Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 4-17-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, April 17, 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.

I don’t remember exactly what my first thought was when I took a good look at the ravine this morning, but it probably wasn’t something I’d want to say in front of my mother. Unless you live in an underground bunker, you know yesterday was HOT. The summit of Mt. Washington hit a new daily high temperature of 57F (14C) and the sun was blazing all day long. Although this isn’t welcome news for people who want to prolong the ski season, there are some benefits. First, many of the crevasses that had been hidden under recent snow are now fully exposed. Second, a lot of the ice from the Sluice and Headwall has fallen off. There is still a lot of ice, though, and there is also more crevasse development as a result of the warmth, so read on before heading up into the ravines.

Icefall has been occurring from the Headwall, Sluice, and other areas. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice. It is important that you recognize this hazard and take steps to avoid being underneath ice when it falls, but there is no good way to know when this will happen. The greatest icefall hazard exists from the Center Headwall and the Sluice ice above Lunch Rocks, but there is potential for this to happen in just about all of the gullies. You should always be looking uphill and thinking about what might fall from above…ice, avalanches, dropped snowboards, people without crampons, etc. can quickly turn a great day into a disaster.

The Center Bowl and Lip areas have numerous deep crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes. Because the consequences of falling into one of these crevasses are severe we recommend avoiding this area entirely. There are smaller crevasses outside of the Lip and Center Bowl area, and underneath the Sluice ice is another area where we historically have seen very dangerous undermined snow and crevasse hazard. Hillman’s Highway is yet another area where undermined snow can be found.

Hikers should not plan to use the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to climb to or descend from the alpine zone and the summit of Mt. Washington. From Pinkham, Lion Head and Boott Spur are much better options. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is currently open to the uppermost connector trail. Expect late-season conditions including exposed rocks and bare sections.

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 Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters. 
  • 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

2012-04-17 print friendly