Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:45a.m., Tuesday, May 18, 2010

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Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

The good weather will continue today especially if you’re an early riser. Increasing clouds are in the forecast along with a slight chance of a late day rain shower. We are most definitely into the last stretches of the ski season and with that come some hazards that you’ll want to be alert for. Each season is different, so it’s important to make your decisions based on the current conditions. For example, Paul, a long-time volunteer ski patroller and all-around great guy, was impressed this past weekend by how far up into the floor of the ravine you need to go before getting onto snow. It’s true, you’ll be on the rocky hiking trail almost all the way to the bottom of Lunch Rocks. Most seasons the floor takes longer to melt out, but this year there were fewer large avalanches to send debris down onto the floor, which means it takes less time to melt out this area.

Currently, the hazards you should be most concerned with are UNDERMINED SNOW and CREVASSES. For the most part, the crevasses are very visible and quite obvious to anyone with his or her eyes open. You’ll see that the worst areas are in the Headwall and Lip, and if you look over toward Left or Right Gully you’ll see far fewer. Undermined snow is a little harder to see, so be on the lookout for open holes with running water, areas of sagging snow, or moats formed near rocks. All of these are indicators that the snow might not be as supportive of your weight as you’d like. FALLING ICE has been less of a concern lately, but there is still some ice waiting to fall to the floor of the Ravine. This can be found mostly in the Headwall and Sluice areas. It’s always a good idea to stay aware of what’s going on above and around you and have a plan for what you’ll do when something falls from up above.

Most recent visitors would agree that the best places left to ski or ride in Tuckerman Ravine are Right and Left Gullies. The runouts have melted out quite a bit, but the upper sections still hold a good amount of snow. The lower portion of the Chute has also been skiing well. If you move over closer toward the Headwall, you’ll be dealing with more crevasses and undermined snow, as well as a floor that’s littered with large blocks of ice that have already fallen. Personally, I would spend my time doing laps in the Right or Left side before even thinking about doing a run from below the Headwall.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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