Avalanche Advisory

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 in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

After a stretch of very busy days with sunny summer-like weather, Mt. Washington has begun to fall under the shadow of lowering clouds. This is the result of a warm front heading our way, which will bring with it some winds on the front end and precipitation beginning this afternoon. Summit temperatures are currently below freezing so there is a chance it will start as a mix of snow, ice, and rain but it will transition to all rain. If this information puts you into a bad mood, try thinking of the positive side of things. For example, we’re forecasted to get well under a half inch of water equivalent by tomorrow morning. Compare this to the 3.5″ that fell early last week. It’s kind of like finding a marshmallow bunny that’s been hiding under your couch since the weekend–you’re not really sure why you should be happy about it, but you smile and eat it anyway. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the weather forecasts to indicate a return of sunny weather any time soon.

Today, as well as through the week, springtime hazards will continue to blossom. These have grown substantially in the past week, with conditions changing dramatically from day to day. Icefall has been a huge concern and will continue over the next few days as warm temps and incoming rain help send large chunks of ice to the floor of the Bowl. A tremendous amount of ice still hangs in the Sluice as well as in the Center Headwall, so don’t linger below this looming hazard. At this point in the season Lunch Rocks is the most likely place to get hurt or killed by falling ice. Crevasses have also begun to emerge and you’ll need to keep a watchful eye for them as you hike up your intended line of descent. The Lip and Headwall area have the greatest number of cracks opening up. What you see on the surface is often much smaller than the opening underneath the snow, so give them plenty of space and travel carefully around the edges to avoid punching through.Undermined snow increased dramatically over the past week as temps stayed above freezing for a full week before they finally dipped below freezing. Huge volumes of water coursed below the snowpack creating issues in a number of areas. Trying to ski/ride from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is now akin to gambling with your life. Large sections of snow have been collapsing into the river. On Saturday one lucky skier went for a cold swim and was able to be pulled out by another person, and this was just trying to walk back through the woods to Hermit Lake. Do yourself a favor and walk down to Hermit Lake when leaving the Bowl. There are still plenty of turns to be had on the mountain but visitors need to be on high alert for the springtime hazards that have killed and injured many people over the years. When choosing your lines or your resting spots make sure you assess which hazards you face and develop a plan for dealing appropriately.

The Lion Head Winter Route is open as is most of the John Sherburne Ski Trail. The bottom section of the trail is now closed and you’ll need to watch for bare spots throughout the remainder. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail at the rope to keep out of the mud and protect the trail from erosion. The Harvard Cabin is closed for the season leaving Hermit Lake Shelters as the only camping option on the east side of Mt Washington.

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

This is the Official Tuckerman Ravine website.  Occasionally the remoteness of Tuckerman Ravine, weather, or communication problems prevent the website from being updated immediately.  Check the date, and if it is not the most recent, you can also call the National Forest Service’s 24 hour avalanche hotline at (603) 466-2713 (ext. 4)

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Tuckerman Ravine and Huntington Ravine have 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 only exception to this is the Little Headwall which has Moderate avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible. Use caution in steep terrain.

Well any other day I’d say I’d be excited by what I’m seeing here at Hermit Lake. There is about 4″ of dense snow on the ground with some deeper drifts and it is currently snowing pretty hard. I’ll take all the snow we can get pretty much any day, but the unfortunate side of this weather event is what’s to come later. Warm air will slowly infiltrate the upper elevations bringing with it a change from snow to mixed precipitation and then rain later. It’s already climbed to 26F (-3C) at the summit and is just above freezing here. The avalanche danger today is going to steadily rise through the day in both ravines. As precipitation changes over to mixed and rain, it will enter the realm of “High.” However, it’s important to remember that the danger will pass through “Considerable” earlier in the day with natural avalanches being possible even prior to any rain. Ultimately, travel in avalanche terrain today is not recommended.

If, after reading the paragraph above, your plans still include heading into either ravine, I’d suggest going back and re-reading the first two paragraphs and asking yourself if spending a wet day with High avalanche danger is really the what you want to do. With heavy rain in the forecast for the next few days, I’m personally planning some quality indoor activities to keep busy. This storm system is a potent one, with up to an inch of water equivalent by midnight tonight and the potential for up to 4″ (10cm) of water equivalent by the time it’s all over late Wednesday. As far as the potential for avalanches goes, two things are in my mind for today. First is the new snow which is falling with forecasted winds to be S shifting W at 50-70mph (80-113kph) early in the day. This would be enough to create instabilities even if the forecast wasn’t for snow changing to rain. The second issue is the older slabs that existed primarily in Tuckerman Ravine and are sitting on top of the rain crust from about a week ago. Dumping rain on these slabs would also increase the avalanche danger. Putting both of these issues together and thinking about what effect the rain will have brings me to my belief that natural avalanches will be taking place today in most areas by the end of today. Some of these will be wet slabs and others may be wet loose snow avalanches, but regardless, I wouldn’t want to be hit with either type.

The warm wet weather over the next few days followed by clear, sunny, and warm weather will do some significant damage to the snow cover across the mountain over the week to come. I would expect the Little Headwall, which already has some open water holes, and the brook leading out of the Ravine to become dangerously undermined by meltwater. Also expect icefall and rockfall hazard to increase as free water melts the bonds between the ice and rocks allowing them to succumb to their natural gravitational urges. Finally, travel off the beaten path may become a nightmare of soggy postholes. Due to the posthole factor it’s probably not a good week to try sledding the Sherburne Ski Trail or bushwacking down the Great Gulf; you’re much better off with flotation on your feet or sticking to well-traveled routes.

The Lion Head Winter Route is open. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is skiable all the way to Pinkham Notch.

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, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters or the HMC caretaker at the Harvard Cabin. 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

Skier Fall – Sluice

The victim was up in the Sluice preparing to ski. He lost his footing and tumbled down the gully. Victim suffered a fractured ankle. After injuries were assessed and the ankle splinted, members of the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, USFS Snow Rangers, AMC staff and other skiers commenced his evacuation from Tuckerman Ravine. The litter was lowered on belay the last pitch on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail into Hermit lake. Victim was loaded onto the USFS Snowcat to Pinkham Notch. The rescue took about 3 hours and required 20 people.