Summer Update

This past season was a test for the MWAC forecast team and for many in the larger community. The rugged and beautiful mountains nearby provide opportunities for challenge, growth and recovery from the workaday world but they can also be swift and merciless in their distribution of lessons to those that work and play on their flanks. MWAC staff tackled a major project by expanding the area covered by the avalanche forecast. We learned a lot in the process and look forward to continuing with the current forecast area. As you know, this past season was marked by personal losses for many when an avalanche, an icy slope and apparently irreconcilable mental health issues claimed three lives on Mount Washington. Losses such as these affect mountain communities around the world and motivate avalanche forecast and mountain rescue operations and other professionals to try to prevent such future tragedies.

Here at MWAC, we will continue to step up our game in whatever arena will help and with whatever resources we can gather. Among these efforts this coming season will be continued outreach events out in the community, from avalanche awareness talks from Boston to Portland to Montreal to Hartford and points in between and school programs designed to spark a curiosity in middle schoolers about the dynamic nature of snow in the environment. We also seek to increase the scope and timeliness of snow and weather data collection. In cooperation with WMNF Hydrology (thanks, Gryz!) and the Mount Washington Observatory (thanks Keith, Peter, Sharon and everyone else), we’ll be deploying a high tech snow and weather station that produces hourly data to be displayed in real time through a number of internet websites, including our own. Following the tragic deaths this year, we will work to improve the chain of survival for accident victims, target public messaging and continue to try to help folks make better decisions and return home after their adventures. Those efforts are manifesting in relationships with the medical community in the state of NH and partnerships with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, presentations at the upcoming Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop, and continued resolve to educate and inform our community on snow and avalanche conditions in the White Mountains.

Your support is crucial to these efforts. Whether it is a shared observation on our website or volunteering with Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, the MWV Ski Patrol, or other cooperating organizations, these efforts mean the world. We can’t do what we do without your help and support! Speaking of which, Friends of Tuckerman Ravine is looking for new Board members. As you may know, FOTR is our partner organization that donates time, money and materials to help MWAC in many areas. They are currently seeking help in some specific areas, namely; Communications –press releases, messaging, and public information campaigns; Development – membership, corporate partnerships, donor relations, volunteer recruitment; Facilities and infrastructure – maintenance, upgrades and planning for Hermit Lake and USFS Pinkham Notch locales; and Events and Fundraising – outreach events, parties, movies, slide shows and ESAW. If you have some free time and can help, contact peter@tuckermanravine.org.

I hope this post finds you well and enjoying the beautiful and (mostly) bug-free late summer weather. If you haven’t already, pull out your transceiver batteries, sign up for an avalanche class or refresher and mark October 19th on your calendar for the 9th Annual Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop!  We are already preparing to meet whatever challenges come our way this season as we fill the position vacated by western-bound Ryan Matz and tackle the myriad tasks and projects associated with the avalanche center. Until I see you on skis on or around the Rockpile this winter, maybe I’ll see you on a mountain bike, a hiking trail or local cliff!

-Frank