Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:42a.m., Tuesday, April 26, 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.

As is usually the case we have some good news and some bad news.  The bad news is that the snow-eater is here.  Since Saturday all forecast areas have remained above freezing except for maybe a few hours where they dipped down to just below the magic point.  Temperatures will climb to the mid 40’s F today at the summit which means a push toward 50F (10C) in the ravine.  When you pair this with thick hungry clouds and a light wind out of the WSW you can place your chips on a rapidly vanishing snowpack.  Things have been changing daily, if not hourly, since Saturday.  When you next see the ravine she won’t be the same ravine you used to know.  The good news is that the snow has remained soft and today’s temperatures will peak higher than they have in recent days.  If you’re willing to brave some nasty mountain weather in your yellow lobsterman suit you could probably make some decent turns.  Unfortunately the crowds will be light and the visibility low so don’t count on anyone cheering you on or  snapping a photo to make you famous.  About 0.5″ (1.3cm) of rain is expected by the end of the forecast period but we may see more if the thunder-boomers roll through.

Poor visibility will impact your ability to pick out the springtime hazards that have just begun to show up to our party.  The waterfall hole to skier’s right of the Lip has grown with the increased flow rates of recent days.  Do your mom a favor and stay out of this area.  It would eat you up but probably wouldn’t spit you out until well after Mother’s Day.  Other crevasses have opened up in the Headwall and Lip but they’re still on the small side. While they won’t swallow you whole, you might punch through on your climb up or catch a ski on your way down. Give these more room than you may think is needed. Climb up what you plan to descend so that you can identify these hazards and make a plan for avoiding them while you’re making superstar turns on the way down.  Icefall is starting to become an issue with the big melt as well. Currently the largest of the ice pieces appear to be holding on, but it’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. Do your best not to be under it when that happens.  If you do spend time below ice use a natural barrier like a boulder as a shield and formulate a plan before you hear the crash of a van sized chunk breaking loose.  Undermined snow is a notable hazard you’ll face and you should be on high alert today. This is when the snow bridges are eroded away from below and weakened by warm weather. Collapsing through, whether into a stream bed, crevasses, or the dreaded waterfall hole itself, can have dire consequences. You’ll want to evaluate the thickness and strength of snow bridges carefully before trusting them to hold your weight.  Walking from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is a smarter idea then trying to ski acros the last of the snow on the river. 

The bottoms of the hiking trail and the John Sherburne Ski Trail are melting out quickly. Currently the ski trail is still open all the way to Pinkham Notch. Moguls are abrupt and abundant, and the thin sections are transitioning to longer stretches of bare ground. We’ll be monitoring the rate of decay and start closing off the bottom sections of trail when it becomes necessary.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

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