Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

8:25am Thursday 4-28-2011

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.

This week continues to be our big step out of winter with around the clock melting.  Since Monday I can count the hours that the summit was below freezing on one hand and those barely broke into the freezing range.  Multiple days of rain through the mid-week will be the main course again today as liquid from the heavens is likely and may be associated with some thunderstorms.  Winds from the SW at 60-70mph will drive rain into any point of clothing weakness.  Even the best rain gear will be challenged in the alpine zone today so expect it to be rather unpleasant if you venture up high away from your car.  Coupled with the moisture, visibility is quite limited as pea soup enshrouds the mountain.  This will be an important thing to keep in mind for two main reasons.  The first concern is getting lost on open snowfields above treeline with no contrast to gauge your location and second not being able to see any hazards below you.  Even if you’re in skiing control and not falling, any crevasses, rocks,  or ice will pop out of nowhere.  If it were me I would highly consider postponing a mountain visit today.

Of all the hazards out there avalanches are not your biggest concern today. To reiterate from the above discussion, poor visibility may impact your ability to pick out the springtime hazards that have just begun to show up. The WATERFALL HOLE to skier’s right of the Lip has grown with the swollen headwaters of recent days.  Do yourself a favor and stay out of this area.  It would eat you up but probably wouldn’t spit you out …you get the point. Other CREVASSES have opened up in the Headwall and Lip some of which are big enough for you to fall into.  Those that are smaller might not 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 instead of being surprised on the way down. 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 running water from below and weakened by warm weather from above. Collapsing through, whether into a stream bed, crevasses, or the dreaded waterfall hole itself, can have dire consequences. ICEFALL is starting to become an issue with the recent melt as well. Yesterday a number of smaller pieces were shed from the warming rock.  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.

Skiing down from the Ravine is basically no longer an option.  It would be a perilous journey fraught with skis off bushwhacking in dense brush, water crossings, and a likely hike back up to the hiking trail to take the best way out, hiking.  Walking from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is by far the smartest way out to the cabins and the ski trail to your car. When you arrive back at Hermit Lake you can click back in and ski to Rt. 16.  The bottoms of the hiking trail and the John Sherburne Ski Trail near Pinkham Notch 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.  An occasional “skis off” section is likely.  Conditions will change rapidly with the current weather so be prepared to be flexible.  We’ll be monitoring the rate of decay and start closing off the bottom sections of trail when it becomes necessary to protect the trail and keep you out of boot top mud.

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 or the 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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