Early Winter Information for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines- December 11, 2015

This is an updated early winter informational statement.  A “General Bulletin” or a “5 Scale Avalanche Advisory” will be used when conditions warrant.  This early season posting is to communicate that some initial winter hazards on Mount Washington are beginning to grow requiring some risk assessment and thought on your part.  We’ll monitor conditions closely and will start off with a General Bulletin when the likelihood and consequence of avalanches increase.

It’s still pretty slow out there as far as snow and ice accumulations goes for climbing and skiing enthusiasts. November was about 200% below normal in total precipitation. December is proving not much better so far with only 1.85″ of total water of the 7.73″ average for December’s running 30 year norm. The more dramatic figures are related to temperatures.  As you are fully aware it’s been a warm start to winter.  So ice keeps coming in and then diminishing with alpine warm ups.  This weekend will see above freezing temperatures around the clock at the Ravine elevations, so once again we’ll be in losing mode. (AKA-Falling Ice)

Consider these important reminders in your evaluations:

  • Expect continued icefall hazards due to mild temperatures as well as weak detached ice if considering ice climbing.  Be cautious when moving through or travelling below locations harboring ice.
  • Although very effective for general low elevation walking remember “microspikes” are not crampons.  During the early season we carry both as each have their place, know the limitations of each.
  • As we progress towards the solstice daylight is waning.  A headlamp could become your best friend in the event of an injury or a longer than expected day. Carry two.
  • Be sure to check current weather forecasts at the Mount Washington Observatory website, posted at the Pinkham and Crawford Notch Visitors Centers as well as at the Harvard Cabin and Hermit Lake Shelters in Tuckerman Ravine.
  • Avalanche hazards can grow quickly now that we have some small bed surfaces beginning to develop.  Expect a handful of micro/nano sized bed surfaces to accept the loading of new snow. Although not enough to justify an avalanche “Bulletin” or “Advisory”, be prepared for some extremely isolated areas of instability with future snowfalls.  Be sure to check back for updated information as winter continues to take hold up here.
  • Check for updates at www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org, on instagram @mwacenter, on facebook, and twitter @Avalanchecenter

*For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.

*Posted on Friday December 11, 2015. A new posting will be issued when conditions warrant.

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