General Advisory for Saturday 5-19-2012

A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours.  Unless updated this advisory expires at midnight Monday, 5-21-2012.

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.

A sunny weekend is forecasted for the region which should make most mountain activities quite enjoyable.  Being a vacation weekend for our neighbors to the north, we expect many travelers in the alpine zone on Saturday and Sunday.  Although the weather may tempt you to carry a fairly light pack, be prepared for the unexpected with the needed gear for a safe mountain day.  Overall, snow conditions continue to deteriorate, but there is still some skiable snow in a few areas. Left Gully is one such location; it has the longest continuous snowfield at this time, but expect to do some bush-whacking. The lower Sluice area is another option. The usual late season hazards are prominent in the ravine. Be aware of these, and take appropriate measures to keep yourself safe.  The most common springtime hazards include:

*Crevasses. Since crevasses are often much larger beneath the surface than what you can see from above give them plenty of room. 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.

*Undermined Snow. In locations where water runs underneath the snow, the surface snow may be thinner than you’d expect, and more likely to collapse under your weight.  The flats of the Ravine floor and up towards Lunch Rocks are a good example of this.  As you transition to the snow from the trail, watch for numerous thin areas and holes.  The consequences of undermining around the Ravine range from minor, such as a wet foot to more severe injuries or worse if you plunge through in the wrong location.

*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 main icefall issues can be found 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. Even on warm days age hardening can make random locations very firm.  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 the 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 and the severity of consequences should you fall. The Lion Head Trail is one alternative route to the summit.

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.

Christopher Joosen USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

2012-05-19 Print Version