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