Avalanche Advisory for Sunday 5-06-2012

A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrent or within 72 hours. Unless updated this advisory expires at 12:00 midnight Tuesady, May 8, 2012.

We are done using the U.S. 5 scale danger rating system for the remainder of the season. The 5 scale (low thru extreme) system will be reinstated next season when needed. A GENERAL ADVISORY will be in effect for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines until complete melt out later this spring/summer.  A new advisory will be issued when needed or within 72 hours of the last issuance.  This is due to very little change in conditions from day to day on the mountain.  The snow coverage that is left has settled out, been skier compacted, and is going thru the late season melt-freeze process. However, the numerous large snowfields may make for a good sliding surface for late season snow.  May snowstorms are not an unheard of occurrence on Mt. Washington. Be prepared for the possibility of new snow instability if this occurs. Also watch for the possibility of sustained warm weather and/or heavy rain to blow out running water from beneath the snow. This has caused wet slush avalanches in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines in the past. You will need to put your avalanche skills to work for these late season hazards. Be prepared to do your own snow stability assessments if entering avalanche terrain on Mount Washington.

After sun dominating the weather on Sunday and Monday the week looks generally wet.   Beginning Tuesday, a day in the mountains will require being prepared for rain.  Summit temperatures getting below freezing may occasionally trigger either mixed precipitation or some snow.  Fog will likely be an issue as well, which increases your risk to objective hazards.  You won’t be able to see ice coming or recognize all the crevasse and terrain issues you should identify before attempting a run.   

Spring weather has increased the deterioration rate of hanging ice, snow bridges near crevasses, and the edges near waterfall holes. Everything from undermined snow on the floor of the Ravine, crevasses across the Ravine walls and falling ice is causing a threat.   The greatest ice hazard is from the Center and Left Headwall, but smaller ice has come from other places as well.  A very large set of rocks to hide behind will mitigate ice risk if you plan on sitting or resting for a while.  The interior sections of Lunch Rocks have become a reasonable place to be since the vast majority of the ice above has fallen.  A plan to ski or ride on the hard left in the southern end of the Ravine near Left gully or hard right in the Sluice towards the upper Lunch Rocks will keep you further away from more objective hazards in the Center Bowl.  Hillman’s Highway is getting very thin with numerous breaks in snow continuity and rocks poking through the surface.   As melt out continues, an increasing hazard is more terrain features and rocks to collide with in case of a fall.  With these objects being exposed, constrictions being narrower, and run outs ending on 30-40 degree slopes a fall into these immoveable structures is more likely.  Late in the season, skier falls into the rocks are our most common injury maker.  

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The trail from Pinkham Notch to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section above the Ravine from the Alpine Garden Trail junction to the summit. Use an alternate route to circumvent this closed section, such as the commonly used Lion Head trail.  The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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.  A new advisory will be issued when warranted.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest

2012-05-06

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday 5-5-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Saturday 5-5-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in 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. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.   After the weekend we will be moving to a General Advisory for both Ravines which will be valid for up to 3 days per issuance.  Advisories will then discuss general hazards and conditions, but not daily specifics.  You will need to do your own snow stability assessments and daily weather investigation when this begins.

The incoming high pressure is giving the moist air a slow nudge to move out this morning. Yesterday the summit received an inch (2.54cm) of rain from this departing weather maker. Fog and the potential for a shower or two will linger through the a.m. hours before we witness clearing conditions later today.  This limited visibility, created by the fog, will exacerbate the spring hazard problems in the Ravine.  You won’t be able to see ice coming or recognize all the crevasse and terrain issues you should identify before attempting a run.  Take any clearing weather opportunities to give the Ravine’s terrain some focused attention.  Quickly try to determine where ice is hanging, where open holes loom, and where crevasses are located before fog rolls back in.  A plan to stay hard left in the southern end of the Ravine near Left gully will offer the least amount of these objective hazards.  Eventually today, clear visibility will offer you the ability to do a good terrain, crevasse, and hanging ice analysis.  Use this opportunity to evaluate everything you might encounter in your intended run.  As melt out continues an increasing hazard is more terrain features and rocks to collide with in case of a fall.  With these objects being exposed, constrictions being narrower, and run outs ending on 30-40 degree slopes a fall into these immoveable structures is more likely.  So think through your activity, visualize the different potential outcomes if things don’t go as planned and make changes to your travel route appropriately. 

Rain and above freezing temperatures this week has increased the deterioration rate and rotting of any leftover hanging ice, snow bridges near crevasses, and the edges of holes. You won’t be able to see most of these threats in the fog this morning, so your best bet is to avoid the areas where these problems dominate such as in Center Bowl over to the Sluice.  Again, warmth will create ideal conditions for falling ice! For the most continuous snow coverage and the fewest objective hazards, head to Left Gully. From the Chute across to the Sluice you’ll be dealing with increased icefall potential and crevasses. Hillman’s Highway is getting thinner with numerous breaks and rocks poking through.  The lowest portion has become discontinuous due to melt out and undermining.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The trail from Pinkham Notch to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section above the Ravine from the Alpine Garden Trail junction to the summit. Use an alternate route to circumvent this closed section, such as the commonly used Lion Head trail.  The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

Please remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.  For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest

5-5-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 5-4-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Friday 5-4-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in 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. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.   After the weekend we will be moving to a General Advisory for both Ravines which will be valid for up to 3 days per issuance.  Advisories will then discuss general hazards and conditions, but not daily specifics.  You will need to do your own snow stability assessments and daily weather investigation when this begins.

Well it looks like rain will dominate our existence on the mountain for another day.  A rumble or two of thunder is expected today with between 0.7” and 1.0” of rain delivered mostly through the morning and early afternoon.  A high pressure system will start to poke at the low pressure rain bully that has taken over the neighborhood beginning tonight.  Overnight rain will dissipate to showers with some clearing developing tomorrow offering only a slight chance of showers before the second half of the weekend brightens with the sun.  The high pressure should bring in cooler temperatures with the upper elevations dropping back into the 30’s F, adding a brisk feel to the May air.  In addition to the typical spring hazards discussed below being exacerbated by rain, anticipate fog to hinder your ability to recognize them.  Be very conservative if visibility is limited.  I would consider avoiding the Ravine as seeing crevasses, and particularly falling ice, is nearly impossible if the fog is thick and the light is flat.   Take any clearing weather opportunities to give the Ravine’s terrain some focused attention.  Quickly try to determine where ice is hanging, where open holes loom, and where crevasses are located before fog rolls back in.  Check out the Weekend Update this afternoon where we’ll get into some weekend weather details after another model run cycles through at noon today.

Rain all week has increased the deterioration rate increasing the rotting of any leftover hanging ice, snow bridges near crevasses, and the edges of holes. You won’t be able to see most of these in the fog before it’s too late, so your best bet is to altogether avoid the areas where you can find them.  Again, warmth and rain will create ideal conditions for falling ice! For the most continuous snow coverage and the fewest objective hazards, head to Left Gully. From the Chute across to the Sluice you’ll be dealing with increased icefall potential and crevasses. Hillman’s Highway is getting thinner with numerous breaks and rocks poking through.  The lowest portion has become discontinuous due to melt out and undermining.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The trail from Pinkham Notch to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section above the Ravine from the Alpine Garden Trail junction to the summit. Use an alternate route to circumvent this closed section, such as the commonly used Lion Head trail.  The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest

5-4-2012 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 5-03-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Thursday 5-03-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in 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. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

Precipitation potential will increase this afternoon as the next weather maker moves into our region turning fog, drizzle, and some showers into a more consistent rain event.  Depending how you blend the weather model predications, somewhere around an inch (2.5cm) of rain should fall over the next 36 hours.  I’m a little reluctant to say much definitive about Saturday’s precipitation right now because the speed and track of this system has vacillated a bit over the past day.  However, weather on Saturday will improve from the 80-90% chance of rain later today and tomorrow.  All indications point to continued moisture in some form over the next 72 hours before some better weather on Sunday as a high pressure slips in briefly for a pleasant Monday.  In addition to the typical spring hazards discussed below being exacerbated by rain, anticipate fog to hinder your ability to recognize them.  Be very conservative if visibility is limited.  I would consider avoiding the Ravine as seeing crevasses, and particularly falling ice, is nearly impossible if the fog is thick and the light is flat.  Fog should be a more consistent problem tomorrow, but be ready for changing conditions today as the cloud deck may move up and down.  Take any clearing weather opportunities to give the Ravine’s terrain some focused attention.  Quickly try to determine where ice is hanging, where open holes loom, and where crevasses are located before fog rolls back in.  We’ll try to give some better weekend weather news to you in tomorrow’s advisory and weekend update Friday afternoon.  Until then be ready for rain with good mountain shells and dry clothing to swap out.  40 degrees F and rain can be worse than a dry cold midwinter day to cause hypothermia.

Expect the continuation of our typical springtime hazards such as icefall, crevasses and undermined snow as liquid precipitation accelerates melting. You won’t be able to see any of these before it’s too late, so your best bet is to altogether avoid the areas where you can find them. Warmth and rain will create ideal conditions for falling ice! For the most continuous snow coverage and the fewest objective hazards, head to Left Gully. From the Chute across to the Sluice you’ll be dealing with a lot of icefall potential and crevasses. Hillman’s Highway also has reasonable snow coverage, but the lowest portion has become discontinuous due to melt out and undermining.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The trail from Pinkham Notch to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section above the Ravine from the Alpine Garden Trail junction to the summit. Use an alternate route to circumvent this closed section, such as the commonly used Lion Head trail.  The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest

5-3-2012 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, 5-02-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Wednesday 5-02-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in 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. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

April, quickly being ancient history, became our most impressive snowfall month of the winter with a tad over 40”.  Yes very sad, but the bright side is the numbers show once again that it isn’t over till it’s over.  Another screwy fact is the average temperature in April was just a hair over the March mercury and only several days ago the summit broke a daily low record that stood for the past 65 years.  We say it often, but I just love the unpredictable nature of our New England mountain weather!  So looking forward into May-the good news?  If you enjoy solitude the Ravine should be pretty quiet over the next 72 hours.  The less than pleasant news?  Everything in the weather data appears to be pointing to continued moisture and dreariness over the next few days.  Higher summits may get some mixed precipitation, but the vast majority of terrain will see H2O’s liquid form.  Yesterday, the summit of Washington started the month off right with just under an inch of snow in addition to freezing rain.  Just enough for a reminder to be prepared in the mountains with the right gear.  Milder air will move in slowly bringing the upper elevations into the 40’s with light winds by tomorrow.  Overall forecasts are expecting a general drizzle and occasional shower today and tomorrow before picking up into Friday as another system moves in.  How does this affect avalanches? As discussed yesterday we could envision a scenario where small pockets of relatively new snow from last Friday and yesterday sluff off of steep terrain with additional warming and rain.  Yesterday’s weather had this potential higher than today, but it can’t be completely ruled out as of yet.  Our danger ratings are primarily focused on discussing slab avalanche potential as they are far more dangerous, fast, and destructive, but point release sluffs can be quite harmful if you become entrained in the wrong place.

Expect the continuation of our typical springtime hazards such as icefall, crevasses and undermined snow as liquid precipitation returns. You won’t be able to see any of these before it’s too late, so your best bet is to altogether avoid the areas where you can find them. Warmth and rain will create ideal conditions for falling ice! For the most continuous snow coverage and the fewest objective hazards, head to Left Gully. From the Chute across to the Sluice you’ll be dealing with a lot of icefall potential and crevasses. Hillman’s Highway also has reasonable snow coverage, but the lowest portion has become discontinuous due to melt out and undermining.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The trail from Pinkham Notch to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section above the Ravine from the Alpine Garden Trail junction to the summit. Use an alternate route to circumvent this closed section, such as the commonly used Lion Head trail.  The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest

5-2-2012 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for 05-01-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, May 1, 2012.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in 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. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

A thick fog and cold rain is making for some very inhospitable conditions this morning. Temperatures in the ravine will be inching up above the freezing mark, turning the current mixed precipitation into rain. Overall, about 1/3” to 1/2” of rain and mixed precipitation can be expected. Conditions like this are where the phrase “cotton kills” comes from. Leave the blue jeans and cotton hoody behind today. On a day like this, the best thing to be wearing is a house. But if you must go outside, good quality rain gear, extra layers, and plenty of food and water are key components to increasing your margin for safety.

As far as avalanches go, the danger rating today is Low for all areas of Tuckerman. However, this is not all the information you need to know. I can envision a scenario where the small pockets of relatively new snow sluff off of steep terrain. These are a different animal than the larger slab avalanches we’re often concerned about. In this case the likely outcome isn’t necessarily burial, it’s simply the fact that you could get swept off your feet and carried downhill. Depending on what is in your runout below, this could be a very painful experience. The greatest potential for this scenario to play out is in the Chute and Center Bowl area. I expect the old surfaces to easily handle the amount of rain we’re getting today. The relatively newer snow should also be able to handle it, but this is the snow that might create these loose wet snow avalanches.

Other springtime hazards will be lurking in the fog today, such as icefall, crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes. You won’t be able to see any of these before it’s too late, so your best bet is to altogether avoid the areas where you can find them. Warmth and rain will create ideal conditions for falling ice! For the most continuous snow coverage and the fewest objective hazards, head to Left Gully. From the Chute across to the Sluice you’ll be dealing with a lot of icefall potential and crevasses. Hillman’s Highway also has decent snow coverage, but the lowest portion has become discontinuous due to melt out and undermining.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. The trail is open to the floor of the ravine, as is the section from the summit down to the Alpine Garden junction. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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.
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

 2012-05-01 Print Friendly

 

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 4-30-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 30, 2012.

Tuckerman Ravine has Moderate and Low avalanche danger. The Chute has Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. All other forecasted areas have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in 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. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

If you want to know what you should be looking for in a weather forecast that promises a great Tuckerman ski day, look no further than today’s higher summits forecast. Temperatures will be warming to around 30F while winds drop through the day to almost imperceptible levels. Throw in full sunshine and the fact that this is happening on a Monday, when relatively few people will be on the mountain, and the potential is there for a great day. Now that you’re either: a) excited because you’re coming up, or b) bummed because you’re stuck at work, here are the downsides to the day. First, the Chute does still have some new snow in the upper section that has yet to see any traffic at all. I think if you’re patient, the trend through today will be for increasing stability as solar energy and time work in your favor. If you’re a go-getter, be aware that there is the potential for human triggered avalanches in this area. Even if all you are doing is going to ride the lower half, you’ll need to pay attention to who or what is up above. The good snow in the lower half of the Chute is in the runout path of slides from above!

The warm temperature, light winds, and full sun will create an increasing potential for falling ice today. Over the past few days, a lot of new ice has formed in all the usual areas. These may not see incredibly large, but you still don’t want to be hit with one that’s traveling at high speed downslope. We’ve seen many serious injuries and even some fatalities as a result of falling ice, including some from relatively small pieces. Pay attention to what’s above and think about how you’ll react when ice is coming at you quicker than an Aroldis Chapman fastball.

Hopefully, the warm weather today will collapse some of the newly-formed snow bridges that span some of the numerous crevasses littering the Headwall and Lip area. The worst crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes are found here, but other areas such as the Sluice and upper part of the Chute also have crevasses slowly opening up. Not all crevasses are currently visible, so don’t be lured into believing you’re not at risk just because you don’t see any problems.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. The trail is open to the floor of the ravine, as is the section from the summit down to the Alpine Garden junction. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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.
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-04-30 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday, 4-29-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 29, 2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Moderate and Low avalanche danger. The Chute has Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.  All other forecasted areas have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to an overall lack of snow 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. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

Another clear, cold, and breezy day is in store for today. As far as snow stability goes, a mix of conditions exists across the terrain. On the easy side of stability assessments, there is a lot of very hard, very icy, old surface in many areas. You’ll recognize this type of surface by its grayish hue, in contrast to the creamy whiteness of the recent snow. The old surface is very stable, but its iciness makes for horrendous ski conditions. Moving away from old surfaces, you’ll start working into pockets of snow that fell in the early part of the weekend. These can be found in most areas around Tuckerman. On the whole, they’re isolated within each forecast area, which fits our definition of Low danger. However, you may still find instabilities in these pockets. The Chute is the one area that has enough new snow to be more than an “isolated terrain feature.” The new snow has filled in the entire upper half of the forecast area. If you find yourself drawn to this area today, you’ll need to ask yourself a couple questions. First, is there anyone up above who might trigger a slide while you’re climbing below? Second, do you have the skills and equipment for traveling in an area where it’s possible that you will trigger an avalanche? If you’re not sure about either answer, maybe you should choose a different line.

As mentioned, the old surfaces are hard and icy. These conditions are ideal for a fall to accelerate rapidly into an out of control sliding descent towards rocks and hard objects below. Nylon can be a great fabric for blocking the cold winds, but it doesn’t do much to slow down a fall. Numerous obstacles are in the runouts of just about all steep snowfields, so no matter what, DO NOT FALL IN STEEP TERRAIN! An ice axe and crampons are great tools to help keep you on your feet, but they do not guarantee safety in these conditions.

Among the obstacles mentioned above, CREVASSES AND UNDERMINED SNOW exist in many areas. New snow is covering the openings to many crevasses. Falling into one of these will almost certainly end poorly. Always climb up what you plan on descending so you can assess the hazards at a leisurely pace.  The Lip and Headwall have the largest crevasses but smaller slots have grown in the Sluice, Left Headwall, and the Chute. The lower sections of Hillman’s Highway have become discontinuous due the snowpack collapsing near the exposed rocks. FALLING ICE may not seem like a big deal on a cold day, but abundant sunshine can be enough to cause icefall to take place. Pay attention to what’s up above you, and think about what you’ll do if or when it falls.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. The trail to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section from the summit down to the Alpine Garden junction. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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.
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-04-29 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, 4-28-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 28, 2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern. Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to an overall lack of snow 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. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

First it’s record warmth, then three feet of snow, then more record heat, and now more snow! When you see weather like that, you know it’s springtime on Mt. Washington. Last night the mountain received another shot of snow, totals yesterday at Hermit Lake were around 3” and the summit has recorded a little over 5” since snow began Thursday. There is currently more snow in the air and winds are blowing it into the ravine. With winds in the 60-90mph range, we can be fairly confident that snow has been transported into avalanche terrain. What’s less certain is whether or not this loaded into unstable slabs. There is very limited visibility at this time, so the Moderate rating is our best experience-based assessment given the various factors involved. These include the existence of sufficient bed surfaces, the amount of recent snow and densities, wind direction and speeds favorable to slab development, and a long history of closely monitoring snow conditions in this terrain. I would expect the greatest avalanche potential to be in the Lip, Center Bowl, and Chute areas. I suspect Left Gully and Hillman’s will have more variability, but anywhere you find a patch of new snow you should be ready to do your own stability assessments. As weather clears later today, you may find that the wind has scoured any new snow off of the icy old surface, which has great stability but is not without hazards of its own.

Below any new snow, the old surfaces will be hard and icy. These conditions are just perfect for seeing how fast a human being can slide downhill. Nylon can be a great fabric for blocking the cold winds, but it doesn’t do much to slow down a fall. Numerous obstacles are in the runouts of just about all steep snowfields, so no matter what, DO NOT FALL IN STEEP TERRAIN! An ice axe and crampons are great tools to help keep you on your feet, but they do not guarantee safety in these conditions.

Among the obstacles mentioned above, CREVASSES AND UNDERMINED SNOW exist in many areas. New snow may be covering the openings to many of these. Falling into one of these on a day like today will almost certainly end poorly. Always climb up what you plan on descending so you can assess the hazards at a leisurely pace. The Lip and Headwall have the largest crevasses but smaller slots have grown in the Sluice, Left Headwall, and the Chute. The lower sections of Hillman’s Highway have become discontinuous due the snowpack collapsing near the exposed rocks. The potential for FALLING ICE is diminished due to the cold temps, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore what’s above you. Pay attention to what’s up there, and think about what you’ll do if or when it falls.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. The trail to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section from the summit down to the Alpine Garden junction. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

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, the caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-04-28 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 4-27-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 27, 2012

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

Brrrr. It feels cold and raw this morning. That shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’re reading this from one of the many locations where it’s posted on the mountain. Last night, upper elevations did drop below freezing and just over an inch of snow has fallen. A bit more is expected today and tonight. The accumulations aren’t enough for us to bump up the avalanche danger rating, but they are worth paying attention to if you’re near the top of the ravines. What’s more worthy of your attention today is the low visibility, temperatures, and wind speeds. Traveling above treeline in the fog is challenging enough, but to do so with blowing snow, winds gusting over 85mph and temperatures well below freezing is a different game altogether. Be prepared for full winter conditions, including goggles, facemask, good winter boots, ice axe, crampons, etc., and be conservative in your decision making.

The cold weather will hang on through the weekend, which should allow the Headwall area to hold onto the large chunks of ice that were loosened earlier in the week. The heavy rain on Monday did bring down a lot of icefall, including most of what was in the Sluice area. Currently the greatest icefall hazard comes from the Center Bowl. Be aware that this ice can easily crash all the way through the floor of the ravine. If you have reached the snow line in the bottom, you are within striking distance of falling ice. It also crosses sideways into Lunch Rocks. Be head’s up, and always be thinking about your “safe zones” and “escape routes.”

Crevasses and undermined snow will be prominent hazards through this weekend. The largest crevasses have opened up in the Chute through Sluice areas, with the Lip area acting as the center of the bulls-eye. Crevasses are often larger than they appear from the surface, so give these areas wide berth. The farther you stay from them, the lower your likelihood of collapsing a snow bridge.

Long sliding falls will also be an easy way to hurt yourself through the weekend. Cold temperatures will keep surfaces pretty darned icy. As a snowboarder, I can sympathize with people who want to climb up while wearing soft round boots, but these are not the conditions for that! Really you ought to be using hard boots with crampons, and an ice axe for self-arresting. But, beware of overconfidence in your self–arrest skills; you’ll need lightning fast reflexes to arrest the fall before reaching terminal velocity. Once you gain a little speed, you’ll stand little chance of being able to stop yourself. With limited visibility and a variety of obstacles in your fall line, this isn’t something you want to learn about firsthand.

THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO ALL USE FROM LUNCH ROCKS TO THE JUNCTION WITH THE ALPINE GARDEN TRAIL. This includes the Lip area as well as this section of the hiking trail. The trail to the floor of the ravine is open, as is the section from the summit down to the Alpine Garden junction. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The John Sherburne Ski trail is now closed to all use.

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, the caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-04-27 Print Friendly