Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00a.m., Sunday, May 08, 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.

Sometimes you’ve just got to go with the best information available. That’s what we all did yesterday when looking at the weather forecasts. The actual weather turned out much better than expected: a few spits of rain from the sky and numerous breaks of sunshine throughout the day. So although we prepared for mostly cloudy and rainy weather, it actually turned into a nice day overall. It’s never a bad idea to hope for the best while being prepared for the worst. Today the weather is starting out quite nice again, but the forecasts are calling for increasing clouds in the afternoon and a slight chance of a late day shower. Getting an early start will help you stay out of the clouds, but be prepared for decreasing visibility if you’re out on the mountain late.

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. Falling Ice is a serious hazard and has injured and killed many people through the years. 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. Your best defense is to not spend time in areas where ice looms above.
  2. Crevasses have formed in numerous areas, the largest of these can be found in the Lip, Sluice, and Center Bowl. 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. Crevasse edges are often less stable than they appear, so steer clear of these unless you can safely evaluate their size.
  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.

A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed to all use. This section extends from Lunch Rocks to the top of the Headwall where it meets the Alpine Garden Trail, and includes skiing or riding through the Lip area. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of the crevasses and undermining, and the severe consequences of a fall in this area.

The top third of the Sherburne Ski Trail is currently open.  This section is riddled with moguls, bare sections, rocks and ice.  After the closure rope, please walk down the hiking trail. The hike down from Hermit Lake to where the ski trail is closed is roughly 15 minutes, so you might want to consider walking all the way.

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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