Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 3-20-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Tuesday, 3-20-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

Happy first day of spring, everyone! If you’re like me, you didn’t realize the official transition from winter to spring hadn’t yet happened. The summer-like weather will be continuing today. A quick look at the weather history shows that the summit’s average temperature has been 30F or greater for 7 of the last 8 days. We’ve got a few more days of unseasonably warm temperatures before any relief whatsoever. With this heat wave comes our laundry list of springtime hazards and transitions:

  1. Falling Ice. Once again, this is the number one concern I have this morning. Icefall is a very real threat in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. From the divots in the snow, it appears as though one sizeable chunk has fallen from the Sluice toward Lunch Rocks. There is plenty more where that came from, as well as in the headwall. Remember, falling ice can kill you. The best way to manage this hazard is to avoid spending time beneath potential icefall. The ice doesn’t always fall in a straight line, and it can explode into thousands of pieces as it impacts rocks. Lunch Rocks is in the path of huge amounts of falling ice. It is not a safe place to sit.
  2. Undermined Snow. This is beginning to become a problem in more areas than just the stream above the Little Headwall. As streams melt out the snow from below and heat weakens the top, you stand a good chance of punching through. There are many places where the water level below the snow is up enough that you’d be in trouble if this happens. Stick to the areas where the snow is deepest and avoid thin spots near rocks and bushes.
  3. Crevasses. So far this year the crevasse hazard hasn’t been too bad, but we are starting to see some holes open up in the headwall and Lip area. Avoid traveling too closely to the edge of these openings.

All things considered, the skiing and riding conditions are doing all right. There are sluff runnels forming that can easily trip up even the best athletes. The N-facing slopes tend to have more snow than other areas. I’d recommend Hillman’s and Left Gully as two of the best locations. Bring your fattest boards to stay atop the deep wet snowpack.  

The lower section of the Sherburne Ski Trail will be closed as of today. There will be a rope to direct you back toward the hiking trail. Do not walk down the ski trail; you will only contribute to erosion of the muddy trail.

We have transitioned to the Lion Head Summer Trail. The winter Lion Head route is now closed. Please avoid using this route to avoid damaging the soil on the steep section of trail. The summer trail does still have a lot of snow on it. Plan for wet snow and postholing over the next several days.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch has a lot of exposed water ice. Traction devices or poles may be helpful. If you want to skin up the trail, you will probably want to walk the first mile with your skis on your pack.

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.  
  • 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

2012-03-20 print friendly