Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00am Sunday May 1, 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.

There’s not much to talk about for weather today; it’s going to be a near perfect spring day with temperatures hitting the upper 30’s at the summit, sunny skies all day, and winds diminishing to nearly nothing. We’re starting the day with ravine temperatures below freezing, so surfaces will start icy before turning soft. The rapid changes in our snowpack have exacerbated the traditional springtime hazards you’ll face:

  1. Falling Ice is a serious hazard on warm days like today. You can’t know for sure when it will fall, so do your best not to spend time in locations that are subject to falling ice. The largest ice in the ravine is in the Center Bowl and up on the cliffs above Lunch Rocks. Both these areas send ice into Lunch Rocks. For this reason, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND LUNCH ROCKS AS A SAFE PLACE TO SIT. There are better locations to park yourself farther down in the ravine. If you are in the Center Bowl area, you’d be wise to keep moving and not linger long in any location where ice can fall in your direction. Over the years we’ve seen far too many serious injuries from falling ice; you don’t want firsthand experience of how this feels!
  2. Crevasses have formed in numerous areas. The Lip and Center Bowl have the largest and deepest of these. The Sluice and Chute also have smaller crevasses growing. We recommend you hike up the route you plan to descend so you can assess the hazards at a leisurely pace.
  3. Undermined Snow with running water underneath can ruin your day if you break through. Snow bridges will be further weakened by the warm weather today, so avoid traveling over streambeds and areas of running water.
  4. Traveling through the Lip area is NOT RECOMMENDED. All three of the above hazards are in play here. This location has the largest crevasses in the ravine, the snow bridges over them are narrow and weakening, and you’ll be subject to icefall hazard during the climb. On top of these, the waterfall adds an added level of risk. There are numerous better locations to ski or ride today.

In our opinion, the best ski routes in Tuckerman today will be Left Gully and Hillman’s. Not only do these offer the longest top to bottom runs, but they have the fewest objective hazards to worry about, such as the aforementioned icefall, crevasses, and undermined snow. Lobster Claw, Right Gully, and the Chute also offer good options today.

Skiing down from the Ravine is not an option. You’ll need to walk from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake. The lower Sherburne is bare ground. From the closure rope, please take off your skis and walk the hiking trail down the Pinkham Notch. The trail is open about 1.5 miles to ski down and a 1 mile hike to the parking lot.

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.
  • 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

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