Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:40.m., Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine: The Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Sluice, Lip, Center Headwall and Chute have MODERATE avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Left Gully and Hillman’s Highway have LOW avalanche Danger.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except for isolated pockets in steep terrain. The Lower Snowfields and Little Headwall are not posted due to a lack of snow in these areas.

Huntington Ravine: All forecast areas have LOW avalanche danger.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except for isolated pockets in steep terrain.  The Escape Hatch is not posted due to a lack of snow in this forecast area.

It’s finally a beautiful clear day on the mountain.  Brian and I were antsy to get in the field and assess conditions yesterday but the weather did not cooperate as fog and blowing snow dominated the day.  Today, Jeff and I will get out in the snow and determine if our initial impressions are correct.   Currently, Tuckerman has a fair amount of wind affect and my gut tells me “it’s hard and stable”, but my mind says “you’ve been fooled before, always remember history”.  Because of this a few areas such as the Chute and the Center Bowl had me sitting on the Low-Moderate fence and decided I needed to get my hands in it before falling to the Low side. 

The other factor for me is the warm weather taking hold of the hills with a reading of 34F (1C) at Hermit Lake as of 8:15 making temperature the main issue for the day. This warming trend also kept me at the Moderate rating level particularly those in the direct sun.  Slopes and gullies with a S or SE aspect such as the Lip, Sluice, and Right gully should be the most suspect due to our the most recent loading coupled with the current warming.  The solar gain of December will take some time to work into cold dry slabs, but the warm air in the region will have a greater effect slowly penetrating through the day.  I do not believe as of now, with the temperatures forecasted, that the impact will be quick enough to cause significant stability issues.   Although it will begin to be cause for some concern later today if temperatures push beyond the forecast.  Some wind protected slopes facing the south may start to get fairly warm at peak height of the December sun.  We will be watching this closely today and with this warm trend continuing tomorrow we will likely focus most of the discussion on it in Friday’s advisory.  Stay tuned. 

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
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713  TTY (603) 466-2856

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