This is an early season GENERAL AVALANCHE ADVISORY for Tuckerman Ravine. We have not yet begun posting advisories for Huntington Ravine due to an overall lack of snow cover in this area. These will begin when conditions warrant.
General Advisories are issued when instabilities are isolated within the entire forecast area. However, avalanche activity may occur within these locations before the issuance of a 5-scale forecast. Under a General Advisory you need to make your own snow stability assessments when traveling in avalanche terrain. Within the General Advisory there are isolated snowfields that are growing in size and may harbor instabilities. In Tuckerman the two largest snowfields can be found in Left Gully and the Chute. Some smaller snowfields are also developing in the Center Bowl and other areas. Conditions are changing quickly, so check the latest advisory before heading into avalanche terrain.
December 2011 hasn’t been the greatest month for New England’s snow-loving community, but the mountain is slowly changing over into full winter conditions. Recently there have been several small snowfalls that have contributed to the growth of snowfields around the mountain. 7.3″ (18.5cm) of light density snow has fallen in two separate events since the temperatures rose above freezing on the 22nd and 23rd. The crust that developed after that warm spell has some new pockets of windblown snow sitting on top of it. For now, the size and distribution of these areas isn’t great enough to bump us beyond the criteria for issuing a General Advisory, but it’s important for you to remember that avalanches can occur before we start issuing 5-scale forecasts. Instabilities may be lurking out there, just waiting for a trigger. Potential triggers include rain on Tuesday or perhaps a person climbing through a wind loaded pocket. Remember, the snow doesn’t care if you got new crampons or a beacon, or how long you drove to get here. Use your head out there and give even the small patches of windblown snow the respect they deserve.
OTHER EARLY SEASON CONCERNS—Winter seems to have just arrived here in the mountains. Trails are freezing and becoming snow covered. Hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail below Hermit Lake has the potential to be an icy nightmare. Trails going through ravines and gulfs require winter gear, equipment, and skills. Also, streams and water crossings are still in the process of freezing over, including on the trail leading into both Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. All this can make getting to a ravine challenging, and once you get there you’ll be faced with typical early season conditions such as thin ice, water flowing behind ice, exposed loose rock, and thin snow cover in most of the usual ice climbing routes.
Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast. For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.
Posted 9:40 a.m. December 26, 2011. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant.
Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856