After a brief respite from the arctic cold today when temperatures climbed to about 5F above zero, temperatures will dip down again tomorrow before warming a bit for Sunday. It looks as if highs on the summit will be around -10F on Saturday and 0F on Sunday. Winds will increase from 35 to 75 mph through Saturday so keeping the revelry to a reasonable level tonight to allow for an early start in the morning might improve your odds of success. Looks like dewpoint and temperature will be flirting with the same digits so expect broken clouds and fog on the ground with some limits to visibilty on Saturday though things should clear out late Saturday night in time to let the mercury to drop further. Saturday night will offer a legitimate winter camping challenge for those so inclined. Clouds look likely to be clearing out Sunday, possibly with some upsloping mountain snow showers on Saturday before they do.
Snow stability should be pretty darn good in most of our forecast area. If you went looking for trouble you’ll be able to find it but most areas are scoured out by Wednesday and Thursdays high winds. In fact, the area beneath the ice in Center Headwall over towards the Lip and down to the upper left of Chicken Rock gully was sporting a crown line with a pretty sizeable debris pile on the floor. The striations on the surface of the debris from the intense windscouring was testimony to the power of 100+mph winds (160kph) to move wind and snow and grind away at the snow surface. Climbers will find good cramponing in most areas with ankle deep boot pentration even in areas with deposited, wind rippled snow. Watch out for the old gray surface beneath it all which has essentially the same density and friction coefficient of water ice. Crampons and ice axe are essential equipment in these conditions due to the wide ranging spatial variability which borders on the harder, icier end of the spectrum.
Be sure to check the advisory daily as changes to weather forecasts can change our avalanche hazards, sometimes significantly.
We are joining the Friends of the Mount Washington Avalanche Center tonight beginning at 6pm at the Frontside Grind in North Conway Village. Join us for a couple short Snow Ranger talks, a silent auction, and food and Refreshments. See you there or in the Hills!