Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:55 a.m., Saturday, May 22, 2010

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 weather forecast for the towns surrounding Mt. Washington is about as good as it gets for the next five days or so. Up on the mountain we might see a couple more clouds, but in general it will be pretty nice weather to be out and about. This prelude to summer is going to continue the melting that has been taking place in Tuckerman Ravine. Although I hate to see the snow departing at such a rate, the silver lining is the snow surface. We’re down to very old snow that has seen a winter’s worth of compaction, so the end result is a firm base with a soft layer of corn on top. It’s a lot better than those days in April when this type of heat created a bottomless layer of soggy wet snow. This melting also continues to keep CREVASSES and UNDERMINED SNOW in the front of our minds as some of the most significant hazards you’ll face if you come up to ski. You’ll do well avoiding the worst areas by staying out of the center of the bowl. Be particularly careful as you approach the edge of the snow near where it meets the cliffs; the edges often become undercut and prone to collapsing. This scenario is playing out in the Sluice area, making it difficult to find a safe location to put on your skis here. It’s also a good idea at this time of the year 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 of the substantial ice has already fallen, but there are always other things that can fall in your direction such as loose rocks, dropped snowboards, or tumbling skiers. And speaking of tumbling skiers, think about what lies below you as you choose your line. Falling fast into a crevasse or pile of talus is a rough way to end your ski season! In the past two days we’ve seen a skier fall into the boulders at the top of Lunch Rocks and a tree, rock, and mud fall event from the cliffs above the Chute. These are just two examples of why you should stay aware of what’s going on around you.

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