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

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 4-26-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Thursday 4-26-2012.

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.

A general clearing trend this morning will carry the current summit mercury at 17F up to about 30F, perhaps allowing for some softening in the Ravine.  Until then snow conditions will remain hard making travel a little tenuous under ski or boot without crampons.  This afternoon, the increasingly clouds of late morning will make precipitation more likely.  This will likely be a mixed event giving up a variety of crystal types, freezing rain, and good ole regular liquid.  Colder air ushered in by a shifting and increasing wind will change any mixing precipitation back to all snow tonight and tomorrow.  Between the beginning of moisture this afternoon and ending tomorrow evening we are forecasted to receive 2-6” of new snow for the period. This may develop new avalanche concerns due to slab develop from a NW wind beginning tonight at 35mph and building to over 85mph tomorrow.  Be sure to check the Friday avalanche advisory on this developing issue.  A quick mention of the weekend is deserved as it currently looks sunny, albeit a bit chilly.  Until then, the mountain should only see about an inch of mixed snow late today, with the majority of the 2-6” coming tonight and tomorrow.  Expect the increasing clouds and fog later today to limit a good visual hazard assessment of the terrain.  In particular seeing your run out will be important to assess what you might slide into in case of a fall.  Ask the question, “If I fall what is below me that I will be sliding into at a high rate of speed?”  Rocks, cliffs, crevasses, and bushes dominate the run out in most areas.  Assessing all the objective hazards together Left Gully harbors the least risk when comparing it to other locations around the Ravine.  Of course less doesn’t mean none, so stay attentive and start conservatively.  Due to the on and off nature of hard icy snow surfaces good mountaineering skills, crampons with front points and an ice ax to arrest a fall are essential and highly recommended for safe travel on steep snow.

CREVASSES AND UNDERMINED SNOW exists in many areas. These were made worse by the heavy rain earlier this week. Always climb up what you plan on descending so you can assess the hazards at a more leisurely pace. The largest crevasses exist from the Lip towards the south across the Center Headwall over to the Left Headwall, but smaller slots are growing in the Sluice and the Chute. Undermining or running water has increased the collapse hazards near holes, rock and crevasses as well. The lower sections of Hillman’s Highway have become discontinuous due the snowpack collapsing near the exposed rocks.

ICEFALL will continue to be a significant issue until it has all come down. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice and remember that even a small piece of ice impacting you at high speed can cause a lot of damage. Ice and rock has been falling from a variety of locations, including the less common areas such as Left Gully, the Chute, and Right Gully. But the dominate ice hazards are still from the Sluice moving south over to the Center Headwall. Due to harder snow conditions after the rain and cold air, ice can go much faster and farther than a week ago so realize you don’t need to go far to be at risk. Presently, if you’ve reached the snow line in the floor, you’re within striking distance of icefall!

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 to the floor of the ravine is open from down below, as is the section above from the summit down to the Alpine Garden junction. 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

4-26-2012 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, 4-25-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Wednesday 4-25-2012

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.

The summit is starting the day at 20 degrees F which will make for hard and icy snow surface conditions around the mountain.  A total of 3.7” of rain fell on the summit during the last weather maker from Saturday evening through Monday finishing off with a 0.7” dusting of snow yesterday.  The return of some seasonally cool air will keep snow showers in the forecast today giving the day a wintry feel, but it shouldn’t bring much accumulation. Moisture in different forms is expected to continue through the week before turning a bit better for the weekend.   Until then, fog is anticipated to continue on and off today which will have a bearing on your ability to recognize hazards in the Ravine. Clouds and foggy conditions may prevent you from seeing your runout, so a long sliding fall is to be avoided at all costs.  As we move into late spring skiing we often witness harder snow conditions whether it’s below freezing like this morning, or not.  Age hardening can slowly turn snow quite glacial, often labeled “alpine ice”.  This can be inconsistent across the terrain which highlights another reason to go up what you plan on descending, so you can witness the issues you’ll face.  Highly consider your run-out while climbing and skiing or riding.  Ask the question, “If I fall what is below me that I will be sliding into at a high rate of speed?”  Rocks, cliffs, crevasses, and bushes dominate the runout in most areas.  Assessing all the objective hazards together Left Gully harbors the least risk when comparing it to other locations around the Ravine.  That being said, less doesn’t mean none, so stay attentive and start conservatively.  Due to the very hard current conditions good mountaineering skills, crampons with front points and an ice ax to arrest a fall are essential and highly recommended for safe travel on steep snow.

CREVASSES AND UNDERMINED SNOW exists in many areas. These were made worse by the heavy rain earlier this week. Always climb up what you plan on descending so you can assess the hazards at a more leisurely pace. The largest crevasses exist from the Lip towards the south across the Center Headwall over to the Left Headwall, but smaller slots are growing in the Sluice and the Chute. Undermining or running water has increased the collapse hazards near holes, rock and crevasses as well. The lower sections of Hillman’s Highway have become discontinuous due the snowpack collapsing near the exposed rocks.

ICEFALL will continue to be a significant issueuntil it has all come down. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice and remember that even a small piece of ice impacting you at high speed can cause a lot of damage. Ice and rock has been falling from a variety of locations, including the less common areas such as Left Gully, the Chute, and Right Gully. But the dominate ice hazards are still from the Sluice moving south over to the Center Headwall. Due to harder snow conditions after the rain and cold air, ice can go much faster and farther than a week ago so realize you don’t need to go far to be at risk. Presently, if you’ve reached the snow line in the floor, you’re within striking distance of icefall!

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 to the floor of the ravine is open from down below, as is the section above from the summit down to the Alpine Garden junction. 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, the caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger.  U.S. Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest

4-25-2012 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 4-24-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 24, 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.

Once again the mountain shrouded in thick fog. Yesterday’s rain was pretty incredible, with local rivers seeing their highest levels since Tropical Storm Irene last summer. At one point during the morning I saw an entire tree floating down the Peabody River near Dolly Copp Campground. The difference in today’s weather is that the upper elevations have gone below freezing, which will make for some hard icy conditions wherever there is snow. Good mountaineering skills and equipment are highly recommended for travel on steep snow. Current weather will prevent you from being able to see the hazards in your runout, so a long sliding fall is to be avoided at all costs. It’s amazing how disorienting the fog can be above treeline, so bring your map and compass and be prepared for some orienteering challenges to stay on route.

ICEFALL will continue to be a significant issue until it has all come down. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice. A number of people had some very close calls earlier this week. Although we often think of the worst case scenario of Lunch Rocks being blasted by a school bus size chunk, it’s worth remembering that even a small piece of ice impacting you at high speed can cause a lot of damage. Ice and rock has been falling from a variety of locations, including the less common areas such as Left Gully, the Chute, and Right Gully. You don’t need to go far to be at risk. Presently, if you’ve reached the snow line in the floor, you’re within striking distance of icefall!

CREVASSES AND UNDERMINED SNOW exist in many areas. These were made worse by the hefty rainfall over the past couple days. Always climb up what you plan on descending so you can assess the hazards at a more leisurely pace.  The Lip and Headwall have the largest crevasses but smaller slots have grown in the Sluice, Left Headwall, and the Chute. Undermining or running water has increased the collapse hazards near holes, rock and crevasses as well.  The lower sections of Hillman’s Highway have become discontinuous due the snowpack collapsing near the exposed rocks.

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

2012-04-24 Print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 4-23-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 23, 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.

As you sit in your warm dry space today, thinking of the mountains and how they will react to the rain, here are some thoughts to ponder. So far, the mountain has received about 1.6″ of rain since precipitation began Saturday evening. There is potential for another couple inches, or, if we’re in a “localized area of higher amounts,” then maybe even more. First, think about what it would be like if temperatures were 20 or 30 degrees colder. This would be a great nor’easter dumping huge snowfalls across all of New England. But sadly it’s not. So instead think about water percolating down through the snowpack, collecting and channeling into little streamlets. These combine and form bigger streams that run beneath the snow and ice. As rain becomes heavy today, picture the water level in these streams rising, possibly exceeding the capacity of the drainage channels and pushing the overflow upward onto the snowpack. Historically, we’ve had some pretty exceptional wet snow avalanches as a result of heavy spring rains. I think the probability is low for this to happen today, mainly because the drainage channels are already well established and large. But, if this unlikely event did take place, I would want to be nowhere near Tuckerman Ravine when it happened. Since the thought did enter my mind this morning, I figured I’d give you something to think about, whether you’re in your cubicle or actually headed up onto the mountain. A much more likely scenario today is the worsening of the usual springtime hazards of falling ice, crevasses, and undermining. Low visibility will make all of these hazards difficult to assess.

ICEFALL will continue to be a significant issue, especially as rain melts the bonds between rock and ice. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice. A number of people had some very close calls earlier this week, including one woman being nearly decapitated by a disk of ice the size of a garbage can lid. That piece missed her, but her partner was injured in the thigh by a much smaller chunk. Although we often think of the large potential, it’s worth remembering that even a small piece of ice impacting you at high speed can cause a lot of damage. Ice and rock has been falling from a variety of locations, including the less common areas such as Left Gully, the Chute, and Right Gully. The areas at greatest risk are Lunch Rocks, the Center Bowl, and the floor of the ravine. Presently, if you’ve reached the snow line in the floor, you’re within striking distance of icefall!

CREVASSES exist in many areas and rival icefall as the primary concern for visitors. Always climb up what you plan on descending so you can assess the hazards at a more leisurely pace.  The Lip and Headwall have the largest crevasses but smaller slots have grown in the Sluice, Left Headwall, and the Chute. Undermining or running water has increased the collapse hazards near holes, rock and crevasses as well.  The lower sections of Hillman’s Highway have become discontinuous due the snowpack collapsing near the exposed rocks.

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

2012-04-23 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday 4-22-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 22, 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.

A thick curtain of fog has descended upon the mountain. It came in late yesterday afternoon, with about 0.9” of rain falling in the early hours of the night. Since then, we’ve been surrounded by a very wet fog and light drizzle. This will continue through today with light rain showers before the real deluge begins tonight. Current weather will prevent you from being able to see the hazards you will face in the ravine. I strongly recommend you read the higher summits weather forecast before heading out this morning. Double check your pack and make sure you have everything you might need to stay dry and warm. It’s amazing how disorienting the fog can be above treeline, so bring your map and compass and be prepared for some orienteering challenges to stay on route.

ICEFALL will continue to be a significant issue until it has all come down. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice. A number of people had some very close calls earlier this week, including one woman yesterday being nearly decapitated by a disk of ice the size of a garbage can lid. That piece missed her, but her partner was injured in the thigh by a much smaller chunk. Although we often think of the large potential, it’s worth remembering that even a small piece of ice impacting you at high speed can cause a lot of damage. Ice and rock has been falling from a variety of locations, including the less common areas such as Left Gully, the Chute, and Right Gully. The areas at greatest risk are Lunch Rocks, the Center Bowl, and the floor of the ravine. Presently, if you’ve reached the snow line in the floor, you’re within striking distance of icefall!

CREVASSES exist in many areas and rival icefall as the primary concern for visitors. Always climb up what you plan on descending so you can assess the hazards at a more leisurely pace.  The Lip and Headwall have the largest crevasses but smaller slots have grown in the Sluice, Left Headwall, and the Chute. Undermining or running water has increased the collapse hazards near holes, rock and crevasses as well.  The lower sections of Hillman’s Highway have become discontinuous due the snowpack collapsing near the exposed rocks.

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

2012-04-22 Print Friendly

 

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, 4-21-2012

This Advisory expires at midnight Saturday April 21, 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.

In addition to the spring hazards discussed below the big factor affecting all of us will the dropping curtain of fog and the developing rain coming our way.  I wish I didn’t have to be the bearer and deliveryman of so much doom and gloom, but I am having a hard time finding a silver lining to give you.  Just keep smiling and be happy that you’re outside rather than being at home doing chores.  Rain will become increasingly likely through the day with a chance of thunderstorms developing this afternoon.  Tonight the high mountains may see some mixed freezing precipitation coating the mountain and some slippery glazing and frozen slush before changing back to all rain tomorrow morning.  Some heavy bursts of rain can be expected on Sunday with the potential for lightning contact in alpine terrain with the passage of a tropical system coming from the south.  All told the region is expecting 2-4” of rain between today and Monday possibility more for the higher mountains!  The other issue is the dropping veil of clouds and fog making it very difficult to recognize all of the Ravine’s hazards like falling ice.  If this occurs I would be very conservative in your travel decisions.  A lower, but not absent, risk from objective mountain hazards (icefall, crevasses, avalanches) exists on the left or southern side of the Ravine than on the right, so staying to the left or south side of the Ravine is our recommendation. The final leg of “The Inferno Pentathlon” will be the ski portion in Left Gully.  This location is not closed to your use just please respect the effort these folks are putting into doing well, so give them some room. 

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 AND THE SECTION OF THE HIKING TRAIL FROM THE FLOOR OF THE RAVINE THROUGH THE TOP OF THE HEADWALL. Only this section of the trail is closed. 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. Hikers should not use this trail or other snowfields to travel through the Ravine to the alpine zone and the summit of Mt. Washington. Descending into the Ravine from above is also not recommended. From the Pinkham side, Lion Head trail up and down is a much better option.

ICEFALL will continue to be a significant issue until it has all come down. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice and a number of people had some very close calls earlier this week. Numerous large divots can be seen on the snow slopes below the Headwall and the Sluice.  The greatest hazard exists from these two areas, but there is some potential for this to happen in other locations.  Sitting at Lunch Rocks may be traditional, but it’s right in the cross-hairs of some significant ice shelling from multiple directions. We saw this occur yesterday from ice falling out of the Lip and center bowl region.     

CREVASSES exist in many areas and rival icefall as the primary concern for visitors.   These may be very difficult to see from above so remember to always climb up what you plan on descending to allow you to assess the hazards at a more leisurely pace.  The Lip and Headwall have the largest crevasses but smaller slots have grown in the Sluice, Left Headwall, and the Chute. Undermining or running water has increased the collapse hazards near holes, rock and crevasses as well.  Hillman’s Highway with it’s growing rock population is a location to be thinking about this problem.

The John Sherburne Ski trail is now closed to all use due to rapid melt out this week.   

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.

 Print Friendly Version

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger

USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 4-20-2012

This Advisory expires at midnight, Friday 4-20-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. There is a possibility of isolated wet point releases/sluffing induced by human travelers and icefall triggers. 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.

Dramatic seasonal changes have once again shown their power this week through significant melting.  A week ago today Joe and I were post-holing in new cold snow up Hillman’s and above treeline on what felt like a nice January day.  Seven days later this same trip would feel like night and day.  Changes in the mountains aren’t necessarily bad, just different.  You can still have fun by altering your plans and expectations and understanding the hazards you may face.  This morning’s sunshine will give way to building clouds from day time heating producing a chance of afternoon showers.  Looking forward to the weekend, it doesn’t look too pretty, I’m afraid.  A chance of showers will grow to them being likely Saturday afternoon, producing about an inch of rain according to current information.  Sunday will also have wetness as the dominate weather factor.  There is a chance the higher summits may get some snow out of all this, but if I had to money down right now, unfortunately, I’d bet on rain.  Lower risk from objective mountain hazards (icefall, crevasses, avalanches) exist on the left or southern side of the Ravine than on the right, so staying to the Left Gully side of the Ravine is our recommendation.  Choosing our recommendation does not completely eliminate the hazards described below, but dramatically reduces your expose to them.  Check back to our Weekend Update this afternoon.

A lot of icefall has been occurring from the Headwall, Sluice, and other areas since last weekend. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice and a number of people had some very close calls earlier this week. Numerous large ice divots can be seen on the snow slopes below the Headwall and the Sluice.  The greatest hazard exists from these two areas, but there is some potential for this to happen in other locations.  Sitting at Lunch Rocks may be traditional, but it’s right in the cross-hairs of some significant ice shelling from multiple directions. In general, you should always be thinking about what might fall from above…ice, rock, avalanches, dropped snowboards and skis, etc.  So stay aware! 

The Center Bowl and Lip areas have numerous deep crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes. Because the consequences of falling into one of these crevasses are severe we recommend avoiding this area entirely. Hikers should not use the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to travel through the Ravine to the alpine zone and the summit of Mt. Washington. Descending into the Ravine from above is also not recommended.  Remember, just because a bootpack exists in the snow it doesn’t mean it was a safe choice by the past users.  From Pinkham, Lion Head is a much better option. The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from the rim of the Ravine to Lunch Rocks will be closing very soon because of these developing hazards.  This annual closure occurs due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop during the spring melt-out.  There are smaller crevasses outside of the Lip and Center Bowl area.  As an example underneath the Sluice ice is an area where we’ve historically seen dangerous undermined snow and crevasse hazards. Hillman’s Highway is yet another area where undermined snow can be found.

The John Sherburne Ski trail is now closed to all use due to rapid melt out this week.  Avoid mud over your boot tops and eroding the trail by walking down to Pinkham Notch from Hermit Lake on the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail.

Please remember:

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

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

2012-04-20 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 4-19-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Thursday 4-19-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. There is a possibility of isolated wet point releases/sluffing induced by human travelers and icefall triggers. 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 warm day is in store for the region today as the latest Midwest weather system move in our direction.  This will drive summit temperatures warmer than yesterday sending the mercury to about 40 degrees F.  Mild air associated with low wind speeds and periods of sun, will once again heat up the Ravine.  South aspects and ice pointing directly into the sun will be most affected and weakened.  As we move into Friday clouds will be on the increase as warm precipitation moves into the area.  Currently temperatures on the summit are forecasted to hit the mid-forties with rain a possibility late tomorrow.  As we head into Saturday precipitation potential will increase from close to 60% in the morning to 80% late with water amounts between 0.3-0.5” (0.8-1.25cm).  In the northern portions of the State the water accumulations are close to double so we’ll be watching the developing track closely. This entire scenario will continue icefall concerns over the next 72 hours.  A fair amount has fallen since last weekend, but more is looming as we try to get through the last half of existing ice in the Ravine.  As I said yesterday there is still enjoyment to be had with skis and boards, however realize timing and hazard recognition is everything.  Lower risk from objective mountain hazards (icefall, crevasses, avalanches) exist on the left or southern side of the Ravine than on the right, so staying to the Left Gully side of the Ravine is our recommendation.  Choosing our recommendation does not completely eliminate the hazards described below, but dramatically reduces your expose to them.

Icefall has been occurring from the Headwall, Sluice, and other areas. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice and a number of people had some very close calls this week.  The greatest icefall hazard exists from the Center Headwall and the Sluice ice above Lunch Rocks, but there is some potential for this to happen in other locations.  Sitting at Lunch Rocks may be traditional, but it’s right in the cross-hairs of significant ice shelling from multiple directions.  Most of our icefall tragedies have happened at Lunch Rocks (Icefall Rocks) so they should be avoided as your base camp.   In general, you should always be thinking about what might fall from above…ice, rock, avalanches, dropped snowboards and skis.  And although you may not of considered falling people a hazard we have seen many people down lower be taken on by those falling from above on steep slopes. So stay aware!

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

Hikers should not use the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to travel through the Ravine to the alpine zone and the summit of Mt. Washington. Descending into the Ravine from above is also not recommended.  From Pinkham, Lion Head is a much better option. The John Sherburne Ski trail is now closed to all use due to rapid melt out this week.  Avoid mud over your boot tops and eroding the trail by walking down to Pinkham Notch from Hermit Lake on the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail.

Please remember:

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

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

4-19-2012 Print Version

 

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, 4-18-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Wednesday 4-18-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.  Expect the possibility of wet point releases/sluffing induced by human travelers and icefall triggers. 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.

The summer like heat will abate a bit, but nice weather will continue over the next couple of days.  Currently Friday appears to begin a several day period of some much needed moisture, but more on that tomorrow.  The last 48 hours of high temperatures have generated some impressive results on the mountain, albeit negative from a skier’s perspective.  We have lost a lot of the gains we made from the early April snow and are back into deterioration mode.  Rocks and crevasses are jumping out all over the place, particularly in areas that were thin to begin with only a veneer of new snow.  As is usually the case we are coming closer to average concerning snow coverage and timing, but I would say we are still a bit behind. That being said there is still enjoyment to be had with skis and boards, however realize timing and hazard recognition is everything.  Lower risk from objective mountain hazards (icefall, crevasses, avalanches) exist on the left or southern side of the Ravine than on the right so staying to the Left Gully side of the Ravine is our recommendation.  Choosing our recommendation does not completely eliminate the hazards described below, but dramatically reduces your expose to them.

Icefall has been occurring from the Headwall, Sluice, and other areas. Many people have been injured or killed through the years by falling ice and a number of people had some very close calls this week. Icefall has been rapidly increasing this week due to the heat and the extended weather forecasts looks like this will continue. The greatest icefall hazard exists from the Center Headwall and the Sluice ice above Lunch Rocks, but there is potential for this to happen in just about all of the gullies.  Sitting at Lunch Rocks may be traditional, but it’s right in the cross-hairs of significant ice shelling from multiple directions.  Most of our icefall tragedies have happened at Lunch Rocks (Icefall Rocks) so they should be avoided as your base camp.   You should always be looking uphill and thinking about what might fall from above…ice, avalanches, dropped snowboards, people without crampons, etc. can quickly turn a great day into a disaster.

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

Hikers should not plan to use the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to climb to or descend from the alpine zone and the summit of Mt. Washington. From Pinkham, Lion Head, followed by the longer Boott Spur, are much better options. The heat has devoured snow on the John Sherburne Ski Trail.  It has been amazing to see the melt rate due to record warmth eating coverage all the way to Hermit Lake.  The ski trail is now closed to all use.  Avoid mud over your boot tops and eroding the trail by walking down to Pinkham Notch from Hermit Lake on the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail.

Please remember:

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

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

4-18-2012 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 4-17-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, April 17, 2012 

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

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

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

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

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

Please remember:

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

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

2012-04-17 print friendly