General Advisory for Wednesday 5-16-2012

A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrent or within 72 hours.  Unless updated this advisory expires at midnight Friday, 5-18-2012.

 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.

Wednesday should be the last day of wet weather this week, but it will likely be the most severe.  Showers and some thunder can be expected particularly in the afternoon.  As the cold front approaches later on Wednesday some hail, heavy bursts of rain and some lightning is possible.  A clearing trend with sunny skies will then commence on Thursday and through the weekend.  Overall snow conditions continue to deteriorate, but there is still some skiable snow in a small handful of areas. Left Gully is one such location; it has the longest continuous snowfield at this time. The lower Sluice area is another option. 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.

*Undermined Snow. In location 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 consequences here 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 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 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, Snow Ranger USDA Forest Service White Mountain National Forest

5-16-2012 Print Version