Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:15a.m.  Saturday 4/16/2011

Tuckerman Ravine has 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.

The summit is beginning the day at about 15 degrees F (-9C) under clear skies.  This is about 5 degrees warmer than yesterday which makes the potential for some snow softening encouraging.  However the movement of clouds into the region will limit the longevity of solar gain compared to Friday so it will be a chess game today requiring a good strategy to time your move and strike when the conditions allow.

First thing this morning you can expect very hard conditions.  I would be ready at the starting gates and be prepared to move ONCE it softens.  I expect some sun to soften south aspects like Right Gully and the Lobster Claw first.     Watch the clouds and be ready for solar warming to shut down much earlier than yesterday.  We will hope for later, but be ready for surface conditions to lock up and get hard once solar radiation is cut-off. Crampons and an Ice Ax will be important to travel safely, especially early and late in the day. I expect it to be quite busy which means it is likely people will be up on the slopes both too early, and too late, resulting in some long sliding falls.  If widespread softening does occur you can expect some of the more popular steep ski routes to still provide scratchy conditions.   Side slipping skiers and boarders can continuously scrape off the soft top down to the icy layer below.  Keep this in mind when choosing your run.   Historically hard surfaces and unprepared visitors have translated into serious accidents.  Think very hard about what is below you. Is it soft enough? Will you be able to self arrest? Is there a line of 50 climbers in your fall-line?  Gore-Tex on hard surfaces results in a very low drag co-efficient manifesting into Mach 1 speeds, a sonic boom, and then going nuclear to the speed of light.  In the right icy conditions you can gain enough speed to go back in time.   The point…TIMING WILL BE EVERYTHING ON A DAY WHEN BOTH HARD AND SOFT CONDITIONS ARE LIKELY TO EXIST.

A few of our traditional springtime hazards are peaking their ugly heads out of the snow.  A few minor crevasses are beginning to show themselves near the Lip and Headwall.  Although they could grab a ski or board they are not a real concern yet.  HOWEVER, the main waterfall hole opened up this week and is marked by the huge dirt streak near the Headwall and Lip. Past accidents that became recoveries tell us we all need to know to stay away from this place.  Do not ski close to this hole and in icy conditions give it some extra berth.  Coming out unscathed is extremely unlikely and frankly people come out the exact opposite of okay.

Exiting the Bowl is no longer possible to do without taking off your skis for at least a short distance above the cache. Below the rescue cache the streambed has snow for a short stretch, then you’ll need to head off into the trees, skier’s right, towards the Lower Snowfields to avoid the open water sections of the brook and Little Headwall. Use caution if you choose to descend on skis rather than on the hiking trail. If you have questions, please ask someone who works here, such as a Snow Ranger, Ski Patroller or AMC caretaker.

A couple of last things to be aware of today.  First, the Inferno Race will be in Hillman’s Highway and down the Sherburne Ski Trail to Pinkham.  Racers will be on course between 9am and 1pm, and although these areas are not closed for your use; be respectful of the competitors.  Second, precipitation will move in late in the day possibly giving us some snowflakes before dark.  As temperatures rise overnight this will turn to mixed ice pellets and freezing rain which is expected to be heavy at times.  Moisture will continue into Sunday possibly going to rain in the Ravines.  If we get enough snow and mixed precipitation before the rain you may see a rising avalanche danger.  More on that tomorrow.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

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