Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:13a.m., Monday, April 18, 2011

 Tuckerman Ravine has Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches are possible.  You’ll need to evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify the particular areas of concern.  The only exceptions to the Moderate rating are the Little Headwall, Lower Snowfields, Right Gully and Lobster Claw which all have Low avalanche danger.  In these areas 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.

After some gross weather to end the weekend we’re back to winter on the mountain.  This morning the summit sits at 10F (-12C) and blowing snow fills the air.  Freezing rain coated the mountain early on Sunday and the mercury on the summit peaked at 32F (0C) during the mid morning hours.  By that point the Observatory had recorded 3.5” (9cm) of new snow and mixed precip which was blown in on southern winds.  As a cold front moved through during the late morning the temperature began to plummet and winds swung to the west.  Some snow was initially protected and unavailable for wind transport thanks to the thin crust that had been laid down by the sleet and freezing rain.  Shortly before midnight last night wind speeds ramped up and began blowing with steady speeds around 70mph (113kph).  Yesterday’s snow began to be pushed around by the winds and light snow showers have added to the mix through the early morning hours.  Clouds and blowing snow are not allowing us to pick out any visual clues this morning but if we had a view we’d expect to see a variety of surface conditions.  Areas that are exposed to W winds likely have large areas of scouring where new snow has been unable to adhere to the “packed powder” that provided loud and scratchy turns on Saturday.  Other spots that are sheltered from W winds have likely developed new windslab that poses today’s main concern.  Protected areas with an easterly aspect are the most suspect and I would expect to find the greatest instability below the Headwall ice, in the Chute and in the mid elevations of the Lip.  While the Lip area has the benefit of spring moguls to roughen up the potential bed surface the Center Headwall has been much smoother and would make me more cautious. I don’t expect the new windslab to be widespread but I do expect it to be reactive to a human trigger as it attempts to cling to the old icy surface.  With all that said, today may provide some good conditions for mountaineering but few decent options for skiing.  Cramponing should be fantastic where you can stay on the old surface.  Left Gully and Hillman’s Highway are on the lower end of the Moderate rating and you should be able to avoid most of the issues with good route-finding.  Unfortunately I think the skiing in these locations will probably be junk.  The same can be said for Right Gully and Lobster Claw where I would expect mostly old surface with isolated pockets of windslab on the climber’s left hand side.  Sliding falls are a major concern in all of these areas so take a good look at your run-out before deciding what you’ll attempt today.  The best skiing would probably be on the new snow in the areas of most concern.  Today’s windslabs might not be all that large but don’t forget to analyze the consequences before you click in. 

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 Ravines

Posted 8:30 a.m. Sunday 4/17/2011

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

When you close your eyes and think of a perfect spring day in Tuckerman Ravine, today wouldn’t be what you imagined.  Snow began last night and transitioned to sleet and freezing rain this morning, with a total accumulation settling down to around 3.5″ (9 cm).  It is now raining with some mixed precipitation hanging on.  This precipitation is expected to continue through the morning before a cold front barrels through causing temperatures to drop into the teens on the summits.  Winds will shift from the SE to the W and increase to 55 to 75 mph (88 to 120 kph) and an upslope flow will develop creating some snow showers in the mountains.  Recent and expected weather has us thinking about two variables that you should consider today.  The first is snow stability.  Today’s upside down snowpack came in on strong SE winds.  Field observations this morning showed very little propagation in the new snow and a lot of old surface showing in the Ravine.  This has allowed all forecast areas to remain at Low but we like to remind people that Low doesn’t mean no avalanche danger.  We think that some isolated areas, particularly the tops of Hillman’s Highway and Left Gully, could have formed some deeper slabs and you may find localized instabilities within the new snow and sleet.  The second thing to think about related to weather is how it will change ski conditions.  With the invasion of a cold front you can expect the wet surface to freeze up quickly making a nasty breakable crust in the new snow and a solid icy surface in the old snow.  If you get out ahead of the cold front you may find some pleasant ski conditions if you’re willing to play in the rain.

A few of our traditional springtime hazards are peaking their ugly heads out of the snow. A few minor crevasses are beginning to show themselves near the Lip and Headwall. Although they could grab a ski or board they are not a real concern yet. The main waterfall hole opened up and is marked by the huge dirt streak near the Headwall and Lip. Do not ski close to this hole and in icy conditions give it some extra room.  You absolutely do not want to fall into this hole.

Exiting the Bowl is no longer possible to do without taking off your skis for at least a short distance above the cache. Below the rescue cache the streambed has snow for a short stretch, then you’ll need to head off into the trees, skier’s right, towards the Lower Snowfields to avoid the open water sections of the brook and Little Headwall. Use caution if you choose to descend on skis rather than on the hiking trail. If you have questions, please ask someone who works here, such as a Snow Ranger, Ski Patroller or AMC 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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Brian Johnston, Snow Ranger

Printable Advisory

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:15a.m.  Saturday 4/16/2011

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.

The summit is beginning the day at about 15 degrees F (-9C) under clear skies.  This is about 5 degrees warmer than yesterday which makes the potential for some snow softening encouraging.  However the movement of clouds into the region will limit the longevity of solar gain compared to Friday so it will be a chess game today requiring a good strategy to time your move and strike when the conditions allow.

First thing this morning you can expect very hard conditions.  I would be ready at the starting gates and be prepared to move ONCE it softens.  I expect some sun to soften south aspects like Right Gully and the Lobster Claw first.     Watch the clouds and be ready for solar warming to shut down much earlier than yesterday.  We will hope for later, but be ready for surface conditions to lock up and get hard once solar radiation is cut-off. Crampons and an Ice Ax will be important to travel safely, especially early and late in the day. I expect it to be quite busy which means it is likely people will be up on the slopes both too early, and too late, resulting in some long sliding falls.  If widespread softening does occur you can expect some of the more popular steep ski routes to still provide scratchy conditions.   Side slipping skiers and boarders can continuously scrape off the soft top down to the icy layer below.  Keep this in mind when choosing your run.   Historically hard surfaces and unprepared visitors have translated into serious accidents.  Think very hard about what is below you. Is it soft enough? Will you be able to self arrest? Is there a line of 50 climbers in your fall-line?  Gore-Tex on hard surfaces results in a very low drag co-efficient manifesting into Mach 1 speeds, a sonic boom, and then going nuclear to the speed of light.  In the right icy conditions you can gain enough speed to go back in time.   The point…TIMING WILL BE EVERYTHING ON A DAY WHEN BOTH HARD AND SOFT CONDITIONS ARE LIKELY TO EXIST.

A few of our traditional springtime hazards are peaking their ugly heads out of the snow.  A few minor crevasses are beginning to show themselves near the Lip and Headwall.  Although they could grab a ski or board they are not a real concern yet.  HOWEVER, the main waterfall hole opened up this week and is marked by the huge dirt streak near the Headwall and Lip. Past accidents that became recoveries tell us we all need to know to stay away from this place.  Do not ski close to this hole and in icy conditions give it some extra berth.  Coming out unscathed is extremely unlikely and frankly people come out the exact opposite of okay.

Exiting the Bowl is no longer possible to do without taking off your skis for at least a short distance above the cache. Below the rescue cache the streambed has snow for a short stretch, then you’ll need to head off into the trees, skier’s right, towards the Lower Snowfields to avoid the open water sections of the brook and Little Headwall. Use caution if you choose to descend on skis rather than on the hiking trail. If you have questions, please ask someone who works here, such as a Snow Ranger, Ski Patroller or AMC caretaker.

A couple of last things to be aware of today.  First, the Inferno Race will be in Hillman’s Highway and down the Sherburne Ski Trail to Pinkham.  Racers will be on course between 9am and 1pm, and although these areas are not closed for your use; be respectful of the competitors.  Second, precipitation will move in late in the day possibly giving us some snowflakes before dark.  As temperatures rise overnight this will turn to mixed ice pellets and freezing rain which is expected to be heavy at times.  Moisture will continue into Sunday possibly going to rain in the Ravines.  If we get enough snow and mixed precipitation before the rain you may see a rising avalanche danger.  More on that tomorrow.

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or 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 Ravines

Posted 8:00 a.m., Friday, April 15, 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.

From a distance it looks like a beautiful sunny spring-like day, and for the most part that’s true. The weather forecast does include sunny skies and decreasing wind speeds. However, beware of the icy crust! At the start of the day all surfaces will begin as a hard and very slick ice crust. Temperatures will be a little bit chillier than what’s required to soften up the snow surfaces all around the ravine. If we’re lucky enough, south-facing aspects such as Lobster Claw and Right Gully will get enough solar radiation to penetrate the first couple inches of the snowpack. This is one of those borderline days where the possibility of warmth exists, but you’ll need to play the aspects carefully and conservatively, and always expect the next turn to be icier than the last. It will also be important today to have crampons and an ice axe and be skilled in their use. Long sliding falls should be in the forefront of your mind today.

Two other things we want you to be aware of today are the waterfall hole and how to best descend from the Bowl. Every year when the waterfall hole opens up, we see people skiing dangerously close to it. Occasionally someone falls in. Historically most people who fall into this hole don’t get rescued, they get “recovered”. You risk death or severe hypothermia by approaching too closely to this hole. Do yourself a favor and give it a wide berth, especially since you will have a hard time stopping a sliding fall. Remember to assess what’s in your fall line regardless of where you are; most areas have something or other below them you wouldn’t want to slide into.

Exiting the Bowl is no longer possible to do without taking off your skis for at least a short distance above the cache. Below the rescue cache the streambed has snow for a short stretch, the you’ll need to head off into the trees to avoid the open water sections of the brook and Little Headwall. Use caution if you choose to descend on skis rather than on the hiking trail. If you have questions, please ask someone who works here, such as a Snow Ranger or caretaker. The Sherburne has almost complete coverage. There are some bare spots here there, as well as some large spring moguls to navigate. Later today check our website for the Weekend Update.

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

2011-04-15

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:15a.m., Thursday, April 14, 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.

Ok, let’s skip the small talk and cut to the chase…The weather for the next few days does not look good for those interested in spring skiing. Temperatures on Mt. Washington began to fall early yesterday evening. They will continue to fall through Friday, and will only rebound slightly for the first half of the weekend. Unfortunately this is coming directly on the heels of a few days of warmth and rain. The end result will be a snowpack that resembles an ice skating rink, only tilted up at an angle. The upside to these conditions is that avalanche danger will remain Low for all areas until a significant change happens. Perhaps another upside is that the climbing season in Huntington Ravine may be extended, but remember to bring a variety of types of protection–rock, snow, and ice– and be ready and able to self arrest at a moment’s notice.

Three things come to mind for spring skiers over the next few days. Understanding these before you get in too deep may indeed save your life or prevent significant bodily trauma.

  1. Long Sliding Falls. The conditions you should expect for the next couple days will require proficiency with an ice axe and crampons. You’ll need to self arrest immediately if you slip, otherwise you’ll quickly learn what it means to reach terminal velocity.
  2. The Waterfall Hole. Every year this hole opens up, and every year we see people skiing dangerously close to it. Occasionally someone falls in. Unlike the lucky guy last year (4/2/2010), historically most people who fall into this hole don’t get rescued, they get “recovered”. You risk death or severe hypothermia by approaching too closely to this hole. Do yourself a favor and give it a wide berth, especially since you will have a hard time stopping a sliding fall.
  3. Exiting the Bowl. The Little Headwall collapsed earlier this week and the streambed above it has been severely undermined, and is now mostly open water and rocks. With the icy conditions leading you toward an open waterfall, I do not recommend trying to ski out of the Bowl via the Little Headwall. Every year brings different conditions, so don’t expect this year to be the same as past ones.

I’m not trying to be a fear monger or overly pessimistic, but I do think everyone ought to carefully consider their objectives when heading into challenging conditions. The number one objective every day should be to get home safely. You can still have a great day in the mountains without taking on excessive risk. And to end on a positive note, the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open all the way to Pinkham. Watch for rocks and icy spots, though.

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

2011-04-14

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:15a.m., Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Moderate and Low avalanche danger today. Left Gully and Hillman’s Highway have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human-triggered avalanches are possible.  All other forecast areas in Tuckerman Ravine have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.  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.

A nasty round of precipitation is on our door step and will bring us snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain today.  It is hard to pin down how much snow we will get before the change over but it is looking like 1-3″ (2.5 to 7.6 cm) is a good bet. Winds will be out of the south between 30 and 45 mph (48 and 72 kph).  The potential for up to 3″ of snow being blown into north aspects has caused us to bump Hillman’s and Left Gully up to Moderate.  This is due to the potential for new slabs to develop and a heightened concern for natural avalanches being triggered in new snow by the change over to rain.  If these new slabs do develop, there is a good chance they will be encapsulated by a layer of freezing rain before the transition to rain.  We are not overly concerned about significant natural avalanche activity today, but do want you to be aware of this issue.  If you choose to endure the yucky weather, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pick an east or south facing aspect instead of the leeward north aspects. If new snow does accumulate, you should also anticipate wet loose slides to occur when the rain starts pounding on the new snow.  Aside from new snow, I think the existing snowpack will be able to absorb today’s rain without increasing the avalanche danger.  We have had a series of warm days and rain events and the snowpack has handled it well from a snow stability point of view.  That being said, other issues have popped up that you should be aware of.  The first is the waterfall hole has opened up in the Center Bowl, near the Lip. This is one of the major drainages in Tuckerman Ravine and it usually rears its head this time of year.  It is notable because you really don’t want to fall into this deep waterfall hole and it is difficult to see from above.  The other notable change that has occurred recently is the Little Headwall is gone.  The increased volume of water in the Cutler River has taken out the snowpack that allows skiers and snowboarders to exit Tuckerman Ravine and get to the Sherburne with ease.  The alternatives to skiing out of the Ravine are riddled with undermined snow, open water and bushes.

Keep a close eye and ear out for icefall.  Today’s rain may cause some chunks to tumble down to the floor of the Ravine.  Crevasses will begin to open up soon.  It is important to hike up what you plan on coming down so you can identify hazards.  The Sherburne Ski Trail is still open all the way to Pinkham with good coverage. Soft spring moguls can be found on most of the trail with some patches of earth popping up here and there.

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

Brian Johnston, 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 8:15a.m., Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger today. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. WE ARE DONE ISSUING AVALANCHE FORECASTS FOR HUNTINGTON RAVINE FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS SEASON. 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.

The mountain has finally succumbed to the inevitable spring melt out.  Rain and warm temperatures have worked together to melt snow and force water channels open.  A notable amount of our precious snowpack has made its annual journey to the Atlantic.  While snow cover is still great for this time of the year, the past 24 hours have created two notable changes in Tuckerman Ravine.  The first is the waterfall hole has opened up in the Center Bowl, near the Lip. This is one of the major drainages in Tuckerman Ravine and it usually rears its head this time of year.  It is notable because you really don’t want to fall into this subterranean chasm and it is difficult to see from above.  If you head into the Ravine, make sure you take the time to identify this and other hazards so you can make a good plan for your climb and descent.  The other notable change that has occurred is the Little Headwall is history for this season.  The increased volume of water in the Cutler River has taken out the snowpack that allows skiers and snowboarders to exit Tuckerman Ravine and get to the Shurburne with ease.  There may still be some options but they will be riddled with undermined snow, open water and bushes.  We’ll take a closer look at this soon, but it may be best to just hike out of the Bowl back to Hermit Lake at this point.   If you plan on being up here today, you can expect decreasing clouds and diminishing winds which may make for a pleasant afternoon.  Low pressure will invade again tomorrow with the passing of a cold front.  This will bring rain, mixed precipitation and snow to the mountains.  At this time it doesn’t appear that we should expect significant amounts of new snow but we are keeping an eye on it.  Check tomorrow’s advisory before heading out to see if there are any avalanche related concerns to worry about associated with new snow.

Keep a close eye and ear out for icefall as the mountain is getting ready to shed its winter coat.  Crevasses will begin to open up soon.  It is important to hike up what you plan on coming down so you can identify hazards.  The Sherburne Ski Trail is still open all the way to Pinkham with good coverage. Soft spring moguls can be found on most of the trail with some patches of earth popping up here and there.

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

Brian Johnston, 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 8:03a.m., Monday, April 11, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger today.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.  WE ARE DONE ISSUING AVALANCHE FORECASTS FOR HUNTINGTON RAVINE FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS SEASON. 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.

The rain held off through most of the daylight hours yesterday and those who came to play found good conditions and light crowds.  Light rain moved in just before sunset and the Observatory recorded a quarter inch of liquid before a lull in the precipitation occurred during the early morning hours.  Summit temperatures climbed above freezing for the first time in 5 days and no overnight freeze took place.  This combination has set us up for heavy wet snow that has limited potential for slab avalanches but will require attention to sloughing.  These point release, loose snow slides will generally be small in nature and won’t cause concern for burial but as heavy as the snow will be they could likely knock you over and take you for a ride.  This may be simply annoying in some places but a serious hazard in others such as the tops of cliffs.  Keep an eye out for them to occur naturally in the steepest terrain especially if you find yourself out during a heavy blast of rain. We’re carefully watching the potential for rain and meltwater to affect deeper instabilities but at the time we think that the snowpack should be able to withstand the expected rate of percolation.

Rain is forecasted to continue through the day today with 0.5” (1.3cm) to 0.9” (2.3cm) expected over the next 24 hours. The summit should dip back below freezing tonight but I don’t believe that the same will be true for the ravines.  Increasing winds today will make even the lightest rain feel pretty miserable and there’s a good chance we’ll feel the boom of thunderstorms as the mercury climbs into the afternoon.   As temperatures rise and rain continues to fall things will deteriorate rapidly.  Keep a close eye and ear out for icefall as the mountain is getting ready to shed its winter coat.  You’ll also want to be very careful if you choose to ski or ride on the riverbed that connects the Bowl to the Sherburne Ski Trail.  There’s open water at the very top and undermining will increase today as the flow rates increase. 

The Sherburne Ski Trail is still open all the way to Pinkham with good coverage.  Soft spring moguls can be found on most of the trail and new hazards will be uncovered as rain and warm temps eat away at the snow.

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.

Justin Preisendorfer, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest

Printable Advisory
(603) 466-2713  TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 7:30a.m., Sunday, April 10, 2011

All forecast areas in the Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely.

 Today is the tale of two days.  The first is the day that you hoped for—blue skies, light winds and snow in all the right places.  The second is the day that you always try to avoid—raw New England weather with mixed precipitation changing to rain.  Luckily we’re starting the day with the first set of conditions and they should remain in place until the afternoon when the junk show arrives.  The past couple of days have been our first solid taste of spring conditions and I’d estimate that yesterday’s crowds were a bit over 2000 people.  Snow stability was good and that trend will continue through today’s daylight hours.  Springtime hazards are just starting to awaken so it’s time to begin keeping your eyes open for the usual suspects.  Crevasses haven’t been spotted yet but open water has gotten the better of a few folks using the riverbed to connect the Bowl to the Sherburne (more info below).  Icefall danger is a concern but only to a minor degree at this point as most of the ice looming in the steeps is still well-bonded to the cliffs behind it.  Nonetheless keep those eyes and ears open and don’t linger underneath ice cooking in the sun.  The biggest issue for folks today will probably be the lack of softening in some areas.  Despite the crowds yesterday very few visitors decided to make their turns in Left Gully.  With great coverage and sun all day what was the issue?  Yesterday’s temperatures hung just below freezing and solar gain was the key factor in providing soft snow.  Slopes with a strong southern component to their aspect benefitted the most and the right side of Tucks was the place to be.  Without the same strong direct sun easterly aspects had a much harder time softening and I expect the same to hold true for the morning hours today. 

 

As we approach the second half of the day the mountain will slowly change face and several clues will make you want to run and hide.  Temperatures will rise as a warm front bullies its way in and covers our bluebird skies with high clouds.  This change in sky condition may have a negative effect on the soft snow you’ve been enjoying and things may begin to get a little crusty.  Timing is everything so if the mercury is high enough when the clouds roll in this might not be a widespread problem.  Later in the afternoon mixed precipitation will begin and eventually give way to straight rain.  We’ll be entering a period of rain and warm temperatures with no overnight freezing over the next couple days so strike the hammer while the iron is hot!

 

When it’s time to wave goodbye and head back to the surreal world you’ll need to exercise a little caution leaving the Bowl.  There is open water near the point where the river leaves the floor of the ravine.  Avoid the plunge by staying high on the left bank.  With warm temps and lots of traffic this connection should be deteriorating over the course of the day.  Check with the Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC Hermit Lake Caretakers for an update before trying to link up with the Sherburne for the ride or ski out 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 or the Harvard Cabin.
  • 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 7:55 a.m., Saturday, April 09, 2011

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

If I could wish for a perfect spring day as a Snow Ranger, it might look a lot like today. What I like so much about today isn’t necessarily the quality of the snow or the bright sunshine or even the warm temperatures. It’s more about the things that aren’t weighing heavily on my mind, such as avalanches, falling ice, and crevasse danger. Typical spring Saturdays we spend a lot of energy planning for the “what ifs” but today is a bit different. Avalanche danger is Low. While it’s not a rock solid melt-freeze type of Low, the snow stability on all aspects is good. Again it will be a warm day, but currently the largest ice that we usually worry about is still well-bonded to the cliff faces. You might see some minor icefall today, so stay heads up about it, but compared to later in the season this is less of a concern. Finally, crevasses have yet to open up, and undermined snow has yet to become a significant problem. So you see, from my point of view the objective hazards for today are relatively small for a typical springtime day, and this makes me happy.

Now, despite what I said already, there are SUBJECTIVE HAZARDS that we want you to be aware of as you’re out and about today. First are the crowds—it’ll be a busy day and you’ll have to be on guard to make sure someone doesn’t do something that would ruin your day. An example might be something as simple as a person falling out of the boot ladder high in the Lip and taking out 20 people on his or her way down. You can mitigate this hazard by staying alert to what others are doing around you and always thinking ahead as to how you’ll react. Another subjective hazard comes from you yourself. Getting in over your head is pretty easy to do here, whether that’s trying to jump the headwall or just getting into terrain that’s too steep or icy. Remember, this is not a developed ski area where the ambulance can pick you up within minutes of an accident. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to get an injured person to the ambulance.

Snow conditions today will be variable depending on where you go and when you’re there. There are areas of rain crust that get softened by sunshine when they face south, but stay rock solid all day long on other aspects. Expect solid conditions in Left Gully, lower Hillman’s, and the Lower Snowfields, particularly early in the day. There is windblown snow in many areas across the ravine; the depth of this snow plays a role in how skiable it can be. In the shallowest areas the rain crust lurks just below and makes for more challenging skiing or riding. Stop by and ask a Snow Ranger, Ski Patroller, or caretaker if you have any questions at all.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. Camping in the Cutler River Drainage is only allowed at Hermit Lake Shelters. The John Sherburne Ski Trail has full coverage and is open all the way to Pinkham. Please be kind to the vegetation as you exit the Bowl!

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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, 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

2011-04-08

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00 a.m., Friday April 8, 2011

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.

If you missed yesterday’s incredible weather and snow conditions, don’ t worry, you’ll have another opportunity to get after it today. The weather today will be more or less a repeat of what happened yesterday–temperatures in the ravines hovering right around or below the freezing mark, sunshine warming slopes facing S and SE, and rather calm winds by Mt. Washington standards. Midweek new snow had blown in on strong W and NW winds after rain stopped falling on Tuesday. This new snow had caused some concern over the past two days, but after watching numerous skiers and boarders charging hard in the Chute, Lip, Center Bowl, Sluice, etc. yesterday, my concerns about the stability of this snow have been put to rest temporarily. A large part of the stabilization came as a result of solar gain. It’s worth remembering that aspects facing to the north do not receive much sun at all, and although less new snow can be found on these aspects what is there may have more stored elastic energy. Another way to say it is that cold slabs that don’t get much sun will have a greater sensitivity to triggering, but they are generally smaller and more isolated. Examples of this type of issue can be found at the tops of South Gully and in Dodge’s Drop. While we don’t forecast for Dodge’s it is a slide path that has a proven history of behaving differently than other areas of the ravine. It’s about 5000′ in elevation, faces due north, and new snow stuck to the steep avalanche starting zone. Personally, it’s not a run I’d drop into without first doing some stability evaluation.

As we move into the weekend the weather outlook looks quite good for the first half, then expect a change on Sunday. Experience tells us that when we have good stability and good weather projected a few days out, the mountains will be quite busy. Wherever it is you travel in the mountains, be aware of what is going on around you. Often the biggest hazard you’ll face is the other people on the mountain who may unknowingly be putting you at risk. Do your best to stay alert to all hazards this weekend, both natural and human.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. Camping in the Cutler River Drainage is only allowed at Hermit Lake Shelters. The John Sherburne Ski Trail has full coverage and is open all the way to Pinkham. However, the upper part of the brook between the Bowl and the Little Headwall isn’t skiable, which forces skiers into the trees for a short stretch. Please be kind to the vegetation as you exit the Bowl, and be careful that you don’t end up taking an unexpected polar bear club dip into the brook!

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.

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

2011-04-08

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:40 a.m., Thursday April 7, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. The Lobster Claw, Right Gully, the Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, and the Chute have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Heightened avalanche conditions exist in specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify areas of concern.  Left Gully, Hillman’s Highway, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.

Huntington Ravine has LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.

Finally a stunning morning on the mountain!  It doesn’t seem that we have been treated to a lot of these this winter which makes them all the more inspiring when they arrive.  With the high pressure settling in overhead it should be quite a nice next 48 hours before things slowly change over again the second half of the weekend.  It will be a blue bird day today, but don’t shut off your keen avalanche awareness detectors because we have some fresh cold slabs to be aware of this morning.  Over the past 36-48 hours (Tuesday night into yesterday morning) the Summit received 3.5” (8.75cm) of cold snow on high winds.  Brian and I found about 3” (7.5cm) around the cabins by 7am Wednesday after the summit had only recorded about half that amount.  Based on these morning observations, periods of S1 and S2 (1-2cm an hour) snowfall intensity rates between 7 and 9 o’clock, and some afternoon snow, we believe avalanche terrain likely saw just a bit more snow than the summit recordings.  This snow was associated with average winds between 40-60mph (65-97kph) from the W and NW with temperatures climbing up out of the low single digits F, ideal conditions to move new soft slab into some E facing aspects.

What we are seeing this morning is a classic yin and yang between the two Ravines.  Huntington has solid Low avalanche conditions with pockets of new snow in Central Gully and high in the northern side of the Fan.  Over in Tuckerman, Hillman’s Highway and Left Gully have some limited new snow that should be watched, but generally they have been scoured down to old surface.  This changes rapidly as you move from the Chute over towards the Sluice.  Old hard surfaces exist under the Chute and down low under the climbers left half of the Center Bowl.  Up high above the narrows in the Chute, across the steepest parts of the Headwall in the Center Bowl, and particularly in the Lip and Sluice new cold soft slab conditions exist.  The Lip and Sluice are the areas of most concern this morning and I consider them in the upper half of the Moderate rating due to their avalanche potential in reaction to a human trigger.  Through the morning hours they will retain their cold snappy nature which should subside a bit later this afternoon.  Although clear sunny conditions with dropping winds will allow directly south facing slopes to pick up some solar gain, helping them start to stabilize, this won’t be as true for SE and E facing aspects.  Therefore the Lobster Claw, Right Gully, and portions of the Sluice will likely see some stabilizing later today, but I would remain suspicious of the Lip and the climbers left side of the Sluice closest to the Lip due to their SE and E nature.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. Camping in the Cutler River Drainage is only allowed at Hermit Lake Shelters.

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.

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 8:10 a.m., Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Considerable avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely.  There are two exceptions to this rating.  The Lower Snowfields have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  The Little Headwall has Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

Huntington Ravine:  Central, Pinnacle, Odell and South Gullies have Considerable avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely.  All other forecast areas in Huntington Ravine have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.

Today’s ratings are similar to yesterday’s but for completely different reasons.  Concerns about rain and warmth creating unstable snow conditions have faded with the invasion of a cold front.  Today we are back into a mid-winter like snow event with light density snow being blown into lee areas of the ravines.  Cold air kicked out the sub-tropical temperatures around mid-day yesterday and rain transitioned to snow.  We now have around 3″ (7.5 cm) of new light density snow and we are expecting anywhere from a trace to 2″ (5cm) of additional accumulation today.  WNW winds are exceeding 80 mph (129 kph) on the summit but are forecasted to back down to 45 to 60 mph (72 to 97 kph).  These forecasted wind speeds will be ideal for transporting new snow into both ravines forming wind slabs.  I suspect new wind slabs are going to be easy to trigger and there may be enough wind loading of the new snow to result in some natural avalanches as well.  The most likely area for natural avalanche activity is in the Sluice, Lip and Center Bowl in Tuckerman Ravine.  Given the low water content of new snow and recent winds, I think you will find a lot of variability in surface conditions today.  The older snow that has recently refrozen will likely be exposed in areas that are not protected from wind.  This is easily identified by its grayish color and icy surface.  While this snow is now stable, don’t be lulled into thinking you will find that in more sheltered areas.

High pressure will move in tonight and it looks like we will have a few days of decent weather.  Snow stability issues will be limited to what is occurring today and clear weather will give us a good opportunity to assess the extent of these issues tomorrow morning.  I know that spring skiing is on many of your minds and this window looks like the first good opportunity to capitalize on spring-like conditions.  Realize that icy conditions are dominating the mountain and we may have lingering avalanche concerns.  Hopefully this will change but you need to be prepared for winter.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. Camping in the Cutler River Drainage is only allowed at Hermit Lake Shelters.

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

Brian Johnston, 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 8:10 a.m., Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger today.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. The only exception to this rating is the Little Headwall which has Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.  Undermined snow may become and issue in this area today.

A warm wind is rattling the cabin and brief bursts of rain are splattering on the window as I type.  This weather is the reason both Ravines have Considerable avalanche danger today.  It is currently 48 F (9C) at Hermit Lake and our upper snow pack is soggy.  Settlement patterns are visible in the Ravines and there is some evidence of recent wet loose avalanches that occurred within the new snow that fell yesterday.  These small avalanches were likely triggered by the transition to rain.  Over the past 24 hours Hermit Lake received 0.56″ (14.2mm) of water and the Summit recorded 1.22″ (31 mm) of water equivalent.  This came in the form of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain.  Rain showers are expected to continue for the first part of the day before a cold front allows precipitation to transition back to snow.  Total water equivalents today are forecasted to be between 0.42 and 0.59″ (11 and 15 mm) with a trace to 2″ (5cm) of snow accumulation later in the day.  The warm weather and rain are keeping the threat of naturally triggered avalanches real.  Rain and melt water are percolating into the layered snow pack and weakening the strength of existing slabs.  As this continues, slab avalanches could occur and they could be pretty big. I was surprised to see that the warmth hasn’t penetrated very far into the snowpack at our snow plots as of this morning.  Our temperature readings were still below 0C at 10 and 20 cm into the snowpack.  (When enough free water makes it into the snow, you will get a reading of 0C in the snow.)  This makes me think that existing slabs in the Ravines still have plenty of cold snow to be irritated by the percolation that is occurring and will continue to occur with more rain on the way.  The type of avalanches we are concerned about today are difficult to predict.  At the end of the day, the Ravines may look the same or we may have large chunky debris piles and fresh fracture lines.  Due to the potential size and force of these avalanches, I would say it is wise to let this event pass before venturing into avalanche terrain.

A cold front will roll though today and temperatures up high will tumble into the teens F (around -9C) with NW winds increasing to 65 to 85 mph (105 to 137 kph) with higher gusts on the summit.  The return of cold air will start a trend toward stability in the existing snowpack and an icy surface will form.  We are expecting a trace to 2″ (5 cm) of new snow later today and another trace to 2″ (5 cm) falling overnight and into tomorrow.  While we can expect the current snowpack to become stable by tomorrow, we may have new dry snow avalanche concerns to focus on depending on how much new snow we actually receive.  If your planning on being on the mountain tomorrow you can expect icy conditions to dominate making crampons and an ice ax important tools to have in steep terrain.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. Camping in the Cutler River Drainage is only allowed at Hermit Lake Shelters.

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

Brian Johnston, 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 8:15 a.m., Monday, April 4, 2011

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines will have CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger today.  Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely. The only exception to this rating is the Little Headwall which has Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.  Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.

In the wake of a very winter like weekend, we find ourselves focusing on another storm system that will create new snow stability issues.  Unlike our last one that brought a foot of nice snow to the mountain, we will be dealing with a snow to rain situation.  We are starting off the day with Moderate danger in most areas with the gullies on the south side of Huntington still at Low.  We expect this to change today as snow falls on the mountain and is transported by increasing SW winds that will reach speeds of 50 to 70 mph (80 to 112 kph) with higher gusts by nightfall.  Total snow accumulation is forecasted to be between 2 and 4″ (5 and 10 cm) before transitioning to sleet and rain.  While this is a modest amount of snow, the increasing winds will be able to turn it into deeper wind slabs, especially on north and east facing aspects.  Temperatures are expected to climb today so new snow will likely become denser as the day wears on creating an upside down snowpack on all aspects.  This scenario will be our first concern that will cause our avalanche danger to increase to Considerable.  The second is the seemingly inevitable transition to all rain in avalanche terrain.   If you opt to thread the needle with the previously mentioned snow conditions, I would advise you get the heck out of avalanche terrain before it rains. Rain will cause instability to rise quickly in any new slabs that form today and it will start eating away at the strength existing wind slabs have.  These existing wind slabs are abundant and relatively new, having been deposited as recently as yesterday.  Rain is forecasted to continue tonight with periods of high intensity.  I expect peak instability to occur tonight with the potential for some large slabs to rip out due to the chaos the rain will bring to the layered snowpack in the Ravines.  Rain will continue into tomorrow before transitioning back to snow.  Expect elevated avalanche danger to linger through the day tomorrow.  Total water equivalent forecasted for the period, including what will fall as snow and mixed precipitation, ranges from around 1″ to 1.5″ (25 to 38 mm).

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. Camping in the Cutler River Drainage is only allowed at Hermit Lake Shelters.

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

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

Printable Advisory