Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 4-6-2012

This Advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 6, 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.

When is the weather ever going to seem normal again? How about today? This is exactly the kind of weather I’ve come to expect from early April. It’s probably going to be a pleasant day down in the valley, but up on Mt. Washington it’s cold and winter-like. Over the past 48 hours, the summit has recorded 3.1” (8cm) of new snow. During this time winds have been consistently from the NW ranging from 40 to the low 80mph range (65-130kph). This is keeping us on guard for “isolated pockets” of unstable snow. Winds have loaded snow into some lee areas but had a hard time depositing anything onto some of the other exposed crust around the mountain. One thing you can count on with the current snowpack is the excellent stability of the old surface. Unfortunately, this is the very same surface that most people avoid like the plague, except for ice climbers. Skiers and snowboarders should take the time to assess each individual area of new snow, since the depth, consistency, and stability of each might be very different from others that are in close proximity. Weather today will be a battle between high pressure and a deep trough, perhaps allowing for some breaks in the clouds but you should be prepared to deal with very limited visibility. The existing hazards can be incredibly difficult to assess, both due to the fog and to the accumulations of new snow hiding these features.

Crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes are a serious threat. Currently the area from the Sluice to the Center Bowl is littered with crevasses. Most of these are covered with a thin coating of newer snow, which makes them nearly impossible to safely assess their exact location and depth. The hazards presented by the crevasses are not to be taken lightly; it is truly “no-fall” terrain. Taking into account the extent of crevasses, the severity of the consequences, and the inability to assess the hazard, the greater Lip area, which includes a section of the summer hiking trail, should be avoided entirely.

Surfaces will be icy and hard below the new snow, so long sliding falls continue to be another significant hazard. The slick surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope, potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you. An ice axe, crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely. The hard surface beneath the new snow makes belayed climbing on the steeper slopes a wise technique.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory, the ability to use technical mountaineering skills and equipment effectively is imperative.

Falling ice can happen, even on cold days such as this. A couple times over the past week we have watched ice fall into Lunch Rocks while air temperatures were below freezing. There is a lot of new ice from the cold weather over the past couple weeks. Your best defense against falling ice is to avoid being anywhere near the possible runouts. The locations at greatest risk for this hazard are the Sluice, Lunch Rocks, the Lip, and the Center Bowl. Other areas aren’t immune though, so always be aware of what’s above you.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. The only camping permitted in the Cutler River Drainage is at Hermit Lake Shelters. The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down is currently a mix of water ice, exposed rocks, and my personal favorite, “packed powder”. Cross over to the hiking trail at the rope.

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

2012-04-06 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 4-05-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Thursday 4-05-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. The Lobster Claw, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow. 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.

Coming in right on schedule, new snow started falling very late Wednesday afternoon giving the mountain 1.3″ by around midnight.  Since then, a bit more has fallen riding in on a strong NW wind gusting to hurricane force (77-80mph/120-128kph).  A slight chance of snow showers will continue today with increasing fog and continued windy conditions.  Summit temperatures will continue to stay quite wintry for the week ahead, moving from the teens today down into the lower single numbers overnight before rebounding slightly again tomorrow.  An ever-so-slight increase over the weekend will help the comfort level a little, but anticipate the summit to only reach the 20F degree mark.  Isolated areas of newly deposited windslab from the past 72 hours of light snow are slow to consolidate with the cold air in place and high winds.  Remember to constantly re-evaluate each new area of cold slab you enter and not presume it was as stable as the last one you traveled through.  This is particularly true on steeper or in more protected terrain features from W and NW winds.   Additionally, be thinking about your changing fall line and runout. A small slab that knocks you off your feet may not bury you, but the consequences of a fall can be severe.  One of the current problems that will greatly exacerbate the hazards in the Ravine is the potential for dropping clouds and fog.  Historically this has caused a number of accidents because it is very difficult to assess hazards if you can’t see them.  This is particularly true trying to ski or ride in areas with crevasses or deal with falling ice moving at 50mph down slope when you can’t see it coming.  For many seasoned mountain travelers fog is a “red light-no go” indicator.

Crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes continue to be a serious threat. Currently the area from the Sluice to the Center Bowl is littered with crevasses. Most of these are covered with a thin coating of newer snow, which makes them nearly impossible to safely assess their exact location, size and depth. The hazards presented by the crevasses are not to be taken lightly; it is truly “no-fall” terrain. Taking into account the extent of crevasses, the severity of the consequences, and the inability to assess the hazard, the greater LIP area, which includes a section of the summer hiking trail should be avoided entirely.  This is also true for the heavily crevassed areas in the northern portions of the Center Bowl underneath the headwall ice, Lip and areas towards the Sluice all the way down to the Ravine floor.  Foggy conditions will make all these problems worse.

Surfaces will be icy and hard below the new snow, so long sliding falls continue to be another significant threat. The slick surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope, potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely. The hard surface beneath the new snow makes roped climbing with anchors on the steeper slopes a wise technique in certain situations. Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory, the ability to use technical mountaineering skills and equipment effectively is imperative.

Even though temperatures this week will not be very warm, falling ice is a possibility. This was exemplified yesterday as ice fell out of the Sluice and crashed through Lunch Rocks (aka “Icefall Rocks”) There is a lot of recently formed ice from the cold weather over the past couple weeks. Your best defense against falling ice is to avoid being anywhere near the possible runouts. The locations at greatest risk for this hazard are the Sluice, Lunch Rocks, the Lip, and the Center Bowl. Other areas aren’t immune though, so always be aware of what’s above you. The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. The only camping permitted on the eastern side of Mount Washington is at Hermit Lake Shelters. The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down; please cross over to the hiking trail at the rope.

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

4-05-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday 4-04-2012

This advisory expires at Midnight, Wednesday 4-04-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. The Lobster Claw, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow. 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.

Clouds will thicken today before some snow showers develop late this afternoon and into the evening.  Early sun will give way to the potential for fog and decreased visibility. A summit high of about 20F with NW winds from 40-60+mph will be the warmest it will get over the next couple of days.  Temperatures should fall to about 10F tonight and only rebound slightly tomorrow with continued stiff winds to keep the mountain wintery and cold. There are still some isolated areas of newly deposited windslab from recent new snow that Tuesday’s cold air and high winds did little to consolidate. Remember to constantly re-evaluate each new area of cold slab you enter and not presume it was as stable as the last one you traveled through.  This is particularly true on steeper or in more protected terrain features from W and NW winds.   Additionally, be thinking about your changing fall line and runout. A small slab that knocks you off your feet may not bury you, but the consequences of a fall can be severe.

Crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes continue to be a serious threat. Currently the area from the Sluice to the Center Bowl is littered with crevasses. Most of these are covered with a thin coating of newer snow, which makes them nearly impossible to safely assess their exact location, size and depth. The hazards presented by the crevasses are not to be taken lightly; it is truly “no-fall” terrain. Taking into account the extent of crevasses, the severity of the consequences, and the inability to assess the hazard, the greater Lip area, which includes a section of the summer hiking trail should be avoided entirely.  As we have discussed in past weeks this is also true for the heavily crevassed areas in the northern portions of the Center Bowl underneath the headwall ice, Lip and areas towards the Sluice all the way down to the Ravine floor.

Surfaces will be icy and hard below the new snow, so long sliding falls continue to be another significant threat. The slick surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope, potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely. The hard surface beneath the new snow makes belayed climbing on the steeper slopes a wise technique. Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory, the ability to use technical mountaineering skills and equipment effectively is imperative.

Even though temperatures this week will not be very warm, falling ice is a possibility as sun heats the dark colored rock. There is a lot of recently formed ice from the cold weather over the past couple weeks. Your best defense against falling ice is to avoid being anywhere near the possible runouts. The locations at greatest risk for this hazard are the Sluice, Lunch Rocks, the Lip, and the Center Bowl. Other areas aren’t immune though, so always be aware of what’s above you.  The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. The only camping permitted on the eastern side of Mount Washington is at Hermit Lake Shelters. The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down; please cross over to the hiking trail at the rope.

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

4-04-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 4-3-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 3, 2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. The Lobster Claw, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow. 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.

With the exception of pockets of new snow in numerous places, recent snows have made little progress developing new slabs across large areas. On Sunday night, Mt. Washington received about 4.4” of very light density snow. Yesterday we thought this snow might be loaded into unstable slabs in the lee areas of Tuckerman. Although there was significant amounts of blowing snow along the ridges yesterday, slab development in the ravine was kept to a relatively small amount. There are isolated areas of newly deposited windslab. Each one you travel through may be different than the last, and they may be reactive to human triggering, so you should be assessing them individually. Additionally, be thinking about the fall line and runout. A small slab that knocks you off your feet may not bury you, but the consequences of a fall can be severe.

Currently, the springtime hazards are a little different than most years, due in large part to the thin snow coverage this season. Crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes are a serious threat. Currently the area from the Sluice to the Center Bowl is littered with crevasses. Most of these are covered with a thin coating of newer snow, which makes them nearly impossible to safely assess their exact location and depth. The hazards presented by the crevasses are not to be taken lightly; it is truly “no-fall” terrain. Taking into account the extent of crevasses, the severity of the consequences, and the inability to assess the hazard, I highly recommend avoiding the Lip area entirely, which includes the area of Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail.

Surfaces will be icy and hard below the new snow, so long sliding falls continue to be another significant threat. The slick surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope, potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely. The hard surface beneath the new snow makes belayed climbing on the steeper slopes a wise technique.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory, the ability to use technical mountaineering skills and equipment effectively is imperative.

Even though temperatures this week will not be very warm, falling ice is a possibility as sun heats the dark colored rock. There is a lot of recently formed ice from the cold weather over the past couple weeks. Your best defense against falling ice is to avoid being anywhere near the possible runouts. The locations at greatest risk for this hazard are the Sluice, Lunch Rocks, the Lip, and the Center Bowl. Other areas aren’t immune though, so always be aware of what’s above you.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. The only camping permitted in the Cutler River Drainage is at Hermit Lake Shelters. The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down and is in surprisingly good shape. Cross over to the hiking trail at the rope.

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

2012-04-03 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 4-2-2012

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, April 2, 2012

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. The Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, Chute, and Left Gully have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Right Gully and Hillman’s Highway have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. The Lobster Claw, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow.

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.

Well, we’re back into avalanche forecasting mode again. The mountain picked up 4” of light density snow (3.6%) yesterday afternoon and evening while winds remained virtually non-existent. This left behind a blanket of fluff that may act as a weak layer for future slabs to build onto. We expect this scenario to play out today, as winds will increase in velocity and shift from the N to the NW, ending the day in the 45-60mph (72-97kph) range. Through the day, the wind will be working to pick up and transport the snow that is currently sitting in the alpine zone. I suspect some of the new snow will be able to hide out in the rocks and vegetation, which will prevent loading from being as robust as it might be if we were in mid-winter conditions up high. But while there might be some limitations to what is available, I’m confident that there is sufficient snow to build new windslab. The key to understanding today’s avalanche danger is that the trend is for increasing avalanche danger through the day. Windloading will move most areas up through Low and into Moderate territory. Only time will tell for certain how far up the scale we go today. It may be into the upper end of the Moderate rating, or if loading is truly limited, it may just barely make it above Low.

In addition to the avalanche potential today, there are other significant hazards you need to be aware of, some of which are a little different this season than most years. Crevasses, undermined snow, and waterfall holes are a serious threat. Currently the area from the Sluice to the Center Bowl is littered with crevasses. Many of these are covered with a thin coating of newer snow, which makes them nearly impossible to safely assess their exact location and depth. We spent a lot of time yesterday looking into these problem areas, and I personally came away from the experience with a strong sense of humility and fragility. The hazards presented by the crevasses are not to be taken lightly; it is truly “no-fall” terrain. Taking into account the extent of crevasses, the severity of the consequences, and the inability to assess the hazard, I highly recommend avoiding the Lip area entirely, which includes the area of Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail.

Surfaces will be icy and hard below the new snow, so long sliding falls are another significant threat. The slick surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely. The hard surface beneath the new snow makes belayed climbing on the steeper slopes a wise technique.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory, the experience and skills to use technical mountaineering equipment is imperative.

The Harvard Cabin is now closed for the season. The only camping permitted in the Cutler River Drainage is at Hermit Lake Shelters. The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down and is in surprisingly good shape. Cross over to the hiking trail at the rope.

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

 2012-04-02 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday, April 1, 2012

This advisory expires 1200 midnight, April 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.

Sorry folks, you won’t find any clever April Fool’s jokes in this advisory. It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor; I’ve just learned through the years that no matter how obvious you think a joke may be, someone will take you seriously and then inevitably be let down. We want people coming here to have positive experiences. Yesterday, a couple hundred visitors did just that, allowing the sun sufficient time to turn icy boilerplate into edgeable snow on southerly aspects and to cook much of the avalanche threat out of the freshly deposited patches of new snow. I don’t think a single person skied Left Gully from anywhere near the top, which shows good judgment on the part of all, as it remained a steep, hard, and very frozen bump run through the day.

Today the mountain will display its ability to quickly change weather. Currently, the slopes are basking in sunshine with virtually no wind at all; it’s a perfect morning to throw on your down jacket and take your coffee to the caretaker’s porch for a while. Later today will be a different story on the mountain. Lowering clouds and snow are in the forecast for this afternoon and evening. Winds will continue to be very light for the day. Most of the precipitation will come during the overnight hours, so I don’t expect this to create new avalanche concerns through today. However, there may be lingering pockets of unstable snow from the past week’s snowfalls. These would most likely be found in areas with a more northerly aspect that didn’t see traffic yesterday. Before pointing your boards toward every untouched piece of new snow on the mountain, you would be wise to do some stability assessments in that snow. Conditions today will be dependent on how long the clouds hold off. If the sun stays on the slope for several more hours, surfaces could soften and offer decent skiing. However, as the clouds begin to block the sun, expect this process to come to a screeching halt, refreezing anything that had softened.

With the frozen surfaces comes the potential for very dangerous sliding falls. Every year we see numerous people climbing very steep and icy slopes (e.g. the Lip) without an ice axe and crampons. Remember, complete incompetence is not a prerequisite to having a misstep. Anyone can slip and fall, no matter how good you are. The fact is, even very experienced mountaineers with all the right equipment would still have a very difficult time self arresting under the current conditions on some slopes in Tuckerman, so play it safe.

As we continue to have seasonably cold weather and even some more snow this week, the development of hazards such as falling ice, undermined snow, and crevasses will be slow. Generally speaking, warmer and sunnier days will bring these hazards to the forefront, while on colder days they will step back and let sliding falls take the center stage. Two recommendations are worth remembering. First, Lunch Rocks is in the fall line of ice crashing out of the Sluice and Headwall areas. Even on the cooler days, you’re better off parking yourself lower down in the bowl or off on the left side to avoid icefall hazards. Second, climb up what you plan to descend. This gives you an opportunity to check for hazards such as crevasses at a leisurely pace.

Thanks to cold weather and the 13.5” of snow in the past week, our snow cat has been able to extend the skiable snow farther down the Sherburne. If today’s forecast is at the upper end of the range (i.e. 5” or more in the next two days) we may open the trail all the way to Pinkham Notch on Tuesday.

 

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.

 

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

2012-04-01 Print Friendly

 

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, 3-31-2012

This advisory expires at 12midnight, Saturday 3-31-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. The Sluice, Center Bowl, and the Chute have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.  The Right Gully, Lip, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.  The Lobster Claw, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow. 

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. 

Since last weekend the summit picked up snow everyday this week adding up to about 13.5” (34cm).  Sounds great doesn’t it?  But when you start looking around you’ve got to wonder where it all went.  Plenty of old surface is peppered around all our forecast areas intermingled with small to large patches of new snow.  Although it doesn’t quite feel like we received over a foot up high, we do have new snow issues to contend with, albeit limited to specific areas.  I was close to calling all forecast areas at “Low” this morning.  However one significant factor pushing me into “Moderate” for a few locations is the potential for a high number of triggers (i.e. you and your friends) running around due to it being a “Spring Skiing” Saturday.  More triggers covering a given area increase the possibility of finding the “sweet spot” or weakness on a given slope.  Although we don’t have a lot instability concerns, if skiers and riders hit most of the new slabs in Tuckerman today there is a possibility of a human triggered avalanche.  The largest pockets we are focused on as problematic are in the Sluice below the ice which has already seen some foot traffic; above and below the Headwall ice and down low under the Lip in the Center Bowl; and in the Chute above the pinch point in the hour glass.  As individuals enter these locations I would be cautious about being under these slopes in the runouts.  Enough snow exists in some of these snowfields to bury a person.  Besides avalanche issues, the other problem the new snow is contributing to involve hiding a number of crevasses, mostly in the Headwall ice area and particularly under and near the Lip.  Because of this The Lip continues to be not recommended as falling into one of these holes could be very dire.  Left Gully and Hillman’s will be hard and icy, but are the best choices relative to your other options around the Ravine and the hazards they harbor. 

Cold air is still controlling the mountain.  The old grey colored surfaces are very hard, so long sliding falls are a significant threat to all mountain travelers in angled terrain. The slick icy surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory, the experience and skills to use this equipment is imperative.    

The annual undermined snow and crevasses exist around the Ravine. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the Sluice, through the Lip and into the Center Headwall. Undermined snow can be found in many locations.  Cold temperatures this week have strengthened snow in relation to these issues, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. Realize falling into an open crevasse from above is potentially more likely due to the icy surface conditions than when it’s soft.  We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.  As we already mentioned, expect new snow to be hiding a number of crevasses. Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it onto anything in the runout. Solar rays on dark colored rock can loosen newly-formed ice even if temperatures remain below freezing.

 The Harvard Cabin will close tomorrow for the season.    The Sherburne Ski Trail, full of icy bumps coated in a few new inches of snow, is open about 1/3 of the way down.  Cross over to the hiking trail at the rope.

 Please remember: 

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.  For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, 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
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

2012-03-31 Print Friendly

 

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 3-30-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Friday 3-30-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.  The Lobster Claw, Right Gully, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow.

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 of this morning the summit received another 3.5” (8.9cm) over the past day, giving us close to a foot (30cm) since the weekend.  Although we do have new snow in the Ravine, don’t expect a blanketed foot of snow laid evenly across the mountain.  Generally we’re wondering where it all went.  A great deal of blowing snow likely got eaten up by the irregular terrain above treeline due to the early spring melt-off that occurred.  Like in the early season, the nooks and crannies can make a lot of snow disappear before it makes it to the Ravine’s edge.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to be hiking through a few inches of snow on the trail just below Hermit Lake.  The Ravine is still cloaked in secrecy by clouds, fog and blowing snow so we have yet to see the outcome of new snow loading from the past 48 hours.  Nevertheless we’ll get into the terrain this morning to find out what we can.  Once again high winds, peaking at 78mph (126kph), undoubtedly blew new snow off icy cold slopes exposed to NW winds such as down low in the Bowl, particularly on the southern end below the Chute.  Conversely, I would expect new slabs that developed in sheltered locations, strong lee areas and in upper start zones near the horizon, to have stability concerns.  Summit temperatures over the past 72 hours ranged from the twenties down to a current of +1F, so snow has remained fairly cold being slow to stabilize.  In addition, upwards of another couple inches are expected today on NW winds currently gusting 60-70mph, and dropping to 35-50+ later.  This will continue to load snow available from the alpine zone into the Ravine.  Until some clearing conditions develop later I would be conservative due to visual clues being a bull’s-eye piece of data today.  The old grey snow and the fresh white snow will be in excellent contrast to one another allowing you to discern very stable old surfaces to questionable new snowfields.  We will post any updated information in the Weekend Update later today so come on back to www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org

Due to frozen surface conditions long sliding falls are a significant threat to all mountain travelers in angled terrain. The slick icy surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you.  Exposed rocks, chunks of ice, trees, and moguls that feel like rocks all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory the experience and skills to use this equipment is imperative.  If you have to rent this equipment I would think twice.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the Sluice, through the Lip and into the Center Headwall. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully. Cold temperatures this week have strengthened snow in relation to these issues, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. Realize falling into an open crevasse from above is potentially more likely due to the icy surface conditions and fog than when it’s soft and clear.  We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.

Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout.

The Harvard Cabin at the base of Huntington Ravine will close on Sunday for the season.    The Sherburne Ski Trail, full of icy bumps coated in a few new inches of snow, is open about 1/3 of the way down.  Cross over to the hiking trail at the closure rope.  New snow is helping cover the frozen water ice on the Tucks trail below Hermit Lake, but traction devices on your feet will be very helpful 

Please remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.  For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, 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
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

2012-03-30 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 03-29-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Thursday 3-29-2012

Tuckerman Ravine will have MODERATE avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.  The Lobster Claw, Right Gully, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow.

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 of Wednesday morning at dawn the summit picked up a quick 3.3” (8.4cm) of snow during the previous 8 hours.  There was little snow movement down into the Ravine due to the light to moderate winds through mid afternoon.  Later, wind speeds ramped up, gusting into the 60’s mph (96kph), with a 24 hour maximum of 70mph (112kph) around 7pm.  This 6 hour high velocity window moved some snow down into the lee of W winds before subsiding again over the past 9 hours, while shifting from the W to the NW.  Light snow showers have been falling since about 2am and are expected to continue through the morning.  This precipitation should taper to snow showers giving us an additional 2” (5cm) of snow today.  While this falls wind will increase from the current of 35mph (56kph) to over 60mph (96kph) later today, moving any new snow mostly in lee areas of NW winds.  Today’s “Moderate” avalanche forecast is due to loading that occurred around dark last night and in anticipation of additional snow today along with an increasing NW wind.  Some patches and pockets of new snow have already filled in some of the irregular surface texture allowing for a smoother bed surface for future loading.  If today’s full snow loading potential does play out there will still be extensive old hard surfaces in Tuckerman.  In reality hard icy conditions will prevail as the majority of coverage compared to new snow.  Therefore, be ready for both very hard old surfaces and unstable cold snow.  New snow issues should develop particularly near the horizon of prominent gullies or under strong terrain features of W and NW winds from the Sluice over to through the Headwall.   Clouds and fog will obstruct quality views making good assessments of the terrain from a distance difficult.  Because of this you’ll need to visualize the spatial variability, or differences, of snow conditions.  Poor visibility should continue until clearing conditions occur tomorrow.  We will spend time in the field Friday morning to have the best information for the weekend.  Looking ahead to the next couple of days, cold conditions will continue with the summit potentially breaking the March 30th low temperature record 24 hours from now.  This, after smashing the high records last week, ah…the ying and yang of mountain weather.  If you can’t convince yourself to love the diversity it will drive you crazy, I guarantee it.

Due to frozen surface conditions long sliding falls are a significant threat to all mountain travelers in angled terrain. The slick icy surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you.  Exposed rocks, chunks of ice, trees, and moguls that feel like rocks all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory the experience and skills to use this equipment is imperative.  If you have to rent them I would think twice.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the Sluice, through the Lip and into the Center Headwall. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully. Cold temperatures this week have strengthened snow in relation to these issues, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. Realize falling into an open crevasse from above is potentially more likely due to the icy surface conditions and fog than when it’s soft and clear.  We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.

Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout.

The Harvard Cabin at the base of Huntington Ravine will be closing for the season this weekend.  Saturday night is the final evening for overnight accommodations.  The Sherburne Ski Trail, full of icy bumps, is open about 1/3 of the way down.  Cross over to the hiking trail at the closure rope.  There is a lot of newly frozen water ice on the hiking trails. Traction devices on your feet will be very helpful.

 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
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

3-29-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, 3-28-2012

This advisory expires at midnight Wednesday, 3-28-2012

Tuckerman Ravine currently has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely EXCEPT IN ISOLATED TERRAIN FEATURES.  Read on concerning the potential for increasing avalanche danger.

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.

Between cold air and new snow it certainly seems like we won’t be losing much coverage this week.  As of dark yesterday evening the summit has picked up 5.5” (14cm) since Sunday.  The vast majority came on Monday along with very high winds.  The combination of high velocities and icy surfaces has kept new powder from adhering on a high percentage of open slopes.  Most of the new snow ended up deep in the woods as well as in the nooks and crannies of the highly textured spring terrain. Since about 11pm last night snowfall has waxed and waned with winds between 30-45mph (48-72kph).  The summit is reporting 3.3” (8.4cm) of snow over the past 8 hours with more potentially on the way.  A fast moving system could give us an additional inch, potentially two, through this morning before turning to a wintry mix this afternoon.  Expect pockets of new snow to develop, depending on actual accumulations, mostly in the high start zones of gullies and slopes.  Pay attention to how much snow falls, and loads, associated with the forecasted light to moderate winds before precipitation changes to a heavier type later today.  Mixed precipitation would add additional load to any slabs that develop. If we do receive 2+ inches (5cm) this morning and spend an extended period at the upper wind forecast of 50+ mph before decreasing we will move into MODERATE AVALANCHE DANGER.  The moguls, runnels, skier created platforms, and a plethora of natural Spring induced depressions will absorb and anchor the initial loading.  However, eventually the rough texture and structure of the terrain could be overwhelmed by new snow creating a new flat bed surface.  The current terrain has the ability to hold and absorb more snow amounts than the smooth conditions of midwinter, but I would be prepared for an increasing avalanche danger perhaps jumping over the fence from “Low” to “Moderate” if the upper end of wind and snow comes to fruition.  Also be prepared for a thin blanket of snow to hide some of the traditional spring hazards.

Due to frozen surface conditions long sliding falls are a significant threat to all mountain travelers in angled terrain. The slick icy surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you.  Exposed rocks, chunks of ice, trees, and moguls that feel like rocks all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. Evaluate what a lost edge while trying to ski or board would mean. In many places the consequences for fast sliding falls are pretty grim. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory the experience and skills to use this equipment is imperative.  If you have to rent them I would think twice.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the Sluice, through the Lip and into the Center Headwall. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully. Cold temperatures this week have strengthened snow in relation to these issues, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. Realize falling into an open crevasse from above is potentially more likely due to the icy surface conditions and fog than when it’s soft and clear.  We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.

Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout.

The Harvard Cabin at the base of Huntington Ravine will be closing for the season this weekend.  Saturday night is the final evening for overnight accommodations.  The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down.  There are a couple patches of bare ground and a stream crossing to negotiate before you get to the closure rope. There is a lot of newly frozen water ice on the hiking trails. Traction devices on your feet will be very helpful.

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

3-28-2012 Print Friendly