General Bulletin for Saturday, April 23, 2016

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

Intermittent fog will limit visibility Saturday morning making it difficult to recognize Ravine hazards, particularly falling ice until clouds move out.  A lot of enormous ice has fallen over the past couple of days and we are currently right in the middle of the notorious icefall season. With sun beginning to dominate through the day snow may remain soft, but temperatures will drop to 20F creating hard conditions, especially in the shade as the sun dips below the ridge.  Watch this timing carefully! Winds will increase to hurricane force by sunset making it pretty cold and hard by the end of the day.  Saturday night winds will remain high as temperatures fall close to 10F early Sunday morning, making for a brisk firm start to the day. Sun will rule on Sunday, but temperatures will struggle to get above 20F on the summit. Several other points you need to be aware of are:

  • FALLING ICE IS CURRENTLY THE #1 OBJECTIVE HAZARD IN TUCKERMAN. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by falling ice in Tuckerman. The most hazardous locations are in the center and right side of the ravine, including Lunch Rocks, the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl. Warm weather and rain increase the potential for icefall to occur. There is still a tremendous amount of ice waiting to fall. Avoid spending time in high risk areas such as under the Headwall or at Lunch Rocks, more aptly known as “Icefall Rocks”.
  • UNDERMINED SNOW, HOLES and CREVASSES. Collectively these are growing larger in many locations; the most dangerous in the Center Bowl over to the Lip on the lookers right side of the Ravine. Breaking through weak snow into one of has been the cause of numerous past fatalities. Generally, climbing up what you plan to descend will allow you to see most of these hazards for your descent and realize there may be large open spaces under the surface near these holes.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS. Temperatures often fall below freezing even late into spring. Additionally, age hardening can create very dense alpine ice that remains very slick even on warmer days. Snow surfaces become very hard and icy, making a slip, trip, or fall a very serious situation. Good terrain choices, as well as proper equipment such as an ice axe and crampons, are your best defense.
  • A SECTION OF THE TUCKERMAN RAVINE TRAIL IS NOW CLOSED TO ALL USE. This section extends from Lunch Rocks at the floor of the Ravine to the top of the Headwall where it meets the Alpine Garden Trail.  Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of the crevasses and undermining, and the severe consequences of a fall in this area. This includes no skiing or riding through the Lip area.  (ATTENTION AUX RANDONNEURS! Une section du sentier du Tuckerman Ravine est présentement fermé à toutes les activités.  Cette section est située entre Lunch Rocks et le sommet du Headwall jusqu’où ce dernier rejoint le sentier du Alpine Garden. Cette fermeture inclut également toute activité de descente dans le secteur du Lip. Seulement cette section du sentier est fermé. Cette fermeture annuelle est due à l’ampleur des crevasses et à la gravité qu’occasionnerait une chute dans ce secteur.)
  • Areas immediately adjacent to and under the closed Lip area have all of the hazards in the list above so travel in this area is not recommended and should be avoided.   This terrain is “no fall terrain.” The consequences of a slip or fall here could lead to the worst possible outcome.

***THE BOTTOM LINE: The southern side of the Ravine, or lookers left, has dramatically lower objective hazards and risk than the north or right side. Therefore, we recommend the left side over traveling in the center and right side of the Ravine. Left Gully is the longest run and is still connected to the Bowl proper while the Chute offers steeper and more challenging terrain. Although they hold a level of overall general hazard they offer options with lower risk than many other Ravine alternatives. The Sherburne Ski Trail is now closed to all use so hike down the Tuck trail to Pinkham Notch.

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.
  • 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 8:30a.m., Saturday, April 23, 2016. A new bulletin will be issued when warranted.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2716

2016-04-23 general