This is an early winter informational statement. A “General Avalanche Information Bulletin” or a “5 Scale Avalanche Forecast” will be used when conditions warrant. The purpose of this statement is to communicate that some early winter hazards in the Presidential Range are beginning to increase, requiring additional risk assessment as we transition into winter. We’ll continue to monitor conditions closely and will start off with a General Bulletin when the likelihood and consequence of avalanches increase.
So far, winter in the White Mountains has struggled to take hold. Just over 12 inches of snow (2.64” SWE) has fallen at upper elevations this month, but warm, above freezing days continue to melt back any accumulations of snow. Don’t put those mountain bikes away yet. Looking ahead, the weather pattern suggests cooler temperatures which may be more productive for building early season ice and snowpack development.
Consider these important reminders in your decision making:
- Be prepared for winter weather and challenging trail conditions as new snow hides loose rock, patches of ice and barely covered vegetation all intent on spraining a knee or ankle.
- As we progress towards the solstice, daylight is waning. A headlamp with extra batteries could become your best friend in the event of an injury or a longer than expected day.
- Be sure to check current weather forecasts at the Mount Washington Observatory website.
- Warm days with cold nights have created icy trails so remember to bring your microspikes, and know that the Tuckerman Ravine trail through the ravine will be increasingly dangerous as ice grows across the trail above the Headwall. Unless you are armed for mountaineering with crampons, consider the summer Lion Head Trail a safer alternative. During the early season we carry both microspikes and crampons as each has their place, know the limitations of each.
- Avalanche hazards can grow quickly once bed surfaces develop. As snowfields begin to grow with incoming snow and wind, remember that even small avalanches can hurt, bury or kill you, particularly if you get pushed into exposed rocks, a terrain trap or off of a cliff.
- Although not enough to justify an avalanche “Bulletin” or “Forecast”, be prepared for some extremely isolated areas of snowpack instability with future snowfalls. Be sure to check back for updated information as winter continues to take hold.
If you venture out please take a moment and submit an observation. Even a terrain photo with a short caption is very helpful, especially in the early season.