General Advisory for Saturday, 5-12-2011

A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. Unless updated this advisory expires at 12:00 midnight Sunday, May 13, 2012.

This is a late-season General Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain under a general advisory. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. A general advisory will be in effect until complete melt out later this spring/summer.

Rain, snow, and fog one day…clear, sunny, and warm the next. Yes, the month of May is clearly one of change. And, on Mt. Washington, the weather and snow conditions can change rapidly and frequently during this inconstant month. It’s been a wet rainy week in the ravines, with a small amount of wet snow falling on Thursday night. Overall conditions are continuing to deteriorate, but there is still skiable snow in a small handful of areas. Left Gully is one such location; it has the longest continuous snow at this time. The usual late season hazards are currently very prominent in the ravine. Be aware of these, and take appropriate measures to keep yourself safe. The most common springtime hazards include:

  • Crevasses. These have grown very large many numerous locations. Give them plenty of room, since they are often much larger beneath the surface than what you can see from above. Snow bridges at the edges of crevasses and over other undermined areas are also going to be weak, so there is potential for falling through into a hole.
  • Falling ice and rock. This hazard has seriously injured and killed many people over the years. You will want to always be alert to what is above you, and have a plan in mind for what you’ll do if and when something falls from above. The greatest ice hazard is currently from the center and left side of the Headwall.
  • Long sliding falls. The month of May often brings warm days and cold nights, which can change the surface conditions of the snow very quickly from soft to icy hard. At this point in the season, there are no steep snow surfaces without obstacles in the fall line. Sliding into rocks, ice chunks, trees, crevasses, etc. all are common mechanisms of injury.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail, where it climbs through the ravine, is closed to all use. The closed area spans from Lunch Rocks to the junction of the Alpine Garden Trail, and includes the Lip area. Only this section of trail is closed. The trail is open from Pinkham Notch to the floor of the ravine, and from the summit down to the Alpine Garden Trail. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. Use an alternate route to circumvent this closed section, such as the commonly used Lion Head trail. The John Sherburne Ski trail is also closed to all use.

Please remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretaker at Hermit Lake Shelters.

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

2012-05-12 print friendly