Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00a.m., Sunday May 29th 2011

THIS IS THE LAST ADVISORY FOR THE SEASON. HOWEVER, CERTAIN HAZARDS WILL PERSIST UNTIL MELTOUT SO PLEASE READ THIS FINAL ADVISORY BEFORE HEADING INTO THE RAVINES OR TO THE SUMMIT OF MT. WASHINGTON.

This GENERAL ADVISORY will be in effect until complete melt out later this summer. The snow coverage that is left has settled out, been skier compacted, and is going thru the late season melt-freeze process. However, the numerous large snowfields may make for a good sliding surface for late season snow. A June or early July snowstorm is not an unheard of occurrence on Mt. Washington. Be prepared for the possibility of new snow instability if this occurs. Also watch for the possibility of sustained warm weather and/or heavy rain to blow out running water from beneath the snow. This has caused wet slush avalanches in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines in the past.

THE LIP AND THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL THROUGH THE RAVINE FROM LUNCH ROCKS, ON THE FLOOR OF THE BOWL, TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL JUST ABOVE THE HEADWALL ARE CLOSED TO ALL USE. Only this section of the trail is closed. This section is closed annually due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring meltout. A fall in this area could have severe consequences. This trail section will be reopened when the tread melts out. Until then, be prepared to use an alternate route. Check in with one of the local visitor centers to determine the status of the closure before starting up. If you use motorized access to the summit of Mt. Washington it is NOT recommended that you descend any route through the Ravines. You will not be aware of the hazards below you. Many have attempted this over the years, often resulting in severe accidents.

BE AWARE OF FALLING ICE. Each year over 1000 tons of ice form on the Headwall and in other areas in Tuckerman Ravine as well as the gullies of Huntington Ravine. In the spring it all comes down, often in pieces larger than cars. This hazard will persist until complete melt out.   CREVASSES AND UNDERMINED SNOW EXIST. These openings vary tremendously in size and include the many waterfalls on the Headwall. Hiking up what you plan on skiing is recommended so you can see what you’re in for on the way down.   Skiers and climbers need to pay attention to what is below at all times and constantly evaluate the potential outcome of a fall or slide. As the water runs and melts out the snow from beneath, undermining will continue to occur, collapsing the snow above.

Brian and Justin will walk out of the Ravines for the last time as Snow Rangers today. They move on to new Forest Service positions here on the White Mountain so they won’t be too far away.  We are happy for their promotions, but are sad to see them leave us after about a decade of outstanding service on the mountain.  Their skills and personality will be hard to replace.  What exactly will happen next season is still unclear, but certainly you will see Jeff and I as the snow flies again. Thanks for a great season and we’ll see you next winter.

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. A new advisory will be issued when needed at the beginning of 2011-2012 season.

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

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