General Bulletin for Sunday, May 1, 2016

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. A new General Bulletin will be issued within 72 hours or when conditions warrant. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine. Remember that avalanche activity may occur under a General Bulletin so always make your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain.

Temperatures remained above freezing Saturday night at Ravine elevations. Rain will begin to fall later Sunday morning at all elevations with a transition to snow in the afternoon above the freeze line, which is expected to be around 5,000’. Snow will continue through Sunday night on S and SW winds with snow and rain continuing through the day Monday as the Low sits off the Maine coast. Expect around ¾” of rain at lower elevations through Monday with the liquid equivalent in snow at higher elevations. Wet, new snow in our avalanche terrain will likely bond pretty well initially to the current surface but wind slabs may develop as winds ramp up and shift west and precipitation grows in intensity and the freeze line drops in elevation as forecasted for Monday. New snow may also cover and hide crevasses. Be sure to evaluate the avalanche hazard Monday and Tuesday, especially if snow fall totals in our start zones reach those forecast by the Observatory for the summit. Hollow sounding slabs or large smooth pillows in steep terrain should be given some time to settle after spring temps return.

If you are visiting Sunday morning, we recommend the left side over traveling in the center or right side of the Ravine. Areas immediately adjacent to and under the closed Lip area have all of the hazards in the list below so travel in this area is not recommended and should be avoided. Rainfall and runoff will continue undermining snow and loosening frozen waterfalls so be sure to consider these and other spring hazards. This terrain is “no fall terrain.” The consequences of a slip or fall here could lead to the worst possible outcome.

Spring Hazards in Tuckerman Ravine:

  • FALLING ICE – 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. Avoid spending time in high risk areas such as under the Headwall or at Lunch Rocks, more aptly known as “Icefall Rocks”.
  • CREVASSES, HOLES, AND UNDERMINED SNOW – 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. Expect new snow to hide some of these threats.
  • 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. Very hard and icy surfaces make, a slip, trip, or fall a very serious situation so good terrain choices and judgement as well as proper equipment, like an ice axe and crampons, are your best defense. The bottom sections of popular runs are also melting uphill making it possible to fall into rocks and terrain features while still in steep terrain.

A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed to all use. This is due to the severe consequences of a fall in this area. The closed section extends from the top of Lunch Rocks to the junction of the Alpine Garden Trail above the ravine. Only this section is closed. Hiking or skiing in the vicinity of the closed trail is not permitted.

 (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.)

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, or the AMC at Pinkham Notch or Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 8:00 a.m., Sunday, May 1, 2016. A new bulletin will be issued when warranted.

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