Avalanche Observation, Tuckerman Ravine

By Helon Hoffer | Mount Washington Avalanche Center

Date of Observation: March 8, 2019  1:10 PM
Location of Observation: Tuckerman Ravine

Around 1pm, a skier triggered an avalanche on the steep skier’s right wall of Right Gully (HS-AS-R1-D1). This is a common spot for skiers to trigger avalanches in Right Gully because of the steep slope angle and the aspect of the slope changes from south to SE, directly in the lee of our prevailing westerly wind. The skier tried to ski cut the slope, but got nothing to move. Upon turning back, he was able to get the pocket of wind slab to release. The skier watched the slab break at his feet and was able to stay standing as the debris nice when the gully. Two people who were digging a snow pit below the choke were caught and carried around 25 feet. They were able to stand up and walk away.

Where this wind slab that formed at the start of the week exists, the structure consists of a slab that is 10cm-30cm of pencil hard snow, a thin (~5cm) weak layer of 4F snow, and a bed surface of pencil hard snow. In addition to the avalanche in Right Gully, tests today on various easterly aspects showed a propensity for propagation, moderate strength, and Q1 to Q2 shears.


Snowpack observations are one part of the complex puzzle which is your decision to enter avalanche terrain. Some observations may include stability tests. It’s important to understand that the results of a stability tests are seldom conclusive anywhere, but particularly in snow climates and terrain like ours where the primary driver of instabilities is wind drifted snow. Many stability tests exist and each works best with specific avalanche problem types. Stability test results should never be used alone as an indication that a slope or conditions are safe particularly when more obvious red flags are present. Please use this page as part of your information gathering process, but don’t make decisions based on a single piece of information. A good article that summarizes some of the issues associated with snow and avalanche observations can be found here.

The Mount Washington Avalanche Center cannot verify the quality or accuracy of any observations that come from the general public.


See an avalanche or evidence of previous avalanche activity?  Near-miss? Snowpack observations?

Your observations are valuable to an accurate forecast! We welcome observations from everyone. You don’t need to be an avalanche professional to submit helpful observations, just be as detailed and accurate as you can.