This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight, Sunday, May 4, 2014.
Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines are under a late season General Avalanche Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain. General Advisories are valid for no more than three days, but may be updated earlier as conditions warrant.
Unsettled weather continues to challenge the 9-5 working stiff who can’t seem to get a break lately with good weekend weather. The weak disturbances we are expecting through Sunday may not translate into much precipitation but before you plan a trip to the mountains, be sure to carefully check your favorite weather forecasting resources and be prepared to encounter any weather and precipitation type, including the frozen variety. Many of the hazards listed below can become more dangerous with weather changes so keep a close eye on these factors and consider the role that elevation gain and aspect changes have on temperatures, precipitation type, and the softness, or iciness, of the snow surface. Since temperatures on the summit will be near freezing at times over the weekend, be prepared to evaluate conditions after some new snow has blanketed crevasses or even formed some small storm or wind slabs, especially on Sunday. Freezing rain would make a summit hike particularly challenging.
FALLING ICE can kill people. The largest ice looms in the Sluice above Lunch Rocks, in the Center Bowl of Tuckerman, and throughout much of Huntington. Other areas pose this threat as well, though to a lesser extent. The best advice we can give is to not spend time underneath areas where ice may fall. Large rocks may provide some cover, but in the past, they have proven themselves to be inadequate shields for people hiding behind them. Lunch Rocks is a hazardous location when icefall is a possibility!
CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES are another potentially lethal hazard. Each season these form in many areas, the worst are in the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl. Many of these holes follow stream courses under the snowpack with icy water spraying around.
UNDERMINED SNOW is related to the hazard above. It occurs when streams have eroded away the snowpack from below, but left behind a bridge of snow. This bridge can collapse without warning under your weight, bringing you into the icy stream below. Give wide berth to areas that have already collapsed or show signs of sagging or cracking.
LONG SLIDING FALLS are probably the #1 cause of injury each spring. Cold temperatures cause the soft corn snow to refreeze into a slick and solid mass of ice. We always recommend an ice axe and crampons for travel in steep terrain. You may not need them always, but if the unexpected happens these tools, and the ability to use them effectively, can save you from serious injury or death.
The Lion Head Winter Route is still open. The bottom half of the John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed. Please cross over to the hiking trail at the closure rope and hike the rest of the way down to Pinkham.
- 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 caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
- Posted 6:45 am a.m. May 2, 2014. A new advisory will be issued by Monday, May 5.
Frank Carus, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856