General Advisory for 5-8-2012

A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. Unless updated this advisory expires at 12:00 midnight Thursday, May 10, 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.

Overall conditions in Tuckerman Ravine are deteriorating, and the rain falling today and through the rest of the week certainly won’t help preserve what’s left. The snowpack that remains has settled out and is quite stable; however, late season snow may still create new stability problems where it falls onto larger snowfields. In addition to any new snow that falls, heavy rains may overload drainage channels, blow out running water from beneath the snow, and cause a wet snow avalanche. The weather for this week is not looking pretty. Rain and fog can be expected throughout the next few days. These conditions will make the springtime hazards worse, and the low visibility may prevent you from getting a good look at the hazard potential. The most prominent spring 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.

A section of Tuckerman Ravine Trail 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. 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