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Huntington Ravine – Central Gully

A party of two was climbing Central Gully when the leader was hit with a naturally-triggered sluff avalanche. During the fall, one of the climbers fractured his ankle. Much of the information below was gathered from a narrative provided by a guide who was in the area as well as from conversations with the injured party.

Just prior to the incident, the guided group climbed up to top of the ice bulge in Central. The guide decided not to continue up the gully due to excessive spindrift, blowing snow, and generally harsh conditions above treeline. He had a 3-ice screw anchor built for his group in the ice. When the party of two arrived, he allowed them to clip the anchor while they climbed the ice. However, after the group cleared the ice they were climbing unprotected with a short rope between them.

At this point the guide was at the top belay, out of the fall line, while his clients were down at an ice screw anchor below the ice and also out of the fall line. About 15 meters above the ice, the party of two was hit with a loose snow (sluff) avalanche which carried them both downslope. According to the leader, the force felt as though he received a stiff push or kick in the chest. The guide heard “Avalanche!” but did not see the falling climbers pass by. He descended down to his clients to get them situated. He assumed that the slide had happened below him and that the party of two was still up in the gully. About 10 minutes later he heard a call for help. The party had fallen about 100m, coming to rest about 30m below the fracture line from two days earlier. It was the second climber who sustained the ankle injury. The lead climber was uninjured but did break his climbing helmet in the fall. It wasn’t until he descended to the injured party that he learned it was the climbers above who had been avalanched past.

With help from his clients and the partner of injured climber, the guide was able to lower the patient down toward the bottom of the fan. At this point two clients went to the rescue cache to bring up a litter. The guide had been able to wrap the patient in a bivy bag and help keep him warm with a water bottle of hot tea placed between his legs. The patient was then placed in the litter and they worked their way down to the Harvard Cabin. From the time of the accident (2pm) to the time they arrived at the cabin (6pm) was about 4 hours. Their efforts are very much appreciated, since the trail from the bottom of the fan to the Cabin is very difficult for a litter carry in these lean snow conditions.

USFS Snow Rangers met the group at the Harvard Cabin, reassessed and re-splinted the injured leg. From arrival at the cabin to the parking lot at Pinkham was about 2 more hours. The litter was sledded down the Sherburne Ski Trail by USFS Snow Rangers, MRS and students from SOLO who were at Pinkham for a Wilderness First Responder course.

We received word afterwards that the patient did indeed break his ankle, which will require surgical repair. This day (January 5) was the first 5-scale avalanche advisory for Huntington Ravine this season. The advisory for the day indicated Huntington Ravine starting the day at Low danger, but moving into the Moderate rating as a forecasted 1-3” loaded in on W and NW winds. The summit did record 2.4” of new snow on January 5 with winds averaging 56mph.

Huntington Ravine – Central Gully

Two skiers triggered a R2D1.5 avalanche in Central gully at approximately 2:30 in the afternoon. The previous night 2.9 inches of new snow fell on the summit with strong winds. During the morning and through the day this snow was transported into the deposition area below the Central ice bulge. Both Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines were under a General Advisory identifying snow stability concerns in isolated snowfields in each of the ravines.

In the words of skier #2: ” The sky was mostly clear with a lot of blowing snow, which should have been our first sign of newly loaded snow in the gullies. We moved our way up the hiking trail through the fan of the ravine carrying our skis on our packs. Halfway up the fan we broke left onto the snow fields in front of Pinnacle buttress and gully. Here we turned on our beacons and did a beacon check to make sure our transceivers were working in transmit and search mode: they were and we read in each others distance from one another approximately the same. With the high winds, cold and strong gusts, we decided to dig multiple quick/hasty pits as we ascended the snow. We found a lot of spatial variability up the slope. Scoured old icy surface, very dense heavy 2″ slab, 8-12″ lighter slabs, some of these slabs were right on old surface and some were sitting on top of what seemed to be consolidated snow. The cold temps and the winds were not friendly to digging more comprehensive pits, something we should have used as a sign that it was “not a nice day to go skiing” but we pushed on to the Central buttress where we found a large patch of recently (and still being) deposited snow. At the base of the ice route known as Cloud Walkers we began inspecting this new and different snow and kept digging around and feeling for layers in the snow as we climbed. There seemed to be no inconsistencies in this wind slab. Punching ski poles and our arms up to our shoulder we found the same type of snow as deep as we could determine with the assessment/observation technique we were utilizing. Climbing through this area of snow, postholing up to our waists at times, we made our way to the base of the ice slab in Central gully and tucked ourselves away into the corner of the rock climb known as Mechanics Route, which ended being a very good idea in retrospect. ”

The first skier started out and after one or two turns triggered a slab avalanche that carried the skier approximately 500 feet down into the fan, over snow, and fortunately not into the talus. The seconds skier standing along the buttress (skiers right) was not caught in the release and was able to move down the slope to help.

Skier#2: “I hurried down to a flatter spot where I left my skies and poles, pulled out my beacon and turned it on to search mode pointing it in the direction my partner had been swept toward. Taking a moment to make sure the beacon was indeed in search mode I found no signal, he was still too far away down hill. I began moving down through the rock fields, more or less on the hiking trail, adjacent to where the slide had flowed past. Visibility was difficult at a distance but I could see the debris from the slide. Most of it had been broken into small chunks of snow and some were still basketball size. I quickly moved downhill in a straight line scanning left and right to try to pick up his signal. Looking back and forth from my beacon to the direction I was heading, I soon saw a figure about five hundred feet below me moving from where I saw the slide go toward to where I was heading in the rock fields. It seemed to be my partner carrying his skis to a safer place away from the slide area.”

Snow Ranger doing a quick check on crown height.

Discussion:

In our experience looking at avalanche accidents and close calls on Mount Washington over the years, constant themes, mistakes, and oversights arise.  Many of them are related to human psychological factors, the mental drivers that whisper over our shoulder “..everything is fine, good ahead you’ll have fun, you’ve done this before…”,  while others miss the bulls-eye data that Mother Nature is offering and not having as much avalanche knowledge as we all should.  These are traps any of us can fall into, which highlights how important it is to approach avalanche terrain with skepticism and keep asking the critical questions.

In this particular case a number of things were done well and some factors were overlooked.  Good partner accountability and the ability to be support for our fellow partner is always important.  Sound rescue skills and a level head to execute under duress is what all of us want in our mountain team.  Beacon checks, going one at a time, good rescue execution are excellent practices and are commended in this case.  Having a good plan in case of an incident is critical, but focusing on and planning for rescue should not take a front seat to all the actions we should consider in order to not get caught.  It’s all about not getting caught, not avalanche rescue. New Hampshire leads the nation in the percentage of avalanche deaths resulting in trauma.  Based on our terrain and low snowfall an avalanche can often send you through the trees and rocks.  This results in a higher probability that you’ll be deceased when the snow stops more than any other state.  The avalanche beacon is of little value in this scenario.  So, avalanche rescue skills and gear are always extremely critical, but never more important than knowing how not to get caught.

In hindsight our vision is 20/20 as we ask ourselves “how could we have overlooked these clues?”  This is especially true with the objective facts we would expect to ask ourselves.  How much precipitation did we receive in the past 24/48 hours?  What direction are the winds and at what speed?  Is my intended terrain in the lee?  Do I have the slope angle and adequate bed surfaces for avalanche potential?  All these taken together will often send up some red flags.  After these questions are answered you’ve got some data, now what?  “What’s the stability like.”  Snow pits and stability tests can be a double edged sword.  They are critical to have an understanding what is going on under the surface.  Stability tests such as Compression Tests, Extended Column Tests, the Rutschbloc, etc. give you some indication how slopes might react as opposed to quick hasty digging (sans tests) which can bring out red flag layers or crystals, but are limited in what they tell us about how the slope might respond to your load.  The other edge of the sword in doing stability tests is they tell you what is going on right there and not accounting for potentially vast amounts of spatial variability.  As this team went upslope they recognized variability which led to a choice to not spend too much effort or time in one pit which is not an unreasonable decision.  There is a possibility that numerous pits would lead them to believe skiing the slope was a reasonable proposition.  In our terrain spatial variability often increases the odds of  “false stable” results when doing stability tests on a particular slope. Basically, stability tests can lead you to believe a slope is stable when in fact it’s not. No matter what mountain you’re on around the world knowing what’s buried 10-20 meters out in the middle of a couloirs is often the 64 thousand dollar question.

In this case, as best we can surmise, the initial fracture leading to failure occurred in a very thin section of the slab over water ice unseen from the surface.  It is very probable faceted snow sat between the ice and the thin slab (+/- 15-22cm) causing a failure back into the deeper slabs behind the first skier.  Given the same weak layer your “impact bulb” causes more stress on a shallow weakness than a deeper one.  The thicker a slab (i.e. +/- 80 to 100cm) the more it generally distributes your load over a broad area on a weak layer. In a thin slab (i.e. +/- 10-40cm) a point load of the same weight impacts the weakness with a greater amount of pounds per square inch generating a more likelihood of fracture and failure.

20 hours after the incident two crown line profiles were done in a +/- 12 meter section of the 30 m overall crown length.  This section was fairly consistent at 90cm deep before tapering rapidly after a rock in the crown.  A score of CT11 with Q2 shear occurred in both profiles failing at 90cm.  Although a number of layers existed above the test failures at 90cm they survived the CT11 tests.
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Avalanche in Pinnacle Gully

Shortly after 10:30am, a 31 year old man fell approximately 1150′ after triggering an avalanche in Pinnacle Gully. The avalanche deposited him at the bottom of the area known as the “Fan” about 50 feet below the debris pile. He sustained significant injuries but was able to call 911 from his cell phone alert authorities of the accident. USFS Snow Rangers were notified of the accident by the Androscoggin Ranger District at approximately 10:45 and arrived on scene with rescue equipment around 11:15. After the patients injuries were stabilized, he was packaged into a rescue sled and transported behind a snowmobile to an ambulance waiting at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

The avalanche danger for Pinnacle was Considerable, based on new snow being blown in on southerly winds around 40-50mph. Between 7.3″ and 8.0″ of new snow was recorded from the storm before it changed over to rain on Friday. It is unclear how much snow had fallen at the time of the avalanche, but we estimate about 4″ had fallen. The avalanche was triggered in new snow sitting on top of a rain crust and was classified as D2R3. The climber described his location as being “about 3/4 of the way up” the climb when the slide was triggered. He stated his belief that he was the trigger for the avalanche.

Due to unfavorable weather conditions, a rapid trauma assessment and extrication were conducted in the field. The patient was treated for a possible fractured femur. Other injuries noted, but not immediately treated, included an angulated wrist and superficial facial contusions and abrasions.

General Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:21 a.m., Monday, May 24, 2010

A General Advisory is currently issued for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts using the 5-scale danger rating system for the remainder of this season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. Other springtime hazards exist that you should be aware of. Please read on for details.

Mt. Washington in late spring can be an incredible place to visit, however, the conditions you encounter might be very different than other mountains and trails in the area. It is your responsibility to be prepared with knowledge and appropriate gear. First, plan ahead for the weather. Late season snowfalls are not uncommon and can create avalanche hazards. Also remember that weather on the mountain and in the ravines can change quickly, so be willing to alter your plans according to the conditions.

In Tuckerman Ravine the spring snowpack is melting away, leaving behind CREVASSES and UNDERMINED SNOW that should be avoided. Crevasses are created when the steep snowpack is able to slide slowly downhill, opening up fissures that can be quite deep. Undermined snow refers to any place where water has been able to erode the snow from below and leave a potentially weak snow bridge that is prone to collapsing. This hazard is often difficult to assess until it’s too late; if you must travel over undermined snow try to do so only on the thickest, most supportive, and most structurally sound snow bridges. Better yet, travel on bare ground or fully supported snow.

FALLING ROCK AND ICE is also a significant concern. As the warm weather melts out the ice that has been holding in place a season’s worth of loose rock and ice, spontaneous rockfall and/or icefall may occur. A general rule of thumb is to stay aware of what’s going on around you and to have a plan in place for what you’ll do if something falls from above. Over the years, many people have been injured on Mt. Washington by falling rock and ice. In addition to paying attention to what’s above you, also think about what lies below you if you are traveling on steep snow. A sliding fall into a pile of boulders or into a crevasse can have severe consequences. It helps tremendously to hike up what you plan to descend so you can assess this hazard at a leisurely pace.

The section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. Hikers heading above treeline should seek an alternate route; the Lion Head Trail is one option.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. This advisory expires at midnight Wednesday, May 26.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:55 a.m., Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

The weather forecast for the towns surrounding Mt. Washington is about as good as it gets for the next five days or so. Up on the mountain we might see a couple more clouds, but in general it will be pretty nice weather to be out and about. This prelude to summer is going to continue the melting that has been taking place in Tuckerman Ravine. Although I hate to see the snow departing at such a rate, the silver lining is the snow surface. We’re down to very old snow that has seen a winter’s worth of compaction, so the end result is a firm base with a soft layer of corn on top. It’s a lot better than those days in April when this type of heat created a bottomless layer of soggy wet snow. This melting also continues to keep CREVASSES and UNDERMINED SNOW in the front of our minds as some of the most significant hazards you’ll face if you come up to ski. You’ll do well avoiding the worst areas by staying out of the center of the bowl. Be particularly careful as you approach the edge of the snow near where it meets the cliffs; the edges often become undercut and prone to collapsing. This scenario is playing out in the Sluice area, making it difficult to find a safe location to put on your skis here. It’s also a good idea at this time of the year to stay aware of what’s going on above and around you and have a plan for what you’ll do when something falls from up above. Most of the substantial ice has already fallen, but there are always other things that can fall in your direction such as loose rocks, dropped snowboards, or tumbling skiers. And speaking of tumbling skiers, think about what lies below you as you choose your line. Falling fast into a crevasse or pile of talus is a rough way to end your ski season! In the past two days we’ve seen a skier fall into the boulders at the top of Lunch Rocks and a tree, rock, and mud fall event from the cliffs above the Chute. These are just two examples of why you should stay aware of what’s going on around you.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:35a.m., Friday, May 21, 2010

Printable version

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

Well it’s now been several days since the Ravine has been below freezing and the snowpack is receding at a rate comparable to my friend Greg’s hair line. And even though you probably don’t know him, take my word for it that it’s going fast. The amount of bald rock on the Headwall is quite substantial compared to what was there just a few weeks ago. There appears to be a stretch of sunny and warm weather approaching, so expect the pace to keep up for a while. This melting continues to keep CREVASSES and UNDERMINED SNOW in the front of our minds as the most significant hazards you’ll face if you come up to ski. You’ll do well avoiding the worst areas by staying out of the center of the bowl. Be particularly careful as you approach the edge of the snow near where it meets the cliffs; the edges often become undercut and prone to collapsing. It’s also a good idea at this time of the year to stay aware of what’s going on above and around you and have a plan for what you’ll do when something falls from up above. Most of the substantial ice has already fallen, but there are always other things that can fall in your direction such as loose rocks, dropped snowboards, or tumbling skiers. And speaking of tumbling skiers, think about what lies below you as you choose your line. Falling fast into a crevasse or pile of talus is a rough way to end your ski season!

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

I’ll be heading up into the Bowl to day with a camera in hand and hopefully posting pictures on our website this afternoon. A new Weekend Update will also be posted this afternoon, so if you are interested in exactly how much snow is left or want to hear the latest thoughts on weather check back in then. If you’re having difficulties getting the current avalanche advisory or weekend update, please accept my apologies. Our host server crashed a couple weeks ago and we have been unable to resolve the problems. We are attempting to limp through the next couple weekends. You can always get the latest avalanche advisory by calling (603) 466-2713 extension 4.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, the Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:45a.m., Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Printable version

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

The good weather will continue today especially if you’re an early riser. Increasing clouds are in the forecast along with a slight chance of a late day rain shower. We are most definitely into the last stretches of the ski season and with that come some hazards that you’ll want to be alert for. Each season is different, so it’s important to make your decisions based on the current conditions. For example, Paul, a long-time volunteer ski patroller and all-around great guy, was impressed this past weekend by how far up into the floor of the ravine you need to go before getting onto snow. It’s true, you’ll be on the rocky hiking trail almost all the way to the bottom of Lunch Rocks. Most seasons the floor takes longer to melt out, but this year there were fewer large avalanches to send debris down onto the floor, which means it takes less time to melt out this area.

Currently, the hazards you should be most concerned with are UNDERMINED SNOW and CREVASSES. For the most part, the crevasses are very visible and quite obvious to anyone with his or her eyes open. You’ll see that the worst areas are in the Headwall and Lip, and if you look over toward Left or Right Gully you’ll see far fewer. Undermined snow is a little harder to see, so be on the lookout for open holes with running water, areas of sagging snow, or moats formed near rocks. All of these are indicators that the snow might not be as supportive of your weight as you’d like. FALLING ICE has been less of a concern lately, but there is still some ice waiting to fall to the floor of the Ravine. This can be found mostly in the Headwall and Sluice areas. It’s always a good idea to stay aware of what’s going on above and around you and have a plan for what you’ll do when something falls from up above.

Most recent visitors would agree that the best places left to ski or ride in Tuckerman Ravine are Right and Left Gullies. The runouts have melted out quite a bit, but the upper sections still hold a good amount of snow. The lower portion of the Chute has also been skiing well. If you move over closer toward the Headwall, you’ll be dealing with more crevasses and undermined snow, as well as a floor that’s littered with large blocks of ice that have already fallen. Personally, I would spend my time doing laps in the Right or Left side before even thinking about doing a run from below the Headwall.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 7:45a.m., Monday, May 17, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

For the start of this week it looks like some great weather to get out into the mountains. Today we will have clear skies and decreasing wind speeds. Temperatures will be seasonable and cool, but the sun and lack of winds should make it feel fairly warm. Tomorrow will be more of the same though with a few more clouds. This past weekend I heard several people remark how amazingly little snow is left in the Ravine, but I heard just as many others comment on how good the coverage is for this time of year. I guess this underscores the idea that each year is different and you should always make your your decisions based on the current conditions. Currently, the hazards we are most concerned with are UNDERMINED SNOW and CREVASSES. For the most part, the crevasses are very visible and quite obvious to anyone with his or her eyes open. You’ll see that the worst areas are in the Headwall and Lip, and if you look over toward Left or Right Gully you’ll see far fewer. Undermined snow is a little harder to see, so be on the lookout for open holes with running water, areas of sagging snow, or moats formed near rocks. All of these are indicators that the snow might not be as supportive of your weight as you’d like. FALLING ICE has been less of a concern lately, but there is still some ice waiting to fall to the floor of the Ravine. This can be found mostly in the Headwall and Sluice areas. It’s always a good idea to stay aware of what’s going on above and around you and have a plan for what you’ll do when something falls from up above.

Most of yesterday’s visitors would agree that the best places to ski or ride in Tuckerman Ravine are Right and Left Gullies. The runouts have melted out quite a bit, but the upper sections still hold a good amount of snow. The lower portion of the Chute was also skiing well yesterday. In fact, I didn’t hear a single person complain about the quality of the snow, and today should be just as good. If you move over closer toward the Headwall, you’ll be dealing with more crevasses and undermined snow, as well as a floor that’s littered with large blocks of ice that have already fallen. Personally, I would spend my time doing laps in the Right or Left side before even thinking about doing a run from below the Headwall.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:00a.m., Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

Yesterday was a pretty miserable day and most visitors spent a good deal of time trying to find a piece of the Hermit Lake porch that allowed some reprieve from the driving rain. Conditions were perfect for hypothermia and we saw lots of cold visitors sporting soaking wet jeans and cotton sweatshirts. Luckily today will bring the return of the sun and the mountain air should remain dry for the most part. As the sun went down yesterday evening so did the mercury and lock-up of the snowpack occurred at upper elevations. Hermit Lake remained above freezing through the night and I believe that the Ravine danced right around the freezing point for the last 12 hours. The temperature at the summit is currently 29F (-2C) and expected to fall a bit more this morning before rebounding to the mid 30s F (2C). The wind is blowing at 40mph (64kph) up top and forecasted to pick up with gusts over 70mph (113kph). Is today a perfect day for spring skiing? Not exactly. Is it better than yesterday? Heck yeah! The crux today will be finding the right place to make some turns. When looking for good soft snow think about a slope’s exposure to the sun and wind. Areas like Right Gully and the Lobster Claw will offer better solar gain and protection from the NW winds but their southern exposure has had them melting fast so watch the runouts!

Snow conditions are one consideration when developing your plan but there are other mountain hazards that should go into your route selection. Though lots of ice has fallen at this point in the season ICEFALL is still one of your biggest concerns. Recognizing where icefall may occur and formulating a plan is critical. Don’t linger under ice including spots like the Lunch Rocks unless you have the protection of a large boulder. Once the ice has fallen it still presents a hazard by creating an obstruction in your runout. With potentially icy conditions in some places today you’ll want to keep long sliding falls in the front of your mind. An ice ax and the ability to self arrest will help you avoid sliding into rocks or ice or into a crevasse. Speaking of CREVASSES, they are numerous and widespread and present a very real threat today. As the snowpack deteriorates and gravity pulls the snowpack downhill it rips and tears apart leaving cracks and chasms of varying sizes. Steer well clear of these at all costs. By definition you won’t see the UNDERMINING that has taken place beneath the snow, but you can be on the lookout for clues to the worst locations. Sagging snow, open holes with running water, and “moats” near rocks are all indicators of undermining. Avoid these areas and stay on top of the snow.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Justin Preisendorfer, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:34a.m., Saturday, May 15, 2010

Printable version

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

Thick fog and clouds have consumed the mountain overnight brought in by the passing cold front working its way through the region. Dawn triggered some precipitation which consists of freezing rain and drizzle on the higher summits as temperatures flirt with the freezing mark at 30F (0C). Depending on your elevation you may see either a wintry mix or rain today. Wind velocities will drop from 40-55mph (65-88kph) this morning to 30-45+mph (50-77+kph) later today. As the front passes temperatures are anticipated to fall into the mid 20’s (-3/-4C) turning any lingering precipitation back to the frozen variety. In prelude to this occurring there are convective cells moving into the area bringing the possibility of thunderstorms and potentially delivering heavy localized rainfall this afternoon. Although this is not an absolute I would be prepared for it by having the right gear and being below treeline in the afternoon if possible. In the end the first half of the weekend will not prove to be the most glorious day the mountain has ever seen. However, in true New England style tomorrow will be a whole different story as the sun will rule supreme over the day’s weather bringing a nice contrast to today. Until then the fog and rain today will add complexities to our general spring hazards discussed below. The thick fog expected will limit visibility considerably from time to time keeping you from seeing rocks and ice on the Ravine floor, crevasses and other holes in the snow, and falling ice from above. The intermittent flat light will exacerbate the low visibility and will be a more consistent problem the higher in elevation you go. Some freezing weather this week brought some minor new ice development which rain should cause to fall today. A more substantial consequence will come from any of the lingering larger ice from the winter which is still hanging on in a few locations in the Headwall and Sluice. Since you won’t be able to see this for yourself today, we posted some photos to our website from yesterday.

The snow available for skiing enjoyment gets a little smaller day by day; you’ll need to balance the amount of turns with the building hazards in your fall line. It’s especially important at this time of year to hike up what you plan to ski down so you can assess the conditions before dropping in on top of them. This is particularly true today in periods of limited visibility due to fog and rain. The biggest issues you’ll be facing are CREVASSES, UNDERMINED SNOW, and FALLING ICE. As the snowpack deteriorates and gravity pulls the snowpack downhill it rips and tears apart leaving cracks and chasms of varying sizes. A little bit of newer snow has filled in the openings of some crevasses which might give you a false impression of where they start and end, so be very conservative around all crevasses. By definition you won’t see the undermining that has taken place beneath the snow, but you can be on the lookout for clues to the worst locations. Sagging snow, open holes with running water, and “moats” near rocks are all indicators of undermining. Avoid these areas and stay on top of the snow. Although trailing a bit behind crevasses and undermining as the main concern icefall will continue to be an issue. As already alluded to massive amounts of ice have already succumbed to gravity and fallen from the walls to the floor of the Ravine. Some additional pieces of ice remain in all areas waiting for today’s rain to join its family in the floor. Keep your eyes and ears open for this hazard and have a plan in mind should icefall occur while remembering fog will make this very challenging.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences.

The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:34a.m., Saturday, May 15, 2010

Printable version

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

Thick fog and clouds have consumed the mountain overnight brought in by the passing cold front working its way through the region. Dawn triggered some precipitation which consists of freezing rain and drizzle on the higher summits as temperatures flirt with the freezing mark at 30F (0C). Depending on your elevation you may see either a wintry mix or rain today. Wind velocities will drop from 40-55mph (65-88kph) this morning to 30-45+mph (50-77+kph) later today. As the front passes temperatures are anticipated to fall into the mid 20’s (-3/-4C) turning any lingering precipitation back to the frozen variety. In prelude to this occurring there are convective cells moving into the area bringing the possibility of thunderstorms and potentially delivering heavy localized rainfall this afternoon. Although this is not an absolute I would be prepared for it by having the right gear and being below treeline in the afternoon if possible. In the end the first half of the weekend will not prove to be the most glorious day the mountain has ever seen. However, in true New England style tomorrow will be a whole different story as the sun will rule supreme over the day’s weather bringing a nice contrast to today. Until then the fog and rain today will add complexities to our general spring hazards discussed below. The thick fog expected will limit visibility considerably from time to time keeping you from seeing rocks and ice on the Ravine floor, crevasses and other holes in the snow, and falling ice from above. The intermittent flat light will exacerbate the low visibility and will be a more consistent problem the higher in elevation you go. Some freezing weather this week brought some minor new ice development which rain should cause to fall today. A more substantial consequence will come from any of the lingering larger ice from the winter which is still hanging on in a few locations in the Headwall and Sluice. Since you won’t be able to see this for yourself today, we posted some photos to our website from yesterday.

The snow available for skiing enjoyment gets a little smaller day by day; you’ll need to balance the amount of turns with the building hazards in your fall line. It’s especially important at this time of year to hike up what you plan to ski down so you can assess the conditions before dropping in on top of them. This is particularly true today in periods of limited visibility due to fog and rain. The biggest issues you’ll be facing are CREVASSES, UNDERMINED SNOW, and FALLING ICE. As the snowpack deteriorates and gravity pulls the snowpack downhill it rips and tears apart leaving cracks and chasms of varying sizes. A little bit of newer snow has filled in the openings of some crevasses which might give you a false impression of where they start and end, so be very conservative around all crevasses. By definition you won’t see the undermining that has taken place beneath the snow, but you can be on the lookout for clues to the worst locations. Sagging snow, open holes with running water, and “moats” near rocks are all indicators of undermining. Avoid these areas and stay on top of the snow. Although trailing a bit behind crevasses and undermining as the main concern icefall will continue to be an issue. As already alluded to massive amounts of ice have already succumbed to gravity and fallen from the walls to the floor of the Ravine. Some additional pieces of ice remain in all areas waiting for today’s rain to join its family in the floor. Keep your eyes and ears open for this hazard and have a plan in mind should icefall occur while remembering fog will make this very challenging.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences.

The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:34a.m., Saturday, May 15, 2010

Printable version

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

Thick fog and clouds have consumed the mountain overnight brought in by the passing cold front working its way through the region. Dawn triggered some precipitation which consists of freezing rain and drizzle on the higher summits as temperatures flirt with the freezing mark at 30F (0C). Depending on your elevation you may see either a wintry mix or rain today. Wind velocities will drop from 40-55mph (65-88kph) this morning to 30-45+mph (50-77+kph) later today. As the front passes temperatures are anticipated to fall into the mid 20’s (-3/-4C) turning any lingering precipitation back to the frozen variety. In prelude to this occurring there are convective cells moving into the area bringing the possibility of thunderstorms and potentially delivering heavy localized rainfall this afternoon. Although this is not an absolute I would be prepared for it by having the right gear and being below treeline in the afternoon if possible. In the end the first half of the weekend will not prove to be the most glorious day the mountain has ever seen. However, in true New England style tomorrow will be a whole different story as the sun will rule supreme over the day’s weather bringing a nice contrast to today. Until then the fog and rain today will add complexities to our general spring hazards discussed below. The thick fog expected will limit visibility considerably from time to time keeping you from seeing rocks and ice on the Ravine floor, crevasses and other holes in the snow, and falling ice from above. The intermittent flat light will exacerbate the low visibility and will be a more consistent problem the higher in elevation you go. Some freezing weather this week brought some minor new ice development which rain should cause to fall today. A more substantial consequence will come from any of the lingering larger ice from the winter which is still hanging on in a few locations in the Headwall and Sluice. Since you won’t be able to see this for yourself today, we posted some photos to our website from yesterday.

The snow available for skiing enjoyment gets a little smaller day by day; you’ll need to balance the amount of turns with the building hazards in your fall line. It’s especially important at this time of year to hike up what you plan to ski down so you can assess the conditions before dropping in on top of them. This is particularly true today in periods of limited visibility due to fog and rain. The biggest issues you’ll be facing are CREVASSES, UNDERMINED SNOW, and FALLING ICE. As the snowpack deteriorates and gravity pulls the snowpack downhill it rips and tears apart leaving cracks and chasms of varying sizes. A little bit of newer snow has filled in the openings of some crevasses which might give you a false impression of where they start and end, so be very conservative around all crevasses. By definition you won’t see the undermining that has taken place beneath the snow, but you can be on the lookout for clues to the worst locations. Sagging snow, open holes with running water, and “moats” near rocks are all indicators of undermining. Avoid these areas and stay on top of the snow. Although trailing a bit behind crevasses and undermining as the main concern icefall will continue to be an issue. As already alluded to massive amounts of ice have already succumbed to gravity and fallen from the walls to the floor of the Ravine. Some additional pieces of ice remain in all areas waiting for today’s rain to join its family in the floor. Keep your eyes and ears open for this hazard and have a plan in mind should icefall occur while remembering fog will make this very challenging.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences.

The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit..

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted: 8:24a.m., Friday, May 14, 2010

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised. A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain.

Early this morning a drop in wind speed associated with a shift in direction began a period of light snow and freezing fog for the higher summits. Sporadic precipitation should continue and turn to all rain quickly as temperatures climb above freezing towards 40F (4.5C). Wind velocities will build into the 70mph (112kph) range by late in the day as a prelude to the cold front coming our way behind the warm front we’re dealing with this morning. Convective cell potential exists for the afternoon bringing a possible thunderstorm in addition to today’s rain. Temperatures will drop tonight into the 20’s (-3/-4C) which will bring the return of snow and mixed precipitation types through the dark hours into the beginning of the weekend. A wintry mix should prevail with the summit mercury climbing to the freezing mark on Saturday with peak winds around 70 mph (112kph) in the morning dropping to 35-40mph (56-64kph) later in the day. We’ll have more on Saturday’s weather in our weekend update this afternoon. We continue to struggle with some technical problems with our website that began a week ago but we should have this posted by early afternoon.

Available snow for skiing enjoyment gets a little smaller day by day, but the diehard mountain slider will still find something to ski or ride if they just can’t put the boards away yet for the summer. You’ll need to balance the amount of turns with the building hazards in your fall line. These usual springtime hazards should be on the backcountry traveler’s watchlist today. It’s especially important at this time of year to hike up what you plan to ski down so you can assess the conditions before dropping in on top of them. The biggest issues you’ll be facing are CREVASSES, UNDERMINED SNOW, and FALLING ICE. As the snowpack deteriorates and gravity pulls it downhill it rips and tears apart leaving cracks and chasms of varying sizes. Some are only big enough to grab a ski or board while others could eat you and your entire group in one quick gulp. Please don’t feed the crevasses it only gives them bad habits. By definition you won’t see the undermining that has taken place beneath the snow, but you can be on the lookout for clues to the worst locations. Sagging snow, open holes with running water, and “moats” near rocks are all indicators of undermining. Avoid these areas and stay on top of the snow. Although trailing a bit behind crevasses and undermining as the main concern icefall will continue to be an issue of concern. Massive amounts of ice have already succumbed to gravity and fallen from the walls to the floor of the Ravine. Some additional pieces of ice remain in all areas waiting for warmer temperatures to join its family in the floor. Keep your eyes and ears open for this hazard and have a plan in mind should icefall occur.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is CLOSED TO ALL USE from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This includes the Lip area and the section of the hiking trail from the floor of the Ravine through the top of the Headwall. Only this section of the trail is closed, and it includes the Lip. This annual closure is due to the magnitude of crevasses and undermining that develop in this area during the spring melt-out. A fall in this area would have severe consequences. The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and provides an alternate route to the summit.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters or the HMC caretaker at the Harvard Cabin. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Chris Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Tuckerman Ravine has LOW avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Thunderstorms and rain showers during the overnight will continue on and off for the mountains today. Weather forecasts are expecting thunderstorm potential and precipitation to continue through Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Adding to these pleasantries wind velocities are gusting over 60mph (95kph) this morning with temperatures hovering around 40F (4.4C). Unfortunately, there is nothing in the weather forecasts to indicate a return of sunny weather any time soon.

Today, as well as through the week, springtime hazards will continue to flourish and get worse. These have grown substantially in the past week, with conditions changing dramatically from day to day. Icefall has been a huge concern and will continue over the next few days as warm temperatures and rain help send large chunks of ice to the floor of the Bowl. A tremendous amount of ice still hangs in the Sluice as well as in the Center Headwall, so don’t linger below this looming hazard. At this point in the season Lunch Rocks is one of the most likely places to get hurt or killed by falling ice as it is in the direct run out of both the Headwall and the Sluice. Crevasses have also begun to emerge and you’ll need to keep a watchful eye for them as you hike up your intended line of descent. The Lip and Headwall area have the greatest number of cracks opening up. What you see on the surface is often much smaller than the opening underneath the snow, so give them plenty of space and travel carefully around the edges to avoid punching through. Undermined snow increased dramatically over the past week as temperatures stayed above freezing for a full 7-8 days before dipping briefly below the freezing mark. We are heading back into around the clock melting as the next 48 hours will remain above 32F (0C) all the way to the higher summits. Trying to ski/ride from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is now akin to gambling with your life. Large sections of snow have been collapsing into the river. On Saturday one lucky skier went for a cold swim and was able to be pulled out by another person, and this was just trying to walk back through the woods to Hermit Lake. Do yourself a favor and walk down to Hermit Lake when leaving the Bowl. There are still plenty of turns to be had on the mountain but visitors need to be on high alert for the springtime hazards that have killed and injured many people over the years. When choosing your lines or your resting spots make sure you assess which hazards you face and develop a plan for dealing appropriately. As you change locations through the day continue to constantly assess the new problems you may be facing. Never stop looking for the objective hazards the mountain may be throwing your way. Realize this may be difficult during times of fog and low visibility. Personally I would stay clear of icefall runouts, which is most of both Ravines, if I cannot see the ice coming due to fog. There is likely nothing worse than hearing a loud thundering crack and smashing of ice heading in your direction and not being able to see it.

The Lion Head Winter Route is open as is most of the John Sherburne Ski Trail. The bottom section of the trail is now closed and you’ll need to watch for bare spots up to that point. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail at the rope to avoid deep mud and water on the ski trail and walk the short section to the parking lot. This will be better for you and protect the ski trail from erosion. The Harvard Cabin is closed for the season leaving Hermit Lake Shelters as the only camping option on the east side of Mt Washington.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

This is the Official Tuckerman Ravine website.  Occasionally the remoteness of Tuckerman Ravine, weather, or communication problems prevent the website from being updated immediately.  Check the date, and if it is not the most recent, you can also call the National Forest Service’s 24 hour avalanche hotline at (603) 466-2713 (ext. 4)

Avalanche Advisory

Tuckerman Ravine has LOW avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are very unlikely and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated pockets. Normal caution is advised.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

After a stretch of very busy days with sunny summer-like weather, Mt. Washington has begun to fall under the shadow of lowering clouds. This is the result of a warm front heading our way, which will bring with it some winds on the front end and precipitation beginning this afternoon. Summit temperatures are currently below freezing so there is a chance it will start as a mix of snow, ice, and rain but it will transition to all rain. If this information puts you into a bad mood, try thinking of the positive side of things. For example, we’re forecasted to get well under a half inch of water equivalent by tomorrow morning. Compare this to the 3.5″ that fell early last week. It’s kind of like finding a marshmallow bunny that’s been hiding under your couch since the weekend–you’re not really sure why you should be happy about it, but you smile and eat it anyway. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the weather forecasts to indicate a return of sunny weather any time soon.

Today, as well as through the week, springtime hazards will continue to blossom. These have grown substantially in the past week, with conditions changing dramatically from day to day. Icefall has been a huge concern and will continue over the next few days as warm temps and incoming rain help send large chunks of ice to the floor of the Bowl. A tremendous amount of ice still hangs in the Sluice as well as in the Center Headwall, so don’t linger below this looming hazard. At this point in the season Lunch Rocks is the most likely place to get hurt or killed by falling ice. Crevasses have also begun to emerge and you’ll need to keep a watchful eye for them as you hike up your intended line of descent. The Lip and Headwall area have the greatest number of cracks opening up. What you see on the surface is often much smaller than the opening underneath the snow, so give them plenty of space and travel carefully around the edges to avoid punching through.Undermined snow increased dramatically over the past week as temps stayed above freezing for a full week before they finally dipped below freezing. Huge volumes of water coursed below the snowpack creating issues in a number of areas. Trying to ski/ride from the Bowl down to Hermit Lake is now akin to gambling with your life. Large sections of snow have been collapsing into the river. On Saturday one lucky skier went for a cold swim and was able to be pulled out by another person, and this was just trying to walk back through the woods to Hermit Lake. Do yourself a favor and walk down to Hermit Lake when leaving the Bowl. There are still plenty of turns to be had on the mountain but visitors need to be on high alert for the springtime hazards that have killed and injured many people over the years. When choosing your lines or your resting spots make sure you assess which hazards you face and develop a plan for dealing appropriately.

The Lion Head Winter Route is open as is most of the John Sherburne Ski Trail. The bottom section of the trail is now closed and you’ll need to watch for bare spots throughout the remainder. Cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail at the rope to keep out of the mud and protect the trail from erosion. The Harvard Cabin is closed for the season leaving Hermit Lake Shelters as the only camping option on the east side of Mt Washington.

Please Remember:
Natural events such as avalanches are impossible to accurately predict in every instance. This Advisory is one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. It should be used along with safe travel techniques, snow stability assessments, an understanding of weather’s effect on the snowpack, and proficiency in avalanche rescue.
You should obtain the latest weather forecast before heading into the mountains. Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers, Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters. A new avalanche advisory will be issued tomorrow and this advisory expires at midnight.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

This is the Official Tuckerman Ravine website.  Occasionally the remoteness of Tuckerman Ravine, weather, or communication problems prevent the website from being updated immediately.  Check the date, and if it is not the most recent, you can also call the National Forest Service’s 24 hour avalanche hotline at (603) 466-2713 (ext. 4)