General Bulletin for Monday, May 15, 2017

This bulletin will expire at midnight on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

On Sunday, 12” of new snow fell at Hermit Lake, with 4-6” more falling today. New snow, increasing winds and warming temperatures will create the potential for natural avalanches in many areas in Tuckerman Ravine. This includes the summer Lion Head Trail between Hermit Lake and treeline. The Lion Head Winter route is once again the safer route to the summit. Though significant melting has occurred since winter, there are ample bed surfaces remaining on the east side of Mount Washington that will allow avalanches large enough to bury and kill a person to occur. Today, wind from the North around 60 mph will load slopes with a south facing aspect and cross-load easterly aspects with wind slabs. As temperatures warm today and into Tuesday, precipitation will transition to freezing rain and then rain which will stress these wind slabs, making them more sensitive to human triggering and increasing the chance of natural wet slab avalanches.

Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. Please use the Winter Lion Head Route if going to the summit from Pinkham. In addition to the avalanche hazard, new and wind blown snow will conceal the numerous and large crevasses and moats that across the steep terrain. Realize that the following hazards are still in play if you are headed up this week:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Meltwater running under the snow creates hollow spaces potentially bridged by thin snow that can easily break under the weight of a person. In places, this might mean a wet foot or a minor fall, while larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water, look for small holes in the snow surface, and consider that many relatively low areas like our gullies drain meltwater and can hold such a hazard.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS) AND WATERFALL HOLES: Many of these large, deep cracks have formed and continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. Give these plenty of space. These cracks are often wider than they appear or bridged by thin snow. A fall into one could be fatal.

The Little Headwall is no longer passable and descending from the Bowl should be done via the hiking trail. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is skiable again below Hermit Lake. Snow coverage of a foot or more at Hermit Lake tapers to nothing at Pinkham Notch. Please use a crossover and hike down to Tuckerman Ravine Trail when the snow runs out.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin 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.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 8:00 am on Saturday, May 13, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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