Early Winter Information – January 3, 2016

This is an updated early winter informational statement. We’ll continue to monitor conditions closely and will issue a General Bulletin or Avalanche Advisory when the likelihood and consequence of avalanches increase.

Winter continues to spool up and the mountains are becoming whiter and colder everyday. Since the storm that blanketed the region on Tuesday we have seen an additional 7.4″ of snow over the past few days. This daily precipitation over Thursday, Friday and Saturday on a high W wind has brought accumulated snow into the dominate lee into the Ravines. Expect small pockets to grow, creating bed surfaces that are creeping along in size, getting us closer to a General Bulletin. Although small and very isolated, you may find a small pocket or two on your climbing route requiring some risk assessment and thought on your part. With this said, we were starting from scratch as of last Monday with mostly a brown mountain. Additional upslope snow today (Sunday 1/3) will be ushered out by clearing conditions and an arctic air mass by tomorrow. By Monday night we should see -10F on the higher summits, a rude awakening for sure! There will be no melting for awhile as we enter gaining mode in the White Mountains for both ice and snow coverage.

Please consider the following as you plan your trip:

  • Hiking trails through steep terrain (e.g. Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine trails) may be covered in ice and snow. Mountaineering skills and equipment are required for safe travel on these routes. Microspikes are not a substitute for real crampons in steep icy terrain.
  • The Lion Head Summer Trail is still open, and the Winter Route is closed due to lack of snow. The Summer Trail does have a lot of water ice on it, making crampons or other traction devices a smart choice.
  • Ice climbing routes are still developing. Expect some difficulty to protect routes well in the Huntington’s gullies and areas of the Tuckerman Headwall.
  • Check summit weather forecasts before heading out. You can find the MWObs summit forecast here or the National Weather Service summits forecast here.
  • Avalanche hazards can exist in very small areas. Expect a handful of micro/nano sized bed surfaces to accept the loading of new snow. Although not enough to justify an avalanche General Bulletin or Avalanche 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.

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.

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

2016-01-03 Information Posting