This is a brief version, I might get to writing more later. The reason? We just got a report of a skier not getting up after a long fall over the rocks and ice in the Lip area. Here are some photos from earlier today to give you a sense of the conditions.
Generally weather will be great skiing weather. Normal spring hazards are emerging. Tucks trail from Pinkham to Hermit Lake is a river of water ice. Bring microspikes.
Well, it appears as though the situation with the fallen skier is at least under control, but he’s still a long way from the parking lot. Frank and Sarah, the AMC caretaker, are walking with the patient out of the bowl as I continue to write. As I currently understand, the skier fell in the Lip area, which has many more exposed rocks than it normally does at this time of the year. The initial report was that the skier fell over some of these rocks and came to rest down in the vicinity of Lunch Rocks. Bystanders quickly went to help, while another party came down to Hermit Lake to look for help.
The Lip got a lot of ski traffic today. It’s in a very different shape than it usually is – it looks emaciated, like you can see its bones sticking out from underneath a thin layer of skin. Usually at this time of year, we have begun to see crevasses opening up as the snowpack creeps downhill. It’s just my speculation, but I think the lean snowpack might not actually have enough mass to creep downslope as it usually does. Or maybe it’s the recent cool weather that is slowing it down and we just haven’t seen them really emerge yet. The result is that we have many more exposed rocks and ice cliffs, which make the consequences of a long fall more serious.
Elsewhere in the bowl, Left Gully has decent coverage from top to bottom. I expect this will be some of the best skiing this weekend as warm temperatures and light winds will allow it to soften more than it did today. The Chute has also seen some top to bottom traffic, but it’s a little more broken up than Left. Look at the picture above for beta on Right Gully. Hillman’s is decent from the top to about halfway down, then you’ll start to contend with exposed sections of rock and ice.
The usual spring hazards are starting to come into play. Notably, there is a strong potential for falling ice to be a problem tomorrow. Icefall is a natural phenomenon, but it’s not an act of God. If you are a parent planning to bring your kids up to the bowl to do some April sledding, be forewarned that there is very little “sleddable” terrain that is not in the potential path of falling ice. Any time you spend in an icefall path is hazardous time, so we don’t recommend people linger in these areas. Hanging around Lunch Rocks and sledding in the bowl are two very common things for people to do, but you need to know that it puts you at risk of grave bodily harm. So parents, do your kids a favor and leave the sleds at home. Or at least don’t send your kids up into the line of fire.
Another very challenging condition this year is the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail up to Hermit Lake. It’s rock and mud for the first mile, but then you get into long stretches of water ice. It may be possible to go uphill without traction devices, but going down is another story altogether. Bring something, Microspikes seem to be the tool of choice. Other traction devices (e.g. YakTrax) have not been sufficient for some parties. I’m not trying to advocate for any one brand, but I want to emphasize that the trail is very, very icy. I’d rather have full crampons on my feet than nothing at all.