This advisory expires at midnight, Wednesday 3-14-2012
All forecast areas of Tuckerman Ravine and Huntington Ravine have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.
If we were face to face and I was explaining the overall conditions on the mountain to you it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. My eyes would be red and weepy, tears rolling off my sunken cheeks soaking my water logged shirt. My head would be hunched down dreaming of winters gone by, I think you’ve got the picture. By and large I have a good attitude and am generally optimistic, but until I get over how the mountain is doing it’s hard to candy coat the situation. Overall there is plenty of terrain to ski and ride, we are just 4-6 weeks ahead (or behind depending on your perspective) of schedule is all. Today is my Monday and oh what a change a couple of warm days can make since I last saw the Ravines on Sunday. The snow continues to settle, revealing holes, more ice and the initial inklings of several crevasses. The snowpack is generally stable, but percolation rates moving down to deep buried crusts, linger in the back of my head. This is particularly true with around the clock above freezing conditions. However, precipitation has been scant and brooks are still trickling at an average rate so free water in the snowpack has not been substantial. Today should not be excessively warm with the chance of some light precipitation and clouds. This will be followed by some freezing conditions tonight with avalanche terrain getting into the twenties F. The drop in mercury will slow down the prolonged melting rate, contributing to a more conducive tempo of the spring snowpack to keep it in place. A slower draining pace for melting free water allows impermeable crusts to deal fairly well with, and not be overwhelmed by, heavy amounts of water lubricating the layer’s interface. Several more days of our spring weather with some precipitation in the forecast should have us fully transitioned to a stable spring snowpack. After all this spring weather talk, the flip side is a couple of forecasted inches of snow tonight may give us some isolated pockets of new snow to talk about tomorrow.
As we have been discussing in the advisory of late spring hazards are here. In Huntington Ravine climbers should expect conditions more similar to mid or late April. Expect all the late spring hazards such as falling ice, rock, and undermining. Anticipate questionable ice protection in the sun, so rock gear will obviously be a better option when the terrain allows. Undoubtedly there will be cold nights and days ahead so timing is everything. As in Huntington, Tuckerman is seeing the same problems. We are witnessing some falling ice, undermining, weakening snow bridges, and open holes in brooks. The brook leaving the floor and the Little Headwall is pretty close to being done, and likely will be sometime this weekend due to some of the warmest temperatures yet this season on the way. It wouldn’t surprise me if everybody will need to walk out of the Ravine in the next 2-5 days. Skiing conditions on the Sherburne Ski Trail should be fairly enjoyable up high and a bit wet and slushy down low with bare patches popping out. I would expect the trail to change considerably by the end of the weekend.
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 8:05a.m. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.