Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:50a.m., Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Moderate avalanche danger today.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches are possible.  The only exceptions to this rating are the Little Headwall and Lower Snowfields which both have Low avalanche danger.  In these areas natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

In Huntington Ravine, Odell and South gullies have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches are possible.  All other Huntington forecast areas have Low avalanche danger.  In these areas natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

We started off yesterday by watching a natural avalanche pull out of the Center Bowl while we were putting together the advisory.  More than one person asked why we didn’t rate all areas as High yesterday if we witnessed natural activity.  There are quite a few things that go into the ratings but it’s important to remember that naturally-triggered avalanches may occur under any rating.  Under a Moderate rating like we have in most areas today, natural avalanches may still occur though they are considered unlikely.  It may seem like semantics but the definitions for each rating are far more important to understand than just the single rating word alone. The arctic air mass currently in place has allowed little stabilization to occur since yesterday but diminished winds have removed much of the concern for natural activity.  Under the Moderate rating human-triggered avalanches are possible and this will be the main focus today.  At the end of yesterday we watched a party of six boot down through the Lip in an area not far from the morning’s avalanche in the Bowl.  They may have been more confident going through there than I would have but they had everyone in their group on the slope at one time.  Had an avalanche occurred they would have likely all been buried.  Remember your safe travel rules!!!

There is a variety of surface conditions out there from old surface to soft windslab.  When you’re selecting your route try and utilize the harder surfaces to keep your impact bulb from extending too deeply in the snowpack.  Some areas such as Left Gully and much of Huntington allow you to avoid most of the questionable snow but isolated pockets of windslab and hangfire from the last avalanche cycle should keep you on your toes.   The tops of some areas like Yale and Pinnacle have pockets worthy of note while in other areas the concerns are much lower down. Though the frigid temperatures will keep the crowds to a minimum today it is a weekend and you’ll still want to keep an eye out for two-legged triggers wandering the slopes above you.  Temperatures will continue to fall and reach -35F (-37C) tonight.  Winds will ramp back up out of the NW today with forecasted speeds of 60+mph (97+kph).  To say it’s cold is an understatement.

We recently switched over to the Lion Head Winter Route for summiteers and you’ll want to make sure you have your crampons and ice ax in addition to all your cold weather gear.  The Sherburne Ski Trail is open top to bottom with ungroomed backcountry goodness.

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 or the Harvard Cabin.
  • 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