Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:25am, Friday, January 28th, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine: The Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, and Chute have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches are possible.  Left Gully, Hillman’s Highway, the Lower Snowfields, and Little Headwall have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely in these areas.

Huntington Ravine: All forecast areas have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely in these areas. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

In the hours between 6am yesterday morning and 8pm last night, another half inch (1.25cm) of light density snow fell on Mt. Washington, bringing our 3-day “storm” total to 2.3″ (5.8cm). Our avalanche forecaster friends working in other mountain ranges would probably find this amount laughable. But here in the Presidential Range, small amounts of snow over several days are often “watch-out situations” for backcountry travelers. In Tuckerman, winds yesterday from the W, NW, and N pushed a consistent cascade of snow grains over the Headwall and into other lee areas on aspects facing E to S. This wind loading is continuing to fill in the nooks and crannies around the ravine, such as below old fracture lines, underneath the Headwall and Sluice ice cliffs, or into soft slabs up near the tops of Right Gully and Lobster Claw. For the time being, loading has shut down, which leaves the human trigger as the biggest cause for concern today. Particularly in areas rated Moderate, pay attention not only to what you’re doing but to what’s going on above you.

In Huntington Ravine, all areas today have dropped to Low avalanche danger. Most of the ravine has been rated Moderate for the past several days. You should be aware of the potential to find pockets of unstable snow on isolated terrain features in most of the gullies in Huntington today. These are isolated enough to drop the rating a notch, but that doesn’t mean you should go blindly charging up a gully any which way you please. Stay tuned into your avalanche awareness and you should be able to find reasonable routes to climb.

Increasing cloudiness and light snowfall is expected for the afternoon. Pay attention to how much snow falls during the waning daylight hours (or later, if you’re out after dark!) Winds during this time are expected to be from the W and rather light by local standards, which should keep new slab development to a minimum. Expect any new slabs created late today to be soft, tender, and located up in the tops of the gullies.

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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