Avalanches in Headwall area

By Frank Carus | MWAC forecaster

Date of Observation: December 8, 2018  11:00 AM
Location of Observation: Headwall area

Toured up to the mouth of Right Gully. Carefully avoided the floor and the run-outs of Center Bowl and Chute which have reloaded with more wind transported snow. Snow was soft and very reactive in the sheltered locations low in the Ravine, but stiffened to finger hardness in areas exposed to the wind (the slope between Lobster Claw and Right Gully particularly). Softer layers existing at various depths beneath with clean shears in a couple of interfaces closer to the surface (~20-30cm down but obviously variable by location). Skied cautiously on wind affected but smooth snow to lunch rocks. Sluice was primed with thicker wind slab and well worth avoiding until it heals or avalanches.

Sobering view of debris piles beneath the Lip. Wondered if the Open Book filled in and avalanched along with the rest of the Lip. Avalanches are pushing further onto the floor.

Little Headwall and the streambed still have a lot of open water and are unskiable.


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?

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