Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Saturday May 8th printable version

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

The rain and thunderstorms forecasted for this morning are right on schedule.  Hermit Lake is at 33F (1C), in the fog with drizzle and gusty winds.  It appears that all our usual visitors are using their internet weather resources because it’s dead here on the mountain.  About a dozen are on the way down and a dozen on the way up with a net gain of …well zero.   Today should remain wet but as evening approaches winds will pick up changing rain to snow at the higher elevations.  Upwards of 4” (10cm) of snow is expected on the summits with a WNW wind at hurricane force.  This may bring back avalanche concerns for tomorrow so be sure to check Sunday’s advisory for new concerns.

An enormous amount of changes have once again occurred over the past several days.  Left and Right gully continue to be the locations of choice for skiing and riding in the Ravine and have been the slowest to change with the least amount of hazards.  Although their risk is less than other locations consider the issues that today’s low visibility will bring in addition to some undermining.  UNDERMINED SNOW is right near the top of the list as a developing hazard that is approaching its peak in a number of areas.  This refers to any place where the snowpack has been eaten away from below leaving a weakened snow bridge at the surface. Undermined snow often doesn’t offer much warning before you punch through, but clues such as sagging snow or running water can help you identify problem areas.  I busted through in a number of places getting to the top of Right gully yesterday and then a ton above treeline.  I would advise moving slowly to prepare for punching in.  We’ve seen more than one broken leg from this over the years.  The closer you are to exposed rocks and brush the greater the undermining.  The most challenging problem are the rocks not yet visible above the snow surface but are lurking only 6” below the snowline.  They have been weakening the snow by conducting the earth’s heat to the snowpack developing cavities. Again move cautiously particularly when moving downhill on foot when you’re apt to be moving most quickly.

A tremendous amount of ICE fell this week which is much better than on the weekend, but some ice still exists.  However icefall potential is drifting to the back of the spring hazard list quickly only to be taken over by crevasses and undermining leading the charge.  Unfortunately the icefall isn’t done being a problem because now a great deal of it is littered all over the floor which act as rocks for you to crash into if you don’t check your speed well.  It can also be very difficult to see in fog’s flat light which is likely to be a problem over the next couple of days.  We have pictures of this as well as the multitude of crevasses peppering the Headwall and the Lip area on our “Latest Tuckerman Photos” page.  CREVASSES throughout the Headwall have opened up considerably this week. Many of these are undercut by a flowing river that runs beneath the snow through the ravine floor. Stay well clear of these and be sure to do a thorough assessment of your route before sliding downhill. The poor visibility this weekend will compound the problem, so be very conservative as the consequences of falling into a crevasse can be dire.  The Lip and the area under it most of the way to the floor of the Ravine has completely fallen apart with crevasses and should be avoided.  Due to the unique hazards that falling from the Tuckerman Ravine trail, which encompasses the Lip, creates for visitors it is closed to all use by Forest Supervisor Order.

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.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed to all use for the season. The Lion Head Summer Trail is now open, however it still has a section where it traverses steep snow. Although short, an ice axe and crampons will greatly improve your safety in this section of trail and are recommended.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:28 a.m., Friday, May 7, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

For those of you heading up to Tuckerman Ravine today, either for a day trip or the entire weekend, you might want to slow your pace down a little bit. By hustling up here you may earn respect and admiration for your enthusiasm, but you’ll only be rewarded with a Ravine that is engulfed in clouds with strong winds, chilly temperatures, and frozen snow surfaces. As time passes, the weather should get better today. Clouds are forecasted to clear off the mountain and winds will diminish to 40-55mph (64-89kph) this afternoon. I would expect snow surfaces will soften up when the sun finally is able to reach the ground. With a low pressure system forecasted to pass through this weekend, this afternoon may be the best bet for skiing and riding over the next couple days. If it’s the entire weekend you’re coming for, I’d recommend you take a good look at what’s going into your pack. The Summit is forecasting all types of precipitation for Saturday, including rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow. It’ll be a good weekend to pack extra warm dry clothes and good quality rain gear, even if it means leaving behind some of your unnecessary items.

It is remarkable how the number and size of CREVASSES has grown since last weekend. The lower Lip area is now fully disconnected from the snow up above. Beginning today the Tuckerman Ravine trail will be closed to all use from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This is an annual closure due to the unique hazards presented in this area; this section of trail will remain closed until full meltout. Crevasses throughout the Headwall have also opened up wide. Many of these are undercut by a flowing river that runs beneath the snow through the ravine floor. Stay well clear of these and be sure to do a thorough assessment of your route before sliding downhill. The poor visibility this weekend will compound this problem, so be very conservative as the consequences of falling into a crevasse can be dire, especially if nobody sees it happen.

UNDERMINED SNOW has also increased in prominence through the past week. This refers to any place where the snowpack has been eaten away from below leaving a weakened snow bridge at the surface. Undermined snow often doesn’t offer much warning before you punch through, but clues such as sagging snow or running water can help you identify problem areas. Hillman’s Highway is quickly on its way to becoming a series of unconnected patches in its midsection. Take a good look at it from Hermit Lake to assess whether or not you want to deal with this issue.

Though lots of ice has fallen at this point in the season ICEFALL is still a significant concern. The Headwall still contains the majority of hanging ice. It is critical to recognize where icefall may occur and have a plan for what you’ll do when it falls. Don’t linger under hanging ice, including spots like the Lunch Rocks.

The thin upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open, but will likely be closed by the weekend. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail at the rope. For the safety of those walking on this trail do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Summer Trail is now open. This trail has a small section with a steep traverse across snow. We recommend an ice axe and crampons for safe travel across this section.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:03 a.m., Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

The rain and thunderstorms expected this morning will chomp away at our snowpack eating all it can before the rushing cold front moves in drier air. Rain showers will persist on and off for most of the day as wind velocities pick up ushering in a cool airmass dropping the mercury through the evening. Wind speeds will escalate to hurricane force (77mph/124kph) this afternoon and toy with the century mark (100mph/160kph) during the overnight. Due to wind and rain certainly expect today to be rather unpleasant in the mountains. Fog and an occasional dropping cloud ceiling will limit visibility from time to time in the Ravine. This will make it difficult to see our typical hazards such as falling ice or ice chunks littering the snow covered floor in flat light. Take this into account if venturing above Hermit Lake today. Friday will bring clearing conditions but temperatures in the 20’s F (-3/-4C) and high winds should keep the freshly water soaked snow frozen hard and slick. Anticipate firm unforgiving slopes requiring crampons and an ice axe to travel safely. As of this morning Saturday looks wet with rain showers likely before clearing up for the later half of the weekend.

Though lots of ice has fallen at this point in the season ICEFALL is still one of your biggest concerns. Recognizing where icefall may occur and formulating a plan is critical. Don’t linger under ice including spots like the Lunch Rocks. CREVASSES have tripled in number over the last week and present a very real threat today. A week ago they were largely limited to the upper areas of the Lip and Headwall, but now new slots are located much farther down. The Lip area should be avoided as it has become criss-crossed with crevasses making it fraught with many slots trying to grab you. Stay well clear of the crevasses created by the waterfalls in the Headwall as they lead into a river that runs below the ravine floor. Expect a number of these locations to begin collapsing soon as the large cracks isolate patches of snow. Each season the section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden trail, which includes the Lip area, is closed when deemed necessary by a Snow Ranger due to the unique hazards it presents. Anticipate this to happen soon. The UNDERMINING caused by this subterranean river is significant and the edges of these crevasses are often severely undercut. Undermining exists in all areas where water runs below the snow but is becoming more of an issue in places like Hillman’s Highway. Watch out for holes, running water and depressions in the snow because there may be little supporting it from below. Hillman’s Highway is quickly on its way to becoming a series of unconnected patches in its midsection. Take a good look at it from Hermit Lake to assess whether or not you want to deal with this issue.

The thin upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open, but will likely be closed by the weekend. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail at the rope. For the safety of those walking on this trail do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is open. We are keeping an eye on the summer trail and will make the change when conditions warrant it. This will likely happen very soon.

Please Remember:
•   Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
 
•   You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
 
•   For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 6:31 a.m., Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

As if I needed yet another piece of evidence to show me how springtime seems to be ahead of schedule, yesterday I had my first dozen or so black fly bites down in Conway. In a “normal” spring this happens around mid-May, while early May is blissfully free of insects. Running a parallel course to what’s going on in the valley, the snowpack around the Presidentials is running a few weeks ahead of its time. Sadly, the 22″ of snow that fell last week has all found its way into the rivers and is nowhere to be found on the ground. These conditions have been the result of a below average snowfall this winter followed by weather patterns that have often included nighttime low temperatures well above the freezing mark. The past several days have demonstrated the impact that nonstop melting can have. Visible changes in Tuckerman Ravine can be seen each day, including the widening of waterfall holes, growth of crevasses, and more ice falling to the floor of the Ravine. This afternoon you can expect rain and possibly thundershowers and hail, which certainly won’t help the snowpack stay where it is. Keep an eye on the sky today; getting caught above treeline in a thundering hailstorm with skis over your shoulder isn’t a fun experience.

Though lots of the largest ice has fallen at this point in the season ICEFALL is still one of your biggest concerns. As melting continues we will see ice peel off the steep walls surrounding the ravine and come crashing to the floor. Recognizing where this may occur and formulating a plan is critical. Don’t linger under ice including spots like the Lunch Rocks. CREVASSES have doubled in number over the last week and present a very dangerous threat today. A few days ago they were largely limited to the upper areas of the Lip and Headwall but yesterday exposed new slots located much farther down. Some are small and may grab a leg while others can swallow you whole. Steer well clear of the crevasses created by the waterfalls in the Headwall as they lead into a river that runs below the ravine floor. The UNDERMINING caused by this subterranean river is frightening and the edges of of these crevasses are often severely undercut. Undermining exists in all areas where water runs below the snow but is becoming more of an issue in places like Hillman’s Highway. Watch out for holes, running water and sagging snow because there may be little supporting it from below.

The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open but is nearing its end with lots of thin cover and exposed rocks. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail at the rope. For the safety of those walking on this trail do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is open. We are keeping an eye on the summer trail and will make the change when conditions warrant it.

Please Remember:
• Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.

• You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.

• For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 6:54 a.m., Monday, May 3, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely EXCEPT IN ISOLATED POCKETS. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Today we continue the prolonged stretch of non-freezing temperatures on Mt Washington. In Tucks this period began on Friday morning as the remnants of a spring storm blew out of the area and temperatures began to climb. The summit followed closely behind, breaking the freezing mark Friday night and remaining very warm through this morning. Yesterday’s summit high was a record tying 58F (14C) while the low was only 47F (8C). This prolonged period of warmth caused rapid deterioration of the snowpack and I can’t count the number of times that we commented on how things were seemingly changing before our eyes. Though today’s summit temperatures are forecasted to fall a few degrees from their current 50F (10C) I would expect the continued melt and incoming rain to further this process of rapid snowpack decay. Waterfalls were running over the Headwall cliffs all through the day yesterday and the amount of water moving down the Cutler River was impressive. Lots of ice came toppling down and crevasses began to appear before our eyes. This deterioration was most prominent in the Lip and Headwall areas.

Though lots of the largest ice has fallen at this point in the season ICEFALL is still one of your biggest concerns. As melting continues we will see ice peel off the steep walls surrounding the ravine and come crashing to the floor. Recognizing where this may occur and formulating a plan is critical. Don’t linger under ice including spots like the Lunch Rocks. CREVASSES have doubled in number over the last week and present a very dangerous threat today. A few days ago they were largely limited to the upper areas of the Lip and Headwall but yesterday exposed new slots located much farther down. Some are small and may grab a leg while others can swallow you whole. Steer well clear of the crevasses created by the waterfalls in the Headwall as they lead into a river that runs below the ravine floor. The UNDERMINING caused by this subterranean river is frightening and the edges of of these crevasses are often severely undercut. Undermining exists in all areas where water runs below the snow (like, say gullies?) but is becoming more of an issue in places like Hillman’s Highway. Watch out for holes, running water and sagging snow because there may be little supporting it from below. The rainclouds forecasted for today may make these hazards difficult to detect from a distance so be conservative in your choices and make sure you climb up whatever you plan to ski or ride down.

There is no route out of the Ravine through the brook or Little Headwall so save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the hiking trail down to Hermit Lake. The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open but is nearing its end with lots of thin cover and exposed rocks. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail at the rope. For the safety of those walking on this trail do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is open.

Please Remember:
•   Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
 
•   You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
 
•   For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

 

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:58 a.m., Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely EXCEPT IN ISOLATED POCKETS. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Yesterday’s temps rose to 50F (10C) at the summit and today the mercury is expected to push even higher. High clouds and a light breeze helped to mitigate solar gain and slow our concerns about rapid warming of new windslab. Numerous loose snow avalanches occurred in steep terrain and the sunshine also brought down some ice and rockfall. Temps remained quite warm overnight and it is currently a balmy 52F (11C) at Hermit Lake. Rain and clouds continued to eat away at the snowpack during the overnight hours and it seems as if we lost more snow last night than we did during yesterday’s sunshine. Old surface is now showing in many areas but new snow remains in a number of spots. Although we are now down to a Low rating these areas should still keep your attention for a couple of reasons. After being cooked by high temperatures yesterday people were describing the snow as “manky”, “gloppy”, and “grabby.” With so much warmth and liquid in this snow I would expect significant sluffing to take place in steep terrain. Though it may not bury you it could surely drag you over a cliff or into one of the reemerging crevasses. Additionally I still have some concern about the stability of thicker windslab where it was able to avoid full solar gain such as in the narrows of the Chute. The Observatory is calling for the chance of afternoon rain and thundershowers and if we receive a quick blast of heavy rain it would not surprise me to see one of these pockets release. The concern is not enough to warrant a Moderate rating but it is enough for it to stick in the back of the mind.

ICEFALL is one of your biggest concerns today. The summit went above freezing on Friday afternoon and hasn’t locked back up since then. As melting occurs we will see ice peel off the steep walls surrounding the ravine and come crashing to the floor. Recognizing where this may occur and formulating a plan is critical. Don’t linger under ice including spots like the Lunch Rocks. CREVASSES in and around the Headwall and Lip are emerging from the new snow at a rapid rate today. Some are small and may grab one leg while others can swallow you whole. Be especially careful around the crevasses created by the waterfalls in the Headwall as they lead into a river that runs below the ravine floor. Better yet, avoiding these crevasse locations entirely would be a prudent choice. The UNDERMINING caused by this subterranean river is not nearly as bad as other places like the bottom of Hillman’s or the riverbed below the Bowl. Watch out for cracking and sagging snow as there may be little supporting it from below.

There is no route out of the Ravine through the brook or Little Headwall so save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the hiking trail down to Hermit Lake. The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail was helped by this week’s storm but most of the 2′ that we received will be gone by the end of the day. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail at the rope. For the safety of those hiking up this trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is open.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:20 a.m., Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger today. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are probable. Be increasingly cautious when in or under steeper terrain. The exceptions to this are the Lower Snowfields and Little Headwall. The Lower Snowfields have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Use caution in steep terrain. The Little Headwall remains “Not Posted” since it has melted out for the season.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

The two feet of snow that fell mid-week with very high NW winds generated an avalanche cycle on Thursday that produced some impressive results. Under an “Extreme” rating most all of our forecast areas ran with Left Gully being the big winner. Although it continued to fill back in with yesterday’s loading the crown line depth was close to the height of an adult skier. Avalanches from the Sluice and Lip hammered into Lunch Rocks covering a good portion of what was exposed last weekend. Winds then reloaded most of the Ravine with the Center Bowl over to the Lobster Claw doing the best. This covered the majority of the fracture lines and is now the main problem/hazard for today. These cold slabs received new loading through Friday afternoon and a small natural slab avalanche occurred to the right of the Chute in the first half of the day. High winds kept the sun’s heat from penetrating too deeply into the snowpack, but protected lee areas facing E and S still saw a period of sun rollers/snowballing.

That brings us today. Very warm air is moving into the region this morning perhaps breaking some summit records on the summit by the end of the weekend. As this occurs winds will subside maximizing the sun’s ability to bring heat into the snowpack. This should generate several rounds of sluffing and perhaps some wet slabs. Here in lies the problem. Determining the timing of wet slab avalanches due to solar weakening is difficult. With this said we believe that the “Considerable” rating is the most appropriate to reflect the possibility of natural avalanches. Skier induced sluffing can be expected to happen through the day and it may have the mass needed to cause a slab failure. These issues will rise through the day as heat escalates with south facing slopes leading other aspects with this problem. It is possible that numerous skiers may track up a slope early in the day only to have a later individual trigger an avalanche as continued weakening allows deeper ski penetration increasing the “impact bulb” to a colder weakness below. This is a difficult situation for us and for you because at the end of the day I would not be completely surprised if slab avalanches don’t happen. However it is possible that they will and the ramifications may be great. For a long detailed discussion of wet snow avalanches and the sun’s effect on slabs and stability seek out one of the US Forest Service Snow Rangers dressed in green today at Hermit Lake. Some old surface exists primarily in Hillman’s Highway, the Lower Snowfields, and Left Gully due to wind scouring. This may provide a better alternative than others reducing your risk, but understand they are not without problems such as natural avalanches from above due to the heat issues already discussed. Also be very thoughtful about how you enter and exit these areas. Are you under more significant runouts as you traverse out is a question to ask yourself.

In addition to the sun affecting snow ICEFALL potential will increase today potentially triggering a slab or rolling down into you. CREVASSES in and around the Headwall, Bowl, and Lip are mostly hidden by a layer of new snow and are somewhat like giant lion traps. Because of this coupled with icefall and avalanche hazards these locations are best avoided entirely. All these issues together make the Lunch Rocks a bad place to sit. Although advertised in many places as the place to relax it’s the worst location available when the Ravine harbors so many objective hazards. Stay clear of this area, but also realize that once you walk on the floor you are in the avalanche runout for avalanches. Once you step onto the snow covered floor look around at all the debris, branches and broken trees, this SCREAMS AVALANCHE TERRAIN!

Even with the new snow there is still no route out of the Ravine through the brook or Little Headwall. Save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the hiking trail down to Hermit Lake. The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail was helped by this week’s storm, but the lower mountain is melting rapidly. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail at the rope. For the safety of those hiking up this trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is open.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:42 a.m., Friday, April 30, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger today. Natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are probable. Be increasingly cautious when in or under steeper terrain. The exceptions to this are the Lower Snowfields and Little Headwall. The Lower Snowfields have Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Use caution in steep terrain. The Little Headwall remains “Not Posted” since it has melted out for the season.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

This storm was the classic Mt. Washington type that we hope for all winter long. After seemingly being put on hold last Sunday and Monday, precipitation finally began to fall on Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning over a foot (30cm) of snow had fallen across the mountain. Total storm accumulations from the event ended up just shy of 22″ (55cm) on the Summit and about the same at Hermit Lake. Snow densities varied some throughout the event, but averaged around 11-12% across upper elevations. As snow continued to fall on Wednesday the wind began to increase in speed as it marched around the compass rose. From Wednesday until this morning, winds moved from the NE through the N all the way to the WNW. Maximum velocity was reached last night with a gust of 95mph (153kph) and speeds were sustained around 80mph (129kph) from the WNW. Although snowfall came to an end Wednesday night, these winds were easily able to transport significant amounts of snow around the mountain from the ideal direction and speed to load slabs into all the forecast areas of Tuckerman. These conditions lead us to rate the avalanche danger yesterday as Extreme. This morning evidence of avalanche activity can be seen in Hillman’s Highway, the Lower Snowfields, Left Gully and the Headwall. From the Chute across the Headwall and into Right Gully large areas of new snow exists likely covering up a number of fracture lines from the past 24 hours. We will have more information on where avalanches occurred later today after we have been in the field.

We expect to see winds begin to decrease as the pressure gradient slackens with the incoming high pressure system. This will begin to shut down new loading which is still happening over most of our forecast areas. The Considerable rating for some locations is due to the possibility of natural avalanches. This rating also means that human triggered avalanches are probable, so traveling in avalanche terrain should be done only with a hefty amount of avalanche experience, excellent safe travel practices, a conservative approach, and the appropriate avalanche rescue gear. If loading shuts down sooner than expected Hillman’s Highway and the Left gully may be more on the upper end of the Moderate rating by late in the day.

As mentioned, a high pressure system is moving in for the next couple days. In the bullet points at the bottom of the advisory you’ll see a mention of using your “understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack.” Today and tomorrow will be excellent days for observing how this can happen. There are fresh cold slabs sitting in steep terrain on numerous aspects. Sunshine will be plentiful, and winds today will be strong but the trend is for diminishing speeds. One question for today and tomorrow is how warm will the new slabs get? Aspect to the sun will definitely play a role, as will the ability of the wind to rob the snowpack of heat gained from the sun. A question for later today will be has the heat weakened slabs enough to make them more unstable? This will likely be the major issue for tomorrow as low wind speeds and 60 degree temperatures will be heating these cold slabs quickly. This point is something we will be thinking a lot about while doing our field work today. We’ll post new snowpack thoughts and weather forecast news in the Weekend Update on our website later this afternoon. If you are planning a trip here for the weekend you should give it a look.

Prior to this snowfall the Ravine was dominated by springtime hazards such as crevasses, undermined snow and falling ice. Today these threats will begin to reemerge from their recent burial. As temperatures rise into the weekend so will the potential for your physical well-being to be negatively impacted by one or more of these hazards. Falling ice and crevasses buried by new snow will trail just behind avalanche concerns for tomorrow. So…in the end we will have a number of significant hazards for you to face if you do venture towards the mountain; AVALANCHES, ICEFALL, CREVASSES, and some UNDERMINING.

Even with the new snow there is still no route out of the Ravine through the brook or Little Headwall. Save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the hiking trail down to Hermit Lake. The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail still had coverage before this storm. Expect new snow all the way to Pinkham to be hiding a number of waterbar and rock hazards if you venture into the lower 2/3 of the trail. For the safety of those hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is open.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 6:55 a.m., Thursday, April 29, 2010

TUCKERMAN RAVINE HAS EXTREME AVALANCHE DANGER TODAY. WIDESPREAD AVALANCHE ACTIVITY IS CERTAIN. EXTREMELY UNSTABLE SLABS ARE CERTAIN ON MOST ASPECTS AND SLOPE ANGLES, LARGE DESTRUCTIVE AVALANCHES ARE POSSIBLE. AVOID AVALANCHE TERRAIN INCLUDING RUNOUT PATHS IN THE FLATS.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

To have the “Extreme” rating come out this late in the season is unusual, but quite appropriate due to just short of 2 feet (60cm) of snow falling on the summit as well as Hermit Lake. Over the past 36 hours the upper elevations have been getting pounded by snow with winds conducive to maximal loading into Tuckerman. Many large storms in the past come from the East giving us lackluster loading performance as it usually can do more scouring and snow removal than deposition. That’s not the case with this weather maker! This event started with light winds from the NE yesterday and has marched to its resting place from the NW. This storm should give us a series of avalanche cycles as building winds will give the Ravine a consistent reload to fire off another round of avalanches. It’s possible that the continual loading will generate enough constant avalanche activity that very large destructive avalanches may be limited. This begins splitting hairs between High and Extreme’s destructive force; however I am confident in saying that avalanches are CERTAIN today. THESE CONDITIONS MAKE IT CLEAR. AVOID AVALANCHE TERRAIN, AVOID JUST GOING “TO LOOK”, AND AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO TOUCH DEEP SNOW BECAUSE IT MAY TOUCH YOU….HARD.

Winds velocities will increase through the day gusting well over 75mph (120kph) from the NW this afternoon. Some sources are showing a very tight pressure gradient generating the potential of wind gusts over 110mph (176kph). This trend will continue during the overnight with maximum velocities during the hours just before dawn on Friday. NW winds will subside tomorrow, but tailing off 100+mph (160+kph) is still quite nasty. Wind speeds should stay above hurricane force (77mph) for a good portion of the day, continuing some snow loading.

Prior to this snowfall the Ravine was dominated by springtime hazards such as crevasses, undermined snow and falling ice. These still exist, but are close to moot because of the over arching avalanche problems. You’ll be buried by an avalanche before you even make it to any of the crevasses. As the snow stops flying we’ll revisit our discussion of these hazards.

Although this shouldn’t matter today because you’ll be avoiding the Ravine, but I’ll say it anyway. There is currently no route out of the Ravine through the brook or Little Headwall. Save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the hiking trail down to Hermit Lake. The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail still had coverage before this storm. Expect new snow all the way to Pinkham to be hiding a number of waterbar and rock hazards if you venture into the lower 2/3 of the trail. For the safety of those hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is still open.

Please Remember:
•   Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
 
•   You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
 
•   For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

 

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:51 a.m., Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has HIGH avalanche danger today. Natural and human triggered avalanches are likely on a variety of slope angles and aspects. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. The Little Headwall is no longer posted due to the lack of snow and open water. READ ON FOR SPECIFICS OF TODAYS AVALANCHE DANGER ISSUES.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

In New England we always have to keep one eye over our shoulders to make sure we don’t get surprised by the return of winter. I hope you have done that because winter’s back yet again with only days away from the beginning May. The NH DOT is reporting 10″ (25cm) in Pinkham and Crawford Notches and the summit of Washington picked up 16.3″ (41.5cm) melting down to 1.81″ (4.6cm) of water as of 7:30 this morning. Hermit Lake received a hair less at 14.5″ (37cm) of snow which began very wet and slushy for the first inch covered by a solid foot of consistent drier snow on top. The temperatures up high have fallen to 18F (-8C) overnight making snow lighter in density and more apt to be transported by the current NE wind in the 30-40mph (48-64kph) range. Winds should continue to shift to the N and increase to 55mph (89kph) with lots of gusts punching toward 85mph (137kph) due to an intense pressure gradient later today. Raging conditions will peak tomorrow with winds surpassing the century mark (161kph) as they move to the NW with continued snow. When this system finally moves out out of the area it is possible for it to have left almost 2 feet (60cm) of snow in the higher elevations.

All of this weather will transform the Ravines from spring back to winter as increasing winds will create heavy density slabs over lighter snow creating weak layers near the the interface of the inverted snowpack. Heavier slabs over lighter ones translates into instability and avalanches. As the day progresses expect an increasing avalanche danger as snow instability rises with the shifting and building winds. Expect slopes and gullies facing a southern direction from the Lip back towards Lion Head including the Sluice, Right Gully, and the Lobster Claw to pick up new loading most intensely. As winds move from the NE to the NW these locales will be directly loaded as a number of others become crossloaded. With 16+” (41cm) falling already and an additional 6-10″ (15-25cm) by midnight we will sit at the “HIGH” rating in most areas for the day. The S-facing slopes are at their forecasted ratings already with other locations lagging a bit behind. Hillman’s and the Lower Snowfields will be last to reach the High rating with avalanches being “likely”, but should be there by mid-morning. It’s hard to believe the “Extreme” rating would come out this late in the year but there is a distinct possibility we may see it tomorrow depending on how the weather plays out over the next 24 hours. To boil all this down to one concept: We are likely going through a natural avalanche cycle already with instability rising over the next 24 hours. TRAVEL IN AVALANCHE TERRAIN IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

Prior to this snowfall the Ravine was dominated by springtime hazards such as CREVASSES, UNDERMINED SNOW, AND FALLING ICE. Although these still exist they are playing a far second fiddle to today’s avalanche danger. You’re likely to get buried by an avalanche before you even make it to any of the crevasses. As the snow stops flying we’ll revisit our discussion of these hazards.

There is currently no route out of the Ravine through the brook or Little Headwall. Save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the hiking trail down to Hermit Lake. The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open, expect to find thin cover and some sections fully melted out. New snow will obscure these issues. For the safety of those hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is still open.

Please Remember:
•   Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
 
•   You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
 
•   For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

 

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:10 a.m., Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine CURRENTLY has Low avalanche danger. AVALANCHE DANGER WILL BE ON THE RISE THROUGH THE DAY SO MAKE SURE YOU READ THE FULL DISCUSSION BELOW. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

A fresh inch of snow on the summit this morning is a sign of what lies in our near future. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the region but the storm’s slow-moving nature has continued to push forecasts back. It now appears that we’ll see somewhere around a foot (30cm) of snow from the event with the majority of it coming during the evening hours. With this in mind we expect avalanche danger to remain Low through the majority of the day before stability issues begin to arise in the afternoon. Up to 4″ (10cm) of new snow is expected before day’s end in the higher terrain. Currently winds are out of the E but as the snow comes in we expect to see a shift to the NE and then NW. Current speeds are around 20mph (32kph) but the Observatory’s forecast calls for an increase to 40mph (64kph) with higher gusts. As the weather changes today you can expect to see stability issues arise first as isolated pockets on southern aspects. By late in the day these pockets will merge into smaller snowfields and many forecast areas will be pushing toward Moderate avalanche danger. If we see winds at the top end of the forecasted range paired with more than a few inches of snow this bump up in ratings will take place earlier. Luckily the initial incoming snow will have high densities that will gradually decrease as temperatures drop later in the day. Additionally the new snow is falling on a surface that has a high degree of texture to it after being carved up by mountain enthusiasts during the past week. These factors help with stability but cannot completely overcome the forces when the snow really starts to pile up. As the snow continues and winds increase tomorrow I would be willing to bet most areas will have at least Considerable avalanche danger.

In addition to the increasing avalanche danger, Tuckerman Ravine has some very dangerous conditions that are complicated by today’s weather. These include CREVASSES, UNDERMINED SNOW, AND FALLING ICE. During the spring CREVASSES develop in the deep snowpack creating a hazard that is made more dangerous when obscured by low visibility or covered with a blanket of new snow. Some of these cracks are small and more of a nuisance, others are large enough to grab your ski or board and send you tumbling, and many are large enough to swallow you whole. You should hike up what you plan to come down to assess the route at a leisurely pace. The Lip and Headwall area have the greatest concentration of crevasses and I’d recommend avoiding this area altogether. UNDERMINED SNOW refers to the locations where running water has eaten away at the snow from below leaving a potentially weak bridge of snow. Typical locations for this problem include around the waterfall near the Lip, in the brook leading out of the Ravine, and in the lower part of Hillman’s Highway. It can be a problem in other areas as well, so keep a watchful eye near rocks and any area of collapsed snow. ICEFALL takes a backseat to the other hazards today but is still worthy of mention. Thousands of pounds of ice have already broken off from the walls of the ravine and fallen to the floor. This ice presents a problem for both the people who might be in the way when it falls as well as those who might ski into it while it’s parked on the ravine floor. Today’s weather makes icefall less likely but low visibility will make it difficult to see until the last minute. You can mitigate this hazard by not lingering in the runout of hanging ice, such as in Lunch Rocks. Although it’s traditionally a favorite place to hang out, it does get showered with icefall each season.

There is currently no route out of the Ravine through the brook or Little Headwall. Save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the hiking trail down to Hermit Lake. The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open, expect to find thin cover and some sections fully melted out. New snow will obscure some of the issues. For the safety of those hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is still open.

Please Remember:
•   Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
 
•   You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
 
•   For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

 

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:43 a.m., Monday, April 26, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger today. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

This time it’s really going to happen. It’s true, the forecast yesterday was almost the same as today, calling for increasing clouds in the afternoon, but yesterday they only just started to arrive by the time most people had already gone home for the day. Sunday’s weather was basically a repeat of Saturday, only with about 1500 fewer people in the Ravine to see it. Much of today might be similar, depending on how quickly the clouds move in. The afternoon hours will bring thickening and lowering clouds, and there might be some precipitation late in the day. Winds will pick up as well. What else can they do? They’ve been stuck in the single digits on the Summit since early last night. If you’re motivated to get to the Ravine early this Monday morning, you might just find quality snow conditions and nobody around to share it with. If you are in this exclusive group, let me recommend to you either Left Gully, Lobster Claw, or Right Gully for skiing in the Ravine. Hillman’s Highway is another good option, though here there is more undermined snow to watch for than in any of the aforementioned areas. Skiing and riding in the Center Bowl, Lip, and Sluice areas isn’t quite as good for a couple reasons. One is that the tops have melted out quite a bit making for shorter runs. Another reason is that these areas have a higher potential for falling ice, larger crevasses, and more undermined snow. All in all, the quality of the skiing is better and the hazards you’ll face are fewer if you stick to the right or left sides of the Ravine. If you’ve been watching the weather, you might have seen snow in the forecast for midweek. Keep watching the daily Avalanche Advisory, currently around a foot of snow is projected for Mt. Washington for Tuesday night and Wednesday. This may cause avalanche danger to rise up from the current Low rating.

In addition to the inherent risks of traveling in steep mountainous terrain, Tuckerman Ravine has some very dangerous conditions you might not be accustomed to dealing with if your skiing experience has been limited to developed areas or you haven’t spent extensive time in the mountains. These include FALLING ICE, CREVASSES, AND UNDERMINED SNOW. Ice that built up on steep cliffs throughout the winter has been melting out and falling to the ravine floor. There are still plenty of large chunks of ice left to fall, and you don’t want to be underneath them when they let go. You should be always be aware of what’s above you and have a plan in mind for what you’ll do when icefall happens. You can mitigate this hazard by not lingering in the runout of hanging ice, such as in Lunch Rocks. Although it’s traditionally a favorite place to hang out, it does get showered with icefall each season. Good locations to park yourself include any of the numerous rocks on the ravine floor that are well downhill of Lunch Rocks. CREVASSES are another hazard often not encountered in the east. The snowpack in the ravine is slowly creeping downhill, pulling away from the rock cliffs and opening up fissures in the snow. Some are small and more of a nuisance, others are large enough to grab your ski or board and send you tumbling, and many are large enough to swallow you whole. You should hike up what you plan to ski down to assess the route at a leisurely pace. Due to the number of crevasses as well as icefall potential, we do not recommend skiing or riding in the Lip or Headwall area at this point in the season. UNDERMINED SNOW refers to the locations where running water has eaten away at the snow from below leaving a potentially weak bridge of snow without support from below. Typical locations for this problem include the waterfall near the Lip, the brook leading out of the Ravine, and in the lower part of Hillman’s Highway. It can be a problem in other areas as well, particularly in the gullies near rocks and any area of collapsed snow. Being aware of the hazard and choosing a route that avoids undermining will help keep you dry and happy.

There is currently no route out of the Ravine through the brook or Little Headwall. Save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the hiking trail down to Hermit Lake. The upper third of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is still open, expect to find thin cover and some sections fully melted out. For the safety of those hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail. The Lion Head Winter Route is still open.

Please Remember:
• Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.

• You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.

• For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:52 a.m., Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger today. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Today is a fine example of how our perceptions of the forecasted weather can lead to a pleasant surprise when the day actually comes. Since Friday morning, I’ve been looking at this weekend thinking Saturday would be the nice day and Sunday would be cloudy with rain. I’d bet most of the 2000+ people on the mountain yesterday would agree that Saturday was a great day. The roughly 100 people waking up this morning at Hermit Lake are probably rolling out of their sleeping bags around now and squinting into the bright sunshine. Today’s summits forecast is different than it was a couple days ago; there is potential for today to be a very pleasant day in the Ravines. Clouds may increase in the afternoon, but temperatures will stay warm and winds will be on the lighter side. I expect snow surfaces to soften up in most areas today. This warming will certainly be an advantage for skiing, but will be BAD FOR LOOSENING LARGE AREAS OF ICE. One of the most commonly asked questions yesterday was “what’s good?” The answer stays the same for today: Right Gully, Lobster Claw, Left Gully, and Hillman’s are the best bets. These areas have the best top to bottom snow coverage and the least hazard of falling ice and crevasses.

ICEFALL WILL REMAIN THE NUMBER ONE HAZARD OF CONCERN TODAY. Friday afternoon one of the largest chunks of worrisome ice fell into Lunch Rocks, but significant amounts of ice still hang in the Sluice and in the Headwall area. All of this ice will fall at some point this season, and although it’s often unpredictable our experience working here tells us that warm sunny days like yesterday and today increase the odds of it falling. Humans and icefall don’t mix! Your best strategy is to avoid spending time underneath hanging ice. Two good ways to implement this are first to stay well away from Lunch Rocks and second to stay well away from Lunch Rocks. If you do decide to sit in this shooting gallery you need to be very vigilant to watch for icefall and plant yourself on the downhill side of a very large rock for protection.

There are many existing CREVASSES around the mountain and they are growing in number as well as in size. The most prominent locations where crevasses are likely to be encountered are in the Lip and in the Headwall below the cliffs and ice. The Lip area has crevasses that encroach from both sides and icefall problems making it a poor choice for travel. Due to melting and UNDERMINING, there is no longer a skiable route out of the Ravine. Yesterday we watched from Hermit Lake as people attempted to find their way out through this area. Let’s just say numerous people were tossing their skis over cliffs and doing their best to downclimb gracefully. You should plan to take off your skis or board and walk down to Hermit Lake where you can rejoin the Sherburne for the trip downhill. Other areas, such as Hillman’s Highway, also have undermined snow. Use caution around rocks, holes and sagging areas of snow. And lastly, lots of rocks have begun to melt out from the lower and middle sections of popular runs and there are numerous pieces of ice littering the floor of the Ravine. Take a good look at what will be in your runout before dropping into any line.

The Lion Head Winter Route is open. The upper half of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is open with big bumps, some exposed rocks and bare sections, and a couple hundred yards of walking before you get to the rope. The bottom half is closed so cross over to the hiking trail when you come to the rope. To stay out of the mud and help prevent erosion please do not walk on the closed ski trail. For the safety of those hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail.

Please Remember:
• Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.

• You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.

• For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:17 a.m., Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger today. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Yesterday’s threatening gray clouds didn’t scare aware skiers and riders as hundreds of visitors put their edges into the Ravine. Friday afternoon the sun became more of a fixture as clouds began blowing out late in the day. This continued through the evening delivering a stunning Saturday morning of full sunshine warming the lower mountain quickly. Temperatures in the valley will be flirting with the 70F (21C) degree mark while the summit of Washington will remain quite cooler. Temperatures will rise in the higher terrain to about 35F (2C) until clouds move back in this afternoon possibly delivering a shower of rain to the terrain. Winds should peak around 40mph (65kph) this morning, go through a midday lull, and then rise again as the low pressure trough approaches. For as long as the sun persists I believe the solar bowl effect of Tuckerman will cause temperatures to rise quickly for a good chunk of the day. South facing slopes such as Right Gully and the Lobster Claw will soften up first from the overnight freeze with shaded aspects lagging behind. This warming will certainly be an advantage for skiing, but will be BAD FOR LOOSENING LARGE AREAS OF ICE.

ICEFALL WILL BE THE NUMBER ONE HAZARD OF CONCERN TODAY. Yesterday afternoon around 4:30 the majority of the left Sluice ice fell into Lunch Rocks and slammed its way through the talus. If this happened an hour or two earlier a very bad scenario would of unfolded with the amount of people that were in the Ravine. This particular piece of ice is always a big worry for us. It’s good that most of it fell without causing harm, but a bit more remains on the Sluice-left, some on the Sluice-right, and a lot more on the main Headwall. The ice that fell was the size of a small bus and historically pieces this large break apart sending TV-Refrigerator sized chunks in all directions. Humans and icefall don’t mix well! Staying well away from these areas and skiing in either Left or Right Gully will substantially reduce your risk.

For all these reasons I would stay well away from Lunch Rocks. If you do decide to sit in this shooting gallery you need to be very vigilant to watch for icefall and plant yourself on the downhill side of a very large rock for protection.

There are many existing CREVASSES around the mountain and they are growing in number as well as in size. The most prominent locations where crevasses are likely to be encountered are in the Lip and in the Headwall below the cliffs and ice. The Lip area has crevasses that encroach from both sides and icefall problems making it a poor choice for travel. Due to melting and UNDERMINING, there is no longer a skiable route out of the Ravine. Plan to take off your skis or board and walk down to Hermit Lake where you can rejoin the Sherburne for the trip downhill. Other areas, such as Hillman’s Highway, also have undermined snow but recent snow has obscured some of the open holes. Use caution around rocks, holes and sagging areas of snow. And lastly, lots of rocks have begun to melt out from the lower and middle sections of popular runs and there are numerous pieces of ice littering the floor of the Ravine. Take a good look at what will be in your runout before dropping into any line.

The Lion Head Winter Route is open. The upper half of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is open with big bumps, some exposed rocks and bare spots, and a couple hundred yards of walking before you get to the rope. The bottom half is closed so cross over to the hiking trail when you come to the rope. To stay out of the mud and help prevent erosion please do not walk on the closed ski trail. For the safety of those hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:42 a.m., Friday, April 23, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger today.
Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

After a shockingly quick start to springtime meltout earlier in the season, the Ravine seems to have settled into a more normal April weather regime. The rate of deterioration has slowed a lot since the start of the spring season, and we’ve even gotten a little bit of snow here and there to help keep things fresh. Last night another 1.6” of snow fell on the summit, but you would hardly know it by just looking around Hermit Lake. It is currently snowing lightly with at most another half inch expected before the clearing trend pushes it out. Even with winds forecasted to increase to 35-50mph from the NNW, I don’t expect these amounts to affect snow stability in a widespread manner; however, you should be aware of the potential for isolated pockets of unstable snow to develop. The increasing wind speeds and new snow will be competing against solar gain and increasing daytime temperatures to determine whether or not this actually happens. The most likely places to see isolated pockets would be in the upper reaches of the start zones on S- and E-facing slopes. In heavily-traveled locations, the new snow will be falling on a rough and heavily textured bed surface, which will help the adhesion between new and old snow. In the afternoon the clouds should clear out some, and I would expect temperatures in the Ravine to rise above the freezing mark. As this happens there is also a chance that the upslope snow showers will change over into upslope rain showers. Whether it’s due to warm temperatures, a little bit of rain, or a pair of skis cutting through it, any new pockets that might have been able to develop could release. I’d expect these to be on the small side, but it doesn’t take a lot of wet snow sliding downhill to knock you off your feet.

There are many existing crevasses around the mountain and they are growing in number as well as in size. The most prominent locations where crevasses are likely to be encountered are in the Lip and in the Headwall below the cliffs and ice. The Lip area has crevasses that encroach from both sides making it a poor choice for travel. Icefall potential will continue to rise today and you should be aware that there are still significant amounts of ice around the Ravine, with the largest being in the Sluice and Headwall. For this reason I would stay well away from Lunch Rocks. If you do decide to sit in this shooting gallery you need to be very vigilant to watch for icefall and plant yourself on the downhill side of a very large rock for protection. Have a plan in mind for when icefall does occur. Due to melting and undermining, there is no longer a skiable route out of the Ravine. Plan to take off your skis or board and walk down to Hermit Lake where you can rejoin the Sherburne for the trip downhill. Other areas, such as Hillman’s Highway, also have undermined snow but recent snow has obscured some of the open holes. Use caution around rocks, holes and sagging areas of snow. And lastly, lots of rocks have begun to melt out from the lower and middle sections of popular runs and there are numerous pieces of ice littering the floor of the Ravine. Take a good look at what will be in your runout before dropping into any line.

High pressure ridging in today will linger through Saturday before some more wet weather takes us from Sunday into the early part of the workweek. We’ll post a Weekend Update this afternoon to help out with your weekend planning.

The Lion Head Winter Route is open. The upper half of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is open with big bumps, some exposed rocks and bare spots, and a couple hundred yards of walking before you get to the rope. The bottom half is closed so cross over to the hiking trail when you come to the rope. To stay out of the mud and help prevent erosion please do not walk on the closed ski trail. For the safety of those hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine trail from Pinkham do not ski on the hiking trail.

Please Remember:
• Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.

• You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.

• For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

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