Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00a.m., Saturday, May 07, 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.

A number of folks showed genuine excitement yesterday because they heard we got snow.  Rooster tails of champagne powder filled their dreams but the reality was much different.  A dusting of snow was about what we received in the ravines and all it really did was temporarily obscure some of the smaller crevasses.  To fill in the larger crevasses you’d need a fleet of dump trucks and access to a pile of snow like you’d see in a Walmart parking lot during the late winter.  In the absence of the big May dump we’re working with pretty typical late spring conditions.  Rain on Wednesday drenched the snowpack and immediately following, temperatures dropped below freezing where they’ve hung for much of the last three days.  An ice ax and the ability to self arrest will be key to safe travel when snow conditions are icy.  It is now above freezing at Hermit Lake so I think soft snow will soon be a reality.

The snowpack has been going through its annual springtime deterioration and the regular hazards have become more widespread.  This week’s ravine is much less attractive than last week’s and the following hazards deserve special attention:

  1. Traveling through the Lip area is NOT RECOMMENDED due to the open waterfall and very large crevasses. A slip in this area would be disastrous so show everyone how smart you are and find someplace else to make turns.
  2. Crevasses have formed in numerous areas. The Lip, Sluice, and Center Bowl have the largest and deepest of these. Other areas also have smaller crevasses growing. We recommend you hike up the route you plan to descend so you can assess these hazards at a leisurely pace.
  3. Undermined Snow often hides running water below and it can quickly ruin your day if you break through. Avoid traveling over streambeds and areas of running water and keep a heads up at the bottom of gullies where the snowpack is thinnest.
  4. Falling Ice is a serious hazard. You can’t know for sure when it will fall, so do your best not to spend time in locations where ice looms above. The largest ice in the ravine is in the Center Bowl and up on the cliffs above Lunch Rocks. Both of 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.

The top third of the Sherburne Ski Trail is currently open.  This section is riddled with moguls, bare spots, rocks and ice.  After the closure rope, please walk down the hiking trail.

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.

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

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