Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted at 8:30a.m., Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines are under a General Advisory. We have finished using the 5-scale danger rating system for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

 This morning was a sort of lifting of the curtain you might say.  Foul weather with constant clouds has obscured visibility for long stretches over the past week and I was anxious to see what the day’s clear skies might reveal.  As expected the clouds and warm temperatures have eaten away at much of the 2010/2011 snowpack.  Hillman’s has fallen apart at the bottom requiring a bushwhack to get into it and the upper section is no longer continuous with breaks just above the fork.  Left Gully is a little more continuous but the bottom has melted back from the main bowl and now necessitates a short thrash to enter.  At this point one of the longer and safer runs is the leftovers of the Sluice.  The large ice cliffs above it have melted and fallen apart eliminating one of the most notorious hazards in the Ravine. These conditions will likely change over the course of the week as today’s warm and sunny conditions will soon be replaced by more rain and clouds.  Temperatures are expected to remain warm and melting will continue around the clock.

Our traditional spring hazards continue to be an issue. Realize clouds and fog may make identifying them very difficult.  The RUNOUTS of even the best descent routes have melted back revealing boulders, trees and cliffs.  Think about where you’ll end up if you slide or ski out of control.  CREVASSES have formed in many areas and 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 them unless you can safely evaluate their size. Getting yourself up and out of a deep crevasse may be impossible. Imagine what it’s like to be wedged into a constriction wearing skis or a board, barely able to move, and hoping for someone with ropes and anchors to come to your aid.

UNDERMINED SNOW often hides running water below and it can quickly ruin your day if you break through. Avoid traveling over stream beds and areas of running water and keep a heads up near rocks, bushes, and other areas where the snowpack is thin.  FALLING ICE has injured and killed many people through the years. We’ve had a lot of ice fall over the past few weeks and have made it through the worst of it unscathed. However some ice still exists so your best defense is to not spend time in areas where ice looms above.

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 Lion Head Summer Trail is open. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed to all use.  

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

Printable Advisory