Early winter-like conditions on Mt. Washington, 2016-10-30

The recent snowfall on the summit last weekend created an opportunity for some hard-charging skiers to make some turns in Left Gully on Saturday morning. Lots of rocks and bushes no doubt provided the expert skiers some entertainment but they found fresh snow. Rain moved in shortly after their run but the snow and ice is lingering as seen in the photos below, taken Sunday morning by Sarah, the Hermit Lake caretaker. Warm temperatures are returning to the Rockpile midweek and may send recently formed ice tumbling down steep cliffs and slopes in each east side Ravine so be heads up. Any of the near and above treeline trails in the Presidential range are sure to have every type of slippery obstacle this shoulder season can produce, so consider micro-spikes and crampons and be on the lookout for ice underfoot. The Huntington Ravine Trail and, to a lesser but still very serious extent, Tuckerman Ravine trail are becoming alpine climbing routes so plan accordingly if you attempt them. They are not really hiking trails anymore and have significant exposure to long falls.

This time of year can see big changes in climbing, hiking and ski conditions so meet each day on its own terms. The Observatory Higher Summits forecast and other weather products can be a great tool for bringing the right clothes but consider looking at hourly conditions to note trends and recorded precipitation types and totals.


Headwall area with loads of ice with varying degrees of holding power. No doubt the cliff will shed some ice this week.

Headwall area with loads of ice with varying degrees of holding power. No doubt the cliff will shed some ice this week.


The snowfield in the upper section of Left Gully is one place you could expect to find an avalanche.


If you haven’t looked at your beacon, probe and shovel yet this season, now would be a good time to do it. Corrosion on the battery terminals from neglected batteries, software updates, bent ferrules on your probe, and bent or hard to operate shovel handles are much easier to deal with now than the day before back to back snowstorms. And if you get out in the early season, remember all the lurking rocks can do serious to damage to you as well as your boards. The melt freeze cycle this week will no doubt make for firm snow and depending on how warm we get, it is likely that we will continue to have some sliding surfaces for the next snowfall to land on. Small avalanches can still cause some harm on steep slopes with rocks and cliffs beneath so remember the old adage, if it is big enough to play on, it’s big enough to avalanche.

Speaking of avalanches, if you have signed up for the 6th Annual Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop. There are student discounts available, just use STUDENT 40 at the checkout to get in for $40. See ya there! -FC

Buy tickets for Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop


Friday, November 4 – International Mountain Equipment

 5:00 – 7:30pm    ESAW 2016 Kickoff and Friends of the Mount Washington Avalanche Center fundraiser and social event at International Mountain Equipment, North Conway– Registration and Door Raffle-refreshments

Saturday, November 5 – Leura Hill Eastman Performing Art Center, Fryeburg Academy

 7:30 – 8:15    Registration

8:15 – 8:30     Welcome, Introduction, & Housekeeping

Morning Session 1

8:30 – 9:15    Avalanche Danger Scales and How Forecaster’s Use them.
Simon Trautman- NAC-National Avalanche Scientist
9:15 – 9:55     Backcountry Skiing on Public Lands- The Creation of Legitimate and Sustainable Glades.
Helon Hoffer and Granite Backcountry Alliance’s Tyler Ray. White Mountain and Green Mountain National Forests

9:55 – 10:15 Break & Raffle

Morning Session 2

10:15 – 11:00    Personal Reflections-Making sense of our own close calls in avalanche terrain.
Jaime Musnicki, American Avalanche Association, Executive Director
11:00 – 11:30    Risk, Rewards, and the Balancing of Mountain Experiences and Goals.
Jon Miller, Doggy Down Films
11:30 – 12:00    Dallas Glass-AIARE

12:00 – 1:15 Lunch & Raffle

Afternoon Session 1- Panel Discussion

1:15 – 2:15    Avalanche Education in the United States- Where are we and where are we going.
Round Table Moderator—Frank Carus, Mount Washington Avalanche Center
Participants— Jaime Musnicki, Jeff Lane, Simon Trautman, Dallas Glass
2:15 – 2:30           American Avalanche Association- Recreation and Professional Education Tracks.
Jaime Musnicki, American Avalanche Association, Executive Director

2:30 – 2:50 Break & Raffle

Afternoon Session 2

2:50 – 3:30    Forecasting Avalanche Danger in Inherently Dangerous Terrain.
Frank Carus- Mount Washington Avalanche Center
3:30 – 3:50    National Avalanche Center- What are we doing now?
Simon Trautman- NAC-National Avalanche Scientist
3:50 – 4:30    Reflecting on a Life with Avalanches and Keeping People on Top.
Christopher Joosen, Mount Washington Avalanche Center-Emeritus

4:30 – 6:30    Post-ESAW Social and Avalanche Vendor Booths

6:30 – ?   More social time, Dueling Chefs Bar-B-Q food truck, beverages, darts and pingpong at Saco River Brewing Company. 10 Jockey Cap Lane, Fryeburg, Maine. (across from Jockey Cap and Dollar General)