Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 9:15 a.m., Saturday, December 25, 2010


Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have both LOW and MODERATE avalanche danger today.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely in areas posted at Low and natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible for areas posted Moderate.  We have not begun forecasting for the Escape Hatch, Lower Snowfields, or Little Headwall due to a general lack of snow in these areas.  Forecasting will begin for these areas when conditions warrant although avalanche activity may occur before this point.

Tuckerman: Hillman’s Highway, Left Gully, Chute, and Center Bowl have Low avalanche danger.   The Lip, Sluice, Right Gully, and the Lobster Claw have Moderate avalanche danger.

Huntington: South, Odell, Pinnacle, and Central have Low avalanche danger.  Yale, Damnation and North have Moderate avalanche danger.  

Very little has changed in the past 24 hours and much of the discussion from yesterday pertains to today.  The summit received no new snow since Friday morning, but the Ravines saw some very minor loading when winds shifted to the NE around 11am yesterday.  We witnessed this while in Tuckerman assessing conditions and saw snow plumes over the Sluice, Right Gully and the Lobster Claw.  You might find a small new pocket or two high in some start zones, but these didn’t amount to much due to moderate winds and a wind shift back towards the N.   A number of areas forecasted at Low have stability issues just below what I would consider the appropriate criteria to be listed at Moderate.  Although they are posted at Low realize they aren’t the rock solid conditions we can see with very high winds or very cold temps after a rain event.   Anchors and the broken nature of many snowfields are assisting some slabs to remain in place, but as you move through a patchwork of snow, bushes, rock and ice re-evaluate slab stability constantly.  Due to the spatial variability across areas like the Center Bowl in Tuckerman expect changes in slab quality and strength.  Slopes with southern aspects like the climbers right side of the Lip, the Sluice, Right Gully, Lobster Claw, Yale and Damnation and North have softer slabs in the strong lee protected from N winds than areas with other aspects posted at Low.   

The biggest impact of the snow accumulations this week is a such more hike friendly Tucks trail from Pinkham to Hermit Lake.  It isn’t often I’m more excited about snow on the trail than snow in the Ravines but the water ice development on the first 1.5 miles from the parking lot was close to record breaking.  We thank all the mountain travellers that packed new snow on top of the ice before it all blew away!  The trail has gone from “crampons or die” to “ski poles would be helpful” conditions so although there is an icy patch or two they are fairly insignificant. 

Some snow is poised to move in for perhaps later tomorrow.  Timing and toals are a bit unclear depending on track but we will discuss it in Sunday mornings advisory.  Have a great Holiday Weekend!  

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.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service

Printer Friendly Avalanche Advisory PDF