General Bulletin for Tuesday, April 19, 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.  Remember that avalanche activity may occur under a General Bulletin so as always, make your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain.

Precipitation on Monday night did deliver a good shot of winter to the highest terrain of the Presidential Range delivering a bit over 7″ to the summit of Washington.  However, at the base of Tuckerman our manual snow plot only picked up 0.5″ of snow and over 1″ of rain. As you move up the mountain a transition to mostly all snow occurred, the majority falling on the upper 1000ft of the mountain. Anticipate isolated instabilities in the Ravine until proven otherwise by your stability assessments. An increasing NW wind late on Tuesday and into Wednesday will move some snow into lee areas of Tuckerman.  The irregular nooks and crannies of the previously bare alpine terrain will absorb an amount of snow being transported, as will the highly variable terrain of the Ravine. Small bump features from skiing over the weekend, melting, rocks, and breaks in the terrain’s continuity with brush and cliffs will all help reduce the overall impact of new slab. But, some isolated instabilities may develop so assure you have the skill and avalanche experience to make good stability assessments before deciding to enter, or be under, areas of new snow.

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 Lip area have all of the hazards in the bullet list below so travel in this area is not recommended.  This includes the right side of the Bowl proper from the Center Headwall, heading right to the Lip, and down to just above Icefall (Lunch) Rocks. This terrain is a “no fall zone.” The consequences of a slip can be dire.

BE AWARE OF THE ANNUAL SPRINGTIME 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. 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. The best way to avoid the hazard is by climbing up what you plan to descend and giving these areas plenty of space. If you see small holes in the snow or near large rocks, realize there may be large open spaces under the surface.
  • 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.

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 8:25a.m., Tuesday, April 19, 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

2016-04-19 GENERAL