We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories for Tuckerman Ravine this season. We will continue to provide snowpack and weather information as conditions change. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine, but similar hazards will persist there until snow and ice is gone.
Temperatures at night will dip below freezing with daytimes temps into the 30’s on Saturday and near 40 on Sunday. Generally sunny skies with some clouds will allow snow to soften for skiing but also loosen up ice and weaken snow bridges. Watch the temperatures and clouds carefully to be sure your corn skiing won’t turn into a potential slide-for-life situation. As always, don’t linger under ice cliffs. A warming trend this week will continue to melt our remaining snow which is holding up pretty well in the Bowl for this time of year. As temperatures warm, remember to manage your sluffs. The Lip is nearing closure with open waterfall holes, which have been the scene of a number of fatalities, in the fall line.
All of the following hazards have caused fatalities and should influence your terrain choices:
- Long sliding falls: The melt/freeze cycles of spring can make good corn snow when the snow is not frozen. When frozen, the icy snow is makes travel more difficult and can virtually eliminate your ability to arrest a fall. This refreeze can occur remarkably fast, potentially turning a good ski descent into conditions better served by crampon and ice axe travel.
- Glide cracks and waterfall holes: As the snowpack gradually gives way to gravity, the slow creep downhill leaves cracks, sometimes called crevasses, in much of our terrain. This is especially prevalent in the Lip, where a large waterfall hole is also present and growing. These cracks and holes will continue to grow. The waterfall area of the Lip has spawned large and destructive wet slab avalanches in the past during periods of heavy rain.
- Icefall: All ice in the ravines will fall down at some point due to warm weather, often in large chunks that travel at high rates of speed. The center and looker’s right portions of Tuckerman Ravine are most exposed to icefall due to the ice in Sluice and Center Bowl. Lunch rocks is a particularly inappropriate place to linger. Consider than speed is safety when passing under any ice flow.
- Undermined snow: In addition to melting on the surface, the snowpack is eroded by meltwater flowing beneath. This creates thin snow bridges that will collapse and are most common over streams and in upper portions of south facing gullies. The sound of running water can sometimes be heard under the snow and is a good indicator of this hazard.
The Sherburne Ski Trail is now closed due to lack of snow. Plan to hike up and down from Tuckerman Ravine. Skinning is not the option preferred by most any longer. The Lion Head Summer Trail is now open. Be prepared for a range of conditions including a steep snow slope above a significant fall hazard. Crampons and an ice axe are recommended in firm snow conditions.
• 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, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
• Posted 8:40 AM, Saturday, May 12, 2018. 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