Posted at 7:10a.m., Saturday, May 28, 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.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend! If you haven’t noticed yet, summer has been standing on the doorstep for some time now just waiting to be officially welcomed in. Mt Washington has received a meager three inches of snow in the last 30 days and only about 15″ since April 7. Following the trend of the past winter season, this is well below average. On the whole, the weather for the coming weekend doesn’t look all that bad, but there will be chances for rain showers, including thunderstorms and lightning, as well as clouds and fog in upper elevations. Keep checking the weather forecasts when possible throughout the weekend, and pack and plan accordingly. Getting caught unprepared in a thunderstorm in alpine terrain can be a hair-raising experience you’d rather not have.
The traditional spring hazards in the ravines 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 difficult or impossible, especially if you’ve got a board or skis on your feet.
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.
- 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 or the Harvard Cabin.
- A new General Advisory will be issued when conditions warrant.
Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856