Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:58a.m., Monday, January 24, 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.

It’s been hyped up enough over the past few days and it’s finally here…the cold snap of 2011. Yesterday temperatures fell consistently into the night, hitting a low on the summit of -34F (-37C). All the while, winds speeds were blowing steadily in the 60-75mph (97-121kph) range with gusts into the eighties this morning (~130kph). These winds are currently moving some snow around Huntington and over the Headwall of Tuckerman Ravine, but the supply is limited and therefore so is the actual amount of loading going on. It can be mesmerizing to watch the snow cascading over the ice cliffs, but don’t let it lull you into blindly making travel decisions. Should you choose to brave the cold and enter into avalanche terrain there are some existing stability concerns to watch out for. These are mostly windslabs that have been sitting patiently for two days now, unable to move in the direction of stabilization. The cold temperatures and brisk winds have been preventing the dissipation of elastic potential energy, which is one way slabs can stabilize over time when it’s not quite so cold.  Spatial variability will add some diversity to the avalanche potential from one forecast area to another, as well as within each forecast area. Some of the areas of most concern include under the Lip and Sluice in Tuckerman, and in Huntington on the approach to South Gully and in the tops of Odell and Pinnacle. 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.

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. It’s time now to start hyping the next weather event. Look for some sort of storm heading our way for Wednesday night. As usual, computer models are taking their time to come into consensus on how this will affect us; at this time it seems worth paying attention to, at least.

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.

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

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