We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories for Tuckerman Ravine this season. However, we will continue to provide snowpack and weather information when conditions change. Avalanches, falling ice and rock, snow undermined by water, large glide cracks, and icy refrozen surfaces all remain potential threats until melt out is complete. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine, but similar hazards will also persist until snow and ice is gone.
The beginning of this week comes with warming weather. Summit temperatures should remain above freezing for the next few days. A weather disturbance could bring clouds, rain, and thunderstorms on Tuesday, with a potential return to sunnier skies by Wednesday. Cooler temperatures are possible later in the week, keeping all of the classic spring hazards listed below relevant this week.
Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and its junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This closure includes the Lip area, which presents numerous hazards to the recreating public and potential rescuers alike.
The following hazards have all 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 a 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 Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed between Lunch Rocks in the ravine and the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail above the ravine. The significant fall hazard of large glide cracks and waterfall holes result in this annual closure. 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. 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.
• 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, Monday, May 14, 2018. A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.
Ryan Matz, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856