Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00am Tuesday May 3, 2011

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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Balmy temperatures begin the day after a night with no dip below the freezing mark even at the summit.  The mercury is expected to hold steady with the ravines registering somewhere around 50F (10C) today.  Though the air will keep the upper layers of the snowpack soft, clouds and rain will lower the day’s score on the Mt Washington quality and enjoyment scale.  Wear your rain gear and be conservative when visibility is low.  The snowpack is going through its annual springtime deterioration and the regular hazards are becoming more widespread.  When clouds and fog limit your visibility it becomes more difficult to pick out the following:

  1. Falling Ice is a serious hazard on warm and rainy days like today. You can’t know for sure when it will fall, so do your best not to spend time in locations that are subject to falling ice. The largest ice in the ravine is in the Center Bowl and up on the cliffs above Lunch Rocks. Both of these areas send ice into Lunch Rocks. For this reason, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND LUNCH ROCKS AS A SAFE PLACE TO SIT. There are better locations to park yourself farther down in the ravine. If you are in the Center Bowl area, you’d be wise to keep moving and not linger in any location where ice can fall in your direction. Over the years we’ve seen far too many serious injuries from falling ice; you don’t want firsthand experience of how this feels!
  2. Crevasses have formed in numerous areas. The Lip and Center Bowl have the largest and deepest of these. The Sluice and Chute also have smaller crevasses growing. We recommend you hike up the route you plan to descend so you can assess these hazards at a leisurely pace.
  3. Undermined Snow with running water underneath can ruin your day if you break through. Snow bridges will be further weakened by the warm weather and running water today, so avoid traveling over streambeds and areas of running water.
  4. Traveling through the Lip area is NOT RECOMMENDED due to the open waterfall and very large crevasses. Each season the Tuckerman Ravine Trail through this area is closed due to the unique nature of these objective hazards. This week we’ll continue to have more warm weather and rain, so we may reach the point where this closure will take effect before next weekend.

 The Sherburne Trail is open a little farther than halfway down. The open section is better than hiking but is riddled with moguls, bare spots, rocks and ice.  After the closure rope, please walk down the hiking trail for 1 mile to the parking lot. 

 

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.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:10am Monday May 2, 2011

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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Today’s weather will start as a repeat of yesterday, with warm sun and clear skies. Eventually the summits will become obscured in fog, but probably not until later in the afternoon. It’s a good day to be the early bird in the ravine. The recent changes in our snowpack have quickly exacerbated the traditional springtime hazards you’ll face:

  1. Falling Ice is a serious hazard on warm days like today. You can’t know for sure when it will fall, so do your best not to spend time in locations that are subject to falling ice. The largest ice in the ravine is in the Center Bowl and up on the cliffs above Lunch Rocks. Both these areas send ice into Lunch Rocks. For this reason, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND LUNCH ROCKS AS A SAFE PLACE TO SIT. There are better locations to park yourself farther down in the ravine. If you are in the Center Bowl area, you’d be wise to keep moving and not linger long in any location where ice can fall in your direction. Over the years we’ve seen far too many serious injuries from falling ice; you don’t want firsthand experience of how this feels!
  2. Crevasses have formed in numerous areas. The Lip and Center Bowl have the largest and deepest of these. The Sluice and Chute also have smaller crevasses growing. We recommend you hike up the route you plan to descend so you can assess these hazards at a leisurely pace.
  3. Undermined Snow with running water underneath can ruin your day if you break through. Snow bridges will be further weakened by the warm weather today, so avoid traveling over streambeds and areas of running water.
  4. Traveling through the Lip area is NOT RECOMMENDED due to the open waterfall and very large crevasses. Each season the Tuckerman Ravine trail through this area is closed due to the unique nature of these objective hazards. This week we’ll continue to have more warm weather and rain, so we may reach the point where this closure will take effect before next weekend.

The Sherburne Trail is open a little farther than halfway down. After the closure rope, please walk down the hiking trail for 1 mile to the parking lot.

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.
  • 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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00am Sunday May 1, 2011

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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

There’s not much to talk about for weather today; it’s going to be a near perfect spring day with temperatures hitting the upper 30’s at the summit, sunny skies all day, and winds diminishing to nearly nothing. We’re starting the day with ravine temperatures below freezing, so surfaces will start icy before turning soft. The rapid changes in our snowpack have exacerbated the traditional springtime hazards you’ll face:

  1. Falling Ice is a serious hazard on warm days like today. You can’t know for sure when it will fall, so do your best not to spend time in locations that are subject to falling ice. The largest ice in the ravine is in the Center Bowl and up on the cliffs above Lunch Rocks. Both these areas send ice into Lunch Rocks. For this reason, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND LUNCH ROCKS AS A SAFE PLACE TO SIT. There are better locations to park yourself farther down in the ravine. If you are in the Center Bowl area, you’d be wise to keep moving and not linger long in any location where ice can fall in your direction. Over the years we’ve seen far too many serious injuries from falling ice; you don’t want firsthand experience of how this feels!
  2. Crevasses have formed in numerous areas. The Lip and Center Bowl have the largest and deepest of these. The Sluice and Chute also have smaller crevasses growing. We recommend you hike up the route you plan to descend so you can assess the hazards at a leisurely pace.
  3. Undermined Snow with running water underneath can ruin your day if you break through. Snow bridges will be further weakened by the warm weather today, so avoid traveling over streambeds and areas of running water.
  4. Traveling through the Lip area is NOT RECOMMENDED. All three of the above hazards are in play here. This location has the largest crevasses in the ravine, the snow bridges over them are narrow and weakening, and you’ll be subject to icefall hazard during the climb. On top of these, the waterfall adds an added level of risk. There are numerous better locations to ski or ride today.

In our opinion, the best ski routes in Tuckerman today will be Left Gully and Hillman’s. Not only do these offer the longest top to bottom runs, but they have the fewest objective hazards to worry about, such as the aforementioned icefall, crevasses, and undermined snow. Lobster Claw, Right Gully, and the Chute also offer good options today.

Skiing down from the Ravine is not an option. You’ll need to walk from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake. The lower Sherburne is bare ground. From the closure rope, please take off your skis and walk the hiking trail down the Pinkham Notch. The trail is open about 1.5 miles to ski down and a 1 mile hike to the parking lot.

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.
  • 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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:15am Saturday 4-30-2011

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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

A wintry start to Saturday is revealing itself this morning with light snow and fog from Hermit Lake up to the summit.  The summit collected 0.5” of new snow with up to another 0.5” on the way.  Clouds will be the dominate weather feature on the mountain until a high pressure system pushes them out later today setting the stage for clear conditions overnight and Sunday.  Summit temperatures are currently 23.5F (-5C) while at the Hermit Lake cabins we are just above freezing at 33F (1C).  The mercury will rise in the higher terrain to about 30 F (-1C) later today with winds increasing from the NW to 35-50+ (55-80kph).  The temperatures and clouds will translate into 2 significant problems for you this morning.  First clouds and some light snow will diminish visibility which is critical to being able to see all the spring hazards that threaten you. Seeing where crevasses are, where rocks in your run out are and putting your eagle eyes on falling ice is all very important and will be hampered today.  And second the temperatures and the sun blocking clouds will keep snow conditions fairly hard for a good portion of the day.  This will translate into skier falls on icy surfaces and depending on the fall line you’ve chosen you could be sent into a crevasse or rock. Crampons, an ice ax, and the skills to use them are required to travel safely in hard frozen conditions.  Right Gully and the Lobster Claw have the best chance of softening as they are south facing and eventually clouds should lift allowing some sun in the afternoon.  This is not an absolute, but we’ll hope for some softer snow conditions.  Consider these points in your decisions today:

  • The Lip and Center Headwall is NOT RECOMMENDED.  They are riddled with large crevasses that are up to 6 to 8 feet wide and quite long.  The main waterfall hole also exists in this location which has become very large due to this week’s melting and rain.  Due to the severe consequences and so much good skiing and challenge in other locations there is really no good reason to use this area.
  • Hillman’s Highway and Left Gully have the longest runs with the least amount of objective hazards, such as falling ice and crevasses, and are therefore two of the best choices.

There are some other spring hazards to watch out for as well.  Besides the aforementioned CREVASSES they have opened up in the climber’s left Headwall, Sluice and Chute as well.  Climb up what you plan to descend so that you can identify these hazards and make a plan for avoiding them. Think about your fall line carefully and assure these crevasses are not below you. UNDERMINED SNOW is when the snow bridges are eroded away from running water below and weakened by warm weather from above. It is often difficult to assess due to its hidden nature, but is most prevalent over streambeds, near rocks, cliffs, brush, turf, and crevasses.  ICEFALL has recently become a significant hazard. Some large ice has already fallen, but the majority has yet to come crashing down. Do your best to avoid spending time underneath ice. If you must, use a natural barrier like a very large boulder as a shield and formulate a plan before you hear the crash of a van sized chunk breaking loose.  Although Lunch Rocks is a traditional place to sit it should be called “ICEFALL ROCKS” as it is in the bulls-eye of several major icefall paths.  The majority of icefall injuries and deaths have occurred around Lunch Rocks.  There are much better places to sit closer to the entry of the Ravine floor.

Skiing down from the Ravine is not an option. You’ll need to walk from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake then you can ski or ride a little over half way down the Sherburne ski trail. The lower Sherburne is bare ground, very wet and muddy so to prevent erosion and keep your boots out of deep mud cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail at the rope and walk the short distance to Pinkham Notch.

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.
  • 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

Print Friendly Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:45a.m., Friday April 29, 2011

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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

A stellar morning finally erupted today after rain and a thick soupy fog engulfed the Presidentials through most of the workweek.  The blue skies will begin a stretch of better weather over the next few days, but be ready to lose the beloved clear conditions later today with some more mixed precipitation, thunderstorms and potential lightning.  Clouds will thicken and lower through the day increasing the probability of precipitation this afternoon.  The summit picked up another inch (2.5cm) of rain on Thursday, and while on the trail yesterday afternoon I occasionally got slapped with a hot wind that felt like opening the oven door to check the turkey on Thanksgiving.   I felt like I could see snow melt right before my eyes.  The change is quite evident as soon as you leave the AMC Visitor Center with sections of rocks and blue ice on the hiking trail.  These sections are very very slippery so ski poles and traction devices would be a good idea.  We have already had several visitor falls with injuries on the vast amount of ice between the Bowl and the parking lots. The melting above treeline is impressive as well, as demonstrated in places like Raymond’s Cataract and the summit cone causing rivers to rage and undermine snow covered locations.  The main waterfall near the Lip in Tuckerman has seen dramatic change since Monday and continues to require a large berth to keep from entering this chasm. The rest of the main Headwall and its adjacent areas have also deteriorated quickly and require some significant hazard assessment.  As is typical later in the season, Left Gully and Hillman’s are becoming the longest runs with the least amount of objective mountain hazards such as crevasses and icefall.

The traditional spring hazards that cause problems for visitors every year are now fully developed.  At this point we do not recommend skiing through the Lip due to the WATERFALL HOLE and LARGE CREVASSES that criss-cross the entire slope creating what you know as “no fall skiing”. Other large crevasses have opened up in the Headwall and Sluice as well.  Give these more room than you think is needed. Climb up what you plan to descend so that you can identify these hazards and make a plan for avoiding them instead of being surprised on the way down. Think about your fall line carefully and assure these crevasses are not below you. UNDERMINED SNOW advanced rapidly this week and is a notable hazard you should constantly keep in mind.  Undermining is when the snow bridges are eroded away from running water from below and weakened by warm weather from above. It is often difficult to assess due to its hidden nature, but is most prevalent over streambeds, near rocks, cliffs, brush, turf, and crevasses.  ICEFALL has recently become a significant hazard. Some large ice has already fallen, but a lot has yet to come crashing down. Do your best to avoid spending time underneath ice. If you must, use a natural barrier like a very large boulder as a shield and formulate a plan before you hear the crash of a van sized chunk breaking loose.  Although Lunch Rocks is a traditional place to sit it should be called “ICEFALL ROCKS” as it is in the bulls-eye of several major icefall paths.  The majority of icefall injuries and deaths have occurred around Lunch Rocks.  There are much better places to sit closer to the entry of the Ravine floor.

Skiing down from the Ravine is no longer an option. Walking from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is by far the smartest way out of the Bowl. When you arrive back at Hermit Lake you can click back in and ski about 50% of the way to the parking lots.  The bottoms of the hiking trail and the John Sherburne Ski Trail near Pinkham Notch are melting out very quickly.  The lower Sherburne is very wet and muddy so to prevent erosion and keep your boots out of deep mud we’ll begin closing off the bottom sections of trail this afternoon.  Please cross over to the hiking trail and walk the short distance to Pinkham Notch.

Check out the weekend update later this afternoon on www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.

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.

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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

8:25am Thursday 4-28-2011

All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine have 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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

This week continues to be our big step out of winter with around the clock melting.  Since Monday I can count the hours that the summit was below freezing on one hand and those barely broke into the freezing range.  Multiple days of rain through the mid-week will be the main course again today as liquid from the heavens is likely and may be associated with some thunderstorms.  Winds from the SW at 60-70mph will drive rain into any point of clothing weakness.  Even the best rain gear will be challenged in the alpine zone today so expect it to be rather unpleasant if you venture up high away from your car.  Coupled with the moisture, visibility is quite limited as pea soup enshrouds the mountain.  This will be an important thing to keep in mind for two main reasons.  The first concern is getting lost on open snowfields above treeline with no contrast to gauge your location and second not being able to see any hazards below you.  Even if you’re in skiing control and not falling, any crevasses, rocks,  or ice will pop out of nowhere.  If it were me I would highly consider postponing a mountain visit today.

Of all the hazards out there avalanches are not your biggest concern today. To reiterate from the above discussion, poor visibility may impact your ability to pick out the springtime hazards that have just begun to show up. The WATERFALL HOLE to skier’s right of the Lip has grown with the swollen headwaters of recent days.  Do yourself a favor and stay out of this area.  It would eat you up but probably wouldn’t spit you out …you get the point. Other CREVASSES have opened up in the Headwall and Lip some of which are big enough for you to fall into.  Those that are smaller might not swallow you whole, you might punch through on your climb up or catch a ski on your way down. Give these more room than you may think is needed. Climb up what you plan to descend so that you can identify these hazards and make a plan for avoiding them instead of being surprised on the way down. UNDERMINED SNOW is a notable hazard you’ll face and you should be on high alert today. This is when the snow bridges are eroded away from running water from below and weakened by warm weather from above. Collapsing through, whether into a stream bed, crevasses, or the dreaded waterfall hole itself, can have dire consequences. ICEFALL is starting to become an issue with the recent melt as well. Yesterday a number of smaller pieces were shed from the warming rock.  Currently the largest of the ice pieces appear to be holding on, but it’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. Do your best not to be under it when that happens.  If you do spend time below ice, use a natural barrier like a boulder as a shield and formulate a plan before you hear the crash of a van sized chunk breaking loose.

Skiing down from the Ravine is basically no longer an option.  It would be a perilous journey fraught with skis off bushwhacking in dense brush, water crossings, and a likely hike back up to the hiking trail to take the best way out, hiking.  Walking from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is by far the smartest way out to the cabins and the ski trail to your car. When you arrive back at Hermit Lake you can click back in and ski to Rt. 16.  The bottoms of the hiking trail and the John Sherburne Ski Trail near Pinkham Notch are melting out quickly. Currently the ski trail is still open all the way to Pinkham Notch. Moguls are abrupt and abundant, and the thin sections are transitioning to longer stretches of bare ground.  An occasional “skis off” section is likely.  Conditions will change rapidly with the current weather so be prepared to be flexible.  We’ll be monitoring the rate of decay and start closing off the bottom sections of trail when it becomes necessary to protect the trail and keep you out of boot top mud.

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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine

Posted 7:40a.m., Wednesday, April 27, 2011

All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine have 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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Today looks to be somewhat similar to yesterday’s foul weather but with a few positive exceptions.  Compared to yesterday’s 0.5” (1.3cm) of rain we can expect maybe 0.1” (3mm) to fall today unless a passing thunderstorms decides to park itself above the mountain for an extended period.  Clouds will be ever-present but we may see some breaks later in the day that will tease us with conditions that unfortunately won’t settle in for long.  Temperatures will rise as a warm front moves past and the summit is expected to reach the lower 50s F (10-11C). It’s been days since we had sustained freezing temps in the ravine and the Cutler River is busy sending much of the snowpack out to sea.  Depending on the snowpack structure, sustained warming like this may have a negative impact on stability as bonds break down and water erodes between layers.  Luckily our snowpack has benefitted from melt-freeze cycles earlier in the spring and warmth-induced avalanches are unlikely.  Though settlement has occurred the snowstake at Hermit Lake has only lost 4.3” (11cm) over the past three days and we’re still at 56” (143cm). 

Of all the hazards out there avalanches are not going to be your biggest concern today. Poor visibility may impact your ability to pick out the springtime hazards that have just begun to show up to our party.  The waterfall hole to skier’s right of the Lip has grown with the increased flow rates of recent days.  Do yourself and stay out of this area.  It would eat you up but probably wouldn’t spit you out until the snow melts away.  Other crevasses have opened up in the Headwall and Lip. While most won’t swallow you whole, you might punch through on your climb up or catch a ski on your way down. Give these more room than you may think is needed. Climb up what you plan to descend so that you can identify these hazards and make a plan for avoiding them instead of being surprised on the way down.  Icefall is starting to become an issue with the recent melt as well. Currently the largest of the ice pieces appear to be holding on, but it’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. Do your best not to be under it when that happens.  If you do spend time below ice use a natural barrier like a boulder as a shield and formulate a plan before you hear the crash of a van sized chunk breaking loose.  Undermined snow is a notable hazard you’ll face and you should be on high alert today. This is when the snow bridges are eroded away from below and weakened by warm weather. Collapsing through, whether into a stream bed, crevasses, or the dreaded waterfall hole itself, can have dire consequences. You’ll want to evaluate the thickness and strength of snow bridges carefully before trusting them to hold your weight.  Walking from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is a smarter idea then trying to ski across the last chunk of snow above the swollen river. 

The bottoms of the hiking trail and the John Sherburne Ski Trail are melting out quickly. Currently the ski trail is still open all the way to Pinkham Notch. Moguls are abrupt and abundant, and the thin sections are transitioning to longer stretches of bare ground. We’ll be monitoring the rate of decay and start closing off the bottom sections of trail when it becomes necessary to protect the trail.

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.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:42a.m., Tuesday, April 26, 2011

All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine have 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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

As is usually the case we have some good news and some bad news.  The bad news is that the snow-eater is here.  Since Saturday all forecast areas have remained above freezing except for maybe a few hours where they dipped down to just below the magic point.  Temperatures will climb to the mid 40’s F today at the summit which means a push toward 50F (10C) in the ravine.  When you pair this with thick hungry clouds and a light wind out of the WSW you can place your chips on a rapidly vanishing snowpack.  Things have been changing daily, if not hourly, since Saturday.  When you next see the ravine she won’t be the same ravine you used to know.  The good news is that the snow has remained soft and today’s temperatures will peak higher than they have in recent days.  If you’re willing to brave some nasty mountain weather in your yellow lobsterman suit you could probably make some decent turns.  Unfortunately the crowds will be light and the visibility low so don’t count on anyone cheering you on or  snapping a photo to make you famous.  About 0.5″ (1.3cm) of rain is expected by the end of the forecast period but we may see more if the thunder-boomers roll through.

Poor visibility will impact your ability to pick out the springtime hazards that have just begun to show up to our party.  The waterfall hole to skier’s right of the Lip has grown with the increased flow rates of recent days.  Do your mom a favor and stay out of this area.  It would eat you up but probably wouldn’t spit you out until well after Mother’s Day.  Other crevasses have opened up in the Headwall and Lip but they’re still on the small side. While they won’t swallow you whole, you might punch through on your climb up or catch a ski on your way down. Give these more room than you may think is needed. Climb up what you plan to descend so that you can identify these hazards and make a plan for avoiding them while you’re making superstar turns on the way down.  Icefall is starting to become an issue with the big melt as well. Currently the largest of the ice pieces appear to be holding on, but it’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. Do your best not to be under it when that happens.  If you do spend time below ice use a natural barrier like a boulder as a shield and formulate a plan before you hear the crash of a van sized chunk breaking loose.  Undermined snow is a notable hazard you’ll face and you should be on high alert today. This is when the snow bridges are eroded away from below and weakened by warm weather. Collapsing through, whether into a stream bed, crevasses, or the dreaded waterfall hole itself, can have dire consequences. You’ll want to evaluate the thickness and strength of snow bridges carefully before trusting them to hold your weight.  Walking from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is a smarter idea then trying to ski acros the last of the snow on the river. 

The bottoms of the hiking trail and the John Sherburne Ski Trail are melting out quickly. Currently the ski trail is still open all the way to Pinkham Notch. Moguls are abrupt and abundant, and the thin sections are transitioning to longer stretches of bare ground. We’ll be monitoring the rate of decay and start closing off the bottom sections of trail when it becomes necessary.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine

Posted 7:11am, Monday, April 25, 2011

All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine have 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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

It’ll be another warm cloudy day in the ravines. If we have any luck, the 30 percent chance of rain will not materialize and we’ll just see clouds hanging over our heads all day. The chance for rain increases dramatically after dark. Summit temperatures are expected to rise up into the upper 30’sF (2-4C), which will allow all snow surfaces to remain soft. The risk of avalanches under today’s conditions remains Low, but you can still expect to see some wet sluffing since ravine temperatures have been above freezing for some time now. The cloud layer is just above the ravine at this time, and it looks very thick. Plan for poor visibility today, but we can at least hope for the summits to be in the clear.

As the melt out begins in earnest, the annual springtime hazards are beginning to show themselves. Yesterday I took a look at some of the crevasses that are opening up in the Headwall, and they are still on the small side. While they won’t swallow you whole, you might punch through on your climb up or catch a ski on your way down. Give these more room than you may think is needed. Icefall is going to become an issue in the coming days as well. Currently the largest of the ice pieces appear to be holding on, but it’s only a matter of time before it all comes down. Probably the most notable hazard you’ll face today will be UNDERMINED SNOW. This is when the snow bridges are eroded away from below and weakened by warm weather. Collapsing through, whether into a stream bed, crevasses, or the dreaded waterfall hole itself, can have dire consequences. You’ll want to evaluate the thickness and strength of snow bridges carefully before trusting them to hold your weight.

The bottoms of the hiking trail and the John Sherburne Ski Trail are  melting out quickly. Currently the ski trail is still open all the way to Pinkham Notch. Moguls are abrupt and abundant, and the thin sections are transitioning to longer stretches of bare ground. We’ll be monitoring the rate of decay and start closing off the bottom sections of trail when it becomes necessary.

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

2011-04-25

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:30am, Sunday, April 24, 2011

All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine have 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 Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Every year brings something different. This year it has been cool spring temperatures helping to preserve the snowpack up on the slopes. Coverage for late April has been quite good with top to bottom runs possible in just about all areas, including the Sherburne Trail. It’s been a good run, but I expect conditions to start rapidly changing with the upcoming weather. For the next several days, the ravines will be subjected to warmth and moisture around the clock. These weather patterns can erode a snowpack in an unbelievable way. Unfortunately, we’re going to start to see the emergence of the annual springtime dangers such as crevasses, undermined snow, falling ice, and open waterfalls. Stay tuned as we start to emphasize these more in the coming days and weeks.

Yesterday’s weather brought us a few inches of snow blown in with strong southerly winds. At around 6pm last night, temperatures at Hermit Lake crept above the freezing mark have stayed up there since. It’s currently 41F (5C) and temperatures are expected to rise a little more during the day. I expect the new snow to have lost most of its elastic energy already, so our concerns about wet slabs in the new snow isn’t great. However, you will want to watch out for wet sluffing. These slow-moving beasts have the ability to whisk even the strongest skier off his or her feet. This could end painfully if there are obstacles or other people in the runout path.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open all the way to Pinkham Notch. Moguls are abrupt and abundant, and some rocks have already begun to poke through in thin sections. We’ll be monitoring the rate of decay and start closing off the bottom sections of trail when it becomes necessary.

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

2011-04-24

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:30am, Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine will have CONSIDERABLE, MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. Hillman’s Highway, Left Gully, the Chute, and Center Bowl will have Considerable avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. The Sluice and Lip will have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Lobster Claw and Right Gully have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely in these areas.

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

In Friday’s advisory, Chris wrote about the unpredictable fickleness of springtime in New England. Just to prove him right, Mother Nature decided to swing us right back into full winter conditions after yesterday’s warm sunny weather. Avalanche danger will be rising today. We are expecting snow throughout the better part of the day. This will be blown in on strong SW winds, which will quickly work to cover up evidence of yesterday’s Earth Day celebrations (a.k.a. ski, snowboard, and climber tracks). Forecasts today call for winds shifting south to southwest and increasing from 45-60mph to 65-80mph (72-97kph increasing to 97 to 129kph). Snow accumulations might be 2-3″ (5-8cm) before a changeover to mixed types and rain. Most of the new loading will take place in areas such as Hillman’s Highway, Left Gully, and the left side of the Bowl, including the Chute.

To be clear about the avalanche danger, we are starting the day at a solid Low rating. As snow blows in, smooths the bed surface, and then blows in some more, the danger will be on the rise. Later in the day or perhaps in the evening, snow will transition to mixed precipitation types and rain. The rain-on-snow scenario leads us to believe that natural avalanche activity will be possible, hence the Considerable rating. Prior to the rain, two areas have my attention: the top left of Hillman’s and most of the top of Left Gully. These areas are starting the day with exposed rain crust from Wednesday that has not seen much human traffic. In other words, they already have a smooth slick bed surface. They’ll also be in the direct lee of the windblown snow for the duration of the snowfall, allowing them to develop new slab more quickly.

If you think you’re going to get out ahead of the increasing avalanche danger by getting an early start, understand that you’ll be dealing with an icy, abrasive crust that developed overnight and surface conditions that are anything but smooth. The existing surfaces will make a long tumbling fall highly likely if to take a fall in steep terrain. When you think about where you want to go, think about your skills as a mountaineer rather than as a skier or snowboarder, and choose decent routes that are within your climbing abilities. Also, bring your ice axe and crampons! Other hazards exist, such as the waterfall hole and the perils of exiting from the Bowl. I’ll refer you to last night’s Weekend Update for details, or if you’re here just ask a Snow Ranger, ski patroller, or caretaker.

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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.

Posted 8:45am Friday 4-22-2011

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. The Sluice, The Lip, Center Bowl, and the Chute have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Heightened avalanche conditions exist so it is important to evaluate snow and terrain carefully. The Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Left Gully, Hillman’s Highway, the Lower Snowfields and the Little Headwall have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely but you’ll want to watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

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

Spring, winter, spring….winter, and back to spring again.  Ah… “spring” in the high Presidential mountains continues to be what many generations of New Englanders have witnessed, unpredictable fickleness.  Blowing snow, graupel-ball bearing snow, and upslope energy on Thursday have given us new cold slabs in Tuckerman, ergo the Moderate avalanche danger rating for many areas.  New snow reported on the summit and Hermit Lake was quite light at under 2”, but very high winds from the West loaded an impressive amount of snow into East facing slopes.  New snow blankets the entire main bowl from the Chute over through the Sluice.  Some isolated old surface is showing, but new slab dominates the terrain.  How deep are those slabs?  Well, we’re not sure, but Jeff and I will spend some time this morning figuring that out when we get into the field.  Generally slabs should be fairly thin due to the limited new snow accumulations, but I would expect the thickest slabs to be in the most protected lee areas, high under the Headwall ice and under the Lip.  Because of this, coupled with a mostly hidden main waterfall hole these two areas are the primary locations of concern.  A cold start to the morning will allow new snow to propagate a fracture until it begins going through some settlement as the day progresses and the sun delivers some intense solar radiation into the Ravine.  A clear day is forecasted today with diminishing winds which will allow some fairly rapid change in the new cold snow by midday heating.  Could we see some wet sluffing and sun rollers today? Yes probably. Will we see a natural wet slab avalanche on S and SE facing aspects?  It is unlikely, but not completely impossible. Snow stability issues this morning should be a totally different animal compared to late in the day as cold dry slabs transition to heavier spring mashed potatoes.  Stability issues will change, but all will fall within the Moderate rating with a slow trend towards being more stable at the end of the day than this morning.

Besides the aforementioned avalanche concerns we have a very hard, cold, icy bed surface in all areas which currently are either showing or hidden under the new snow. Areas posted at Low today have the most widespread icy surfaces.  In steep terrain, this icy crust will make slips and falls very dangerous. It will be incredibly difficult to stop yourself once you gain a little speed. Do yourself a favor; bring an ice axe and crampons for climbing steep slopes. Being skilled in their use is also very important, as is paying attention to what might be in your fall line and choosing routes with fewer objective hazards. It is possible that these surfaces will soften, but be weary about the some icy layer nearby that may lie under some thin new snow that the sun isn’t getting to.  We will certainly be wearing, or at least carrying, crampons today.  Lastly, I would stay well away from the main waterfall hole near the Lip proper which opened last week and has been somewhat hidden by new snow and ice over the last few days.  Falling in here…. well, it is not good.  Frankly it is very very bad.  Give it plenty of berth and distance.

Today is beautiful, but tomorrow…that’s another story.  Rain is anticipated for the day after a start of mixed precipitation and freezing rain.  We’ll have more on this in the weekend update later this afternoon and of course in tomorrow’s avalanche advisory.

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

Printer Friendly Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted at 8:30 a.m. Thursday 4/21/2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely but you’ll want to watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Keep an eye on snowfall accumulations; more snow than forecasted may increase the avalanche danger today.

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

Don’t let the 3-4mm stellars falling from the sky fool you today. The amount of upslope snow we’re expecting isn’t going to give us a Utah-style powder day. However, snow is currently falling and beginning to accumulate in the icy boot prints around the courtyard.  Despite the current conditions, neither the Observatory nor the National Weather Service is predicting significant snow accumulations today, but they are both forecasting strong WNW winds. We know this can move tiny accumulations of snow into deeper slabs in strongly sheltered areas.  So as far as snow stability goes, you’re going to need to watch accumulations throughout the day and adjust your plans accordingly. If the snowfall rate we’re currently seeing keeps up for the duration of the day, I’d expect to see stability problems grow in numerous areas. Aspects facing E and SE, such as the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl, would be the first to move up beyond the Low rating, with other areas having smaller pockets to watch out for. On the other hand, if the current snowfall slows down and accumulations remain light, overall stability will remain quite good with maybe a small pocket of unstable snow here or there. My confidence in modern weather forecasting makes me think the latter is the more likely scenario, but you should be paying attention to the actual weather conditions regardless of what I think. Even under the Low rating, you should watch for growing isolated pockets of unstable snow.

Over the past couple days, rain and warm temperatures followed by the drop in temperatures have made conditions very slick. In steep terrain, this icy crust will make slips and falls very dangerous. It will be incredibly difficult to stop yourself once you gain a little speed. Do yourself a favor, bring an ice axe and crampons for climbing steep slopes. Being skilled in their use is also very important, as is paying attention to what might be in your fall line and choosing routes with fewer objective hazards. There are a couple other hazards to know about today. First is the waterfall hole near the Lip. With icy conditions and poor visibility today you’ll want to avoid the area near this hole at all costs. Also, exiting the ravine via the brook and Little Headwall is quite difficult, and not without hazards of its own. Undermined snow, steep-icy-bumped-up glades, open waterfalls below narrow traverses, etc. all will need to be navigated safely just to get to the top of the Sherburne. You’ll probably find it faster and more enjoyable to hike out of the Bowl. With the strong winds, cold temperatures, limited visibility, blowing snow, and icy conditions, you might want to ask yourself if you can save the adventure for another day.

You might be hoping to develop a cough or sore throat this afternoon, or maybe catch a 24-hour bug, so you can take a day of “R&R” tomorrow. The weather looks to be sweet on Friday before an ugly weekend. We’ll keep you posted for the weekend in tomorrow’s morning advisory and the Weekend Update in the afternoon. Expect icy bumps with bare spots on the Sherburne Ski Trail.

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 or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake Shelters. 
  • 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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday 4/20/2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely but you’ll want to watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

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

Although the mountain has been hanging onto winter during the month of April it keeps us guessing what kind of mood she’s in, winter or spring, and today’s no different. Every time we melt a little snow we get a little snow.  In the end we are losing more than we are gaining but the cold temperatures and freezing nights have made our losses quite slow.  Today will be another example of the concept 1 step forward, 1.1 steps back.  During the overnight the higher elevations received a minor shot of snow which recently began to change over to mixed precipitation.  As the summit temperature steadily climbs today from the teens into the upper thirties F moisture will move from sleet to freezing rain to rain.  Wind velocities are expected to shift from the SSE to the SW and increase from around 30 mph to 70 later today as the front hits the mountains.  Forecasts are expecting around 0.5” (1.25cm) of QPF or expected melt water.  This amount should be split between the frozen form and plain liquid.  Any concern today is related to how precipitation will affect the snow already on the slopes that was deposited over the last couple of days.  Generally, the existing new snow is easily recognized by its fresh white appearance against the old dirty background. These areas vary in size tremendously from a patchwork in some locales to larger coverage in spots like the narrows of the Lip or below the Headwall ice.  Rising ambient temperatures yesterday and solar gain on many slopes rid new snow of most propagation potential.  Rain later today may generate some sluffing particularly in the steepest pockets of snow, but any slab release is unlikely.  Although we do believe slab avalanches are unlikely, a slightly deeper isolated pocket in a few strong lee areas with an E aspect may have resisted complete consolidation in Tuesday’s warmth.  Some elastic energy may still be contained in these drier slabs beneath their upper portions that settled from the sun.  These areas are quite isolated and their potential to avalanche is remote enough that they still fit within the Low rating, but it’s something to keep in mind as rain picks up later today.  Temperatures will drop again tonight which should bring more snow to the mountains.

Old surfaces will remain pretty hard through the day making sliding falls a real concern.  An ice ax and crampons are always important to travel safely in steep terrain and I would highly recommend them.  You’ll also want to identify and avoid the waterfall hole in the Lip which has been partially obscured by new snow.  The waterfall feeds a river under the floor of the ravine.  Falling in there is bad, how bad? REALLY bad! Bad enough that if you were alive with significant injuries, you’d be a lucky individual.   Rain and melting later today will begin to increase the water volume again in this area which has slowed a bit over the past 24 hours.  I would be also be concerned about the flowing river in the streambed which most people use as the ski out of the Ravine.  Increased water volume will begin to weaken and further erode the strength of the remaining snow bridges so use caution.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is bumped up for you mogul junkies.  When it is frozen it is hateful.  When it is soft it may make you smile.  Watch for water ice, vegetation and the occasional rock poking through the snow.  If your legs allow you can still make turns all the way to the parking lot!

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 or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake Shelters. 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

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:53a.m., Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely but you’ll want to watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

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

Monday is behind us and today looks like it could be a decent day on the mountain.  There are some thin high clouds but overall the weather is nice and I’m happy to see my shadow. A quick scan provides evidence of the recent snow that fell on the mountain.  In most places it is merely dust on crust but there are a handful of locations, especially protected E aspects, where it has piled up a little deeper.  The temperature has stayed cold enough that the new snow in the courtyard at Hermit Lake remains dry and has yet to be affected by the sun.  This should change today however as temperatures are expected to push the freezing mark in our forecast areas and winds should mellow out to 30mph (48kph) from the WNW.  Where a thin blanket of snow covers the old surface we’ll probably see a change to mush on top of an icy surface that is slow to soften.  Where the old surface is exposed to the sun we’ll see something more akin to springtime corn snow.  One of the biggest factors in the different reactions to solar gain between the two snow types is color and this will help you plan your route selection.  The older snow is dirtier and darker and stands in relatively stark contrast to the fresh-looking white stuff from the past couple of days.  While the lighter snow will reflect much of the sun the darker snow will absorb that heat which will in turn loosen some of the icy bonds that hold the large snow grains together.  Voila! A thin layer of spring corn for your recreational pleasure.  Where might one go to harvest such fruit of the mountain you ask?  I’d place my money on the south-facing slopes from Lobster Claw around to the Lip but watch the run-outs below some of these slopes.  The Lunch Rocks are slowly melting out and a sliding fall in a yet-to-be-softened Sluice or Right Gully has the ability to send you flying right into the first aid cache. Ironic but true. We still have a few more degrees until we push above freezing at Hermit Lake so don’t get too excited and run out there before the sun has worked its magic.  Patience young Grasshopper! 

You’ll also want to identify and avoid the waterfall hole in the Lip which has been partially obscured by new snow.  Inside this hole is a waterfall which feeds a river under the floor of the ravine.  Falling in there is bad, REALLY bad.  As you wrap farther around the compass rose and start dealing with E and N aspects less softening will occur and you’d be better off looking for new cold snow rather than softened old surface.  Just remember that this new snow overlies a very icy bed surface and isolated pockets of windslab could be reactive to a human trigger.  They may not be big enough to bury you but if they knock you off your feet and spit you out onto a 40 degree icy slope you’re probably going to be least happy person on the mountain.  Crampons and an ice ax will be the tools of choice while traveling over the rock-hard old surface until it softens and in shaded areas this is unlikely today.  Remember the groundhog parable—we can learn a lot from watching shadows.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is bumped up for your enjoyment.  When it is frozen it is hateful.  When it is soft it may make you smile.  Watch for water ice, vegetation and the occasional rock poking through the snow.  If your legs allow you can make turns all the way to the parking lot.

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 caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

Printable Advisory