Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:15a.m., Thursday, April 14, 2011

All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

Huntington Ravine is under a GENERAL ADVISORY. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Ok, let’s skip the small talk and cut to the chase…The weather for the next few days does not look good for those interested in spring skiing. Temperatures on Mt. Washington began to fall early yesterday evening. They will continue to fall through Friday, and will only rebound slightly for the first half of the weekend. Unfortunately this is coming directly on the heels of a few days of warmth and rain. The end result will be a snowpack that resembles an ice skating rink, only tilted up at an angle. The upside to these conditions is that avalanche danger will remain Low for all areas until a significant change happens. Perhaps another upside is that the climbing season in Huntington Ravine may be extended, but remember to bring a variety of types of protection–rock, snow, and ice– and be ready and able to self arrest at a moment’s notice.

Three things come to mind for spring skiers over the next few days. Understanding these before you get in too deep may indeed save your life or prevent significant bodily trauma.

  1. Long Sliding Falls. The conditions you should expect for the next couple days will require proficiency with an ice axe and crampons. You’ll need to self arrest immediately if you slip, otherwise you’ll quickly learn what it means to reach terminal velocity.
  2. The Waterfall Hole. Every year this hole opens up, and every year we see people skiing dangerously close to it. Occasionally someone falls in. Unlike the lucky guy last year (4/2/2010), historically most people who fall into this hole don’t get rescued, they get “recovered”. You risk death or severe hypothermia by approaching too closely to this hole. Do yourself a favor and give it a wide berth, especially since you will have a hard time stopping a sliding fall.
  3. Exiting the Bowl. The Little Headwall collapsed earlier this week and the streambed above it has been severely undermined, and is now mostly open water and rocks. With the icy conditions leading you toward an open waterfall, I do not recommend trying to ski out of the Bowl via the Little Headwall. Every year brings different conditions, so don’t expect this year to be the same as past ones.

I’m not trying to be a fear monger or overly pessimistic, but I do think everyone ought to carefully consider their objectives when heading into challenging conditions. The number one objective every day should be to get home safely. You can still have a great day in the mountains without taking on excessive risk. And to end on a positive note, the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open all the way to Pinkham. Watch for rocks and icy spots, though.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast. For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713  TTY (603) 466-2856

2011-04-14