Avalanche Advisory for Saturday May 4th 2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche dangerNatural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is not posted. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington this season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Well there’s not much to say about the weather besides bring your suncreen because the sun will dominate the weekend.  Low wind speeds with very few clouds will add to the glory.  So let’s cut to the chase and dive right into some hazards to be aware of followed by some recommendations.

FALLING ICE. All the recent heat and around the clock melting this weekend has us very concerned about falling ice.  Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by this hazard.  Minimize the time you spend in high risk areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the Headwall or at Lunch Rocks.  Stay vigilant to avoid these most likely areas for ice fall and remain disciplined to give these locations plenty of room even if the snow looks tempting.   DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION.  Sitting on the Left/South side of the Ravine will reduce your risk.   

CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. The best way to avoid this hazard is by climbing up what you plan to descend. The most prominent area where crevasses have become a serious threat is in the Lip and Center Bowl.  To a lesser extent a hole also exists in Lower Hillman’s Highway, but can be more easily avoided.  Falling into one of these holes or breaking through a weak snow bridge could be fatal for you or someone in your group.

UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, we are starting to see this problem emerge.   While it may look thick and strong on top, you don’t really know until you step through which can result in a very undesirable outcome.  If you see a small hole in the snow or are near large rocks realize there maybe large open spaces beneath.  A common practice is to use a collapsible probe in questionable areas to evaluate snow depth and help locate problem areas.

“THE LIP” HAS ALL OF THESE HAZARDS THEREFORE IS NOT RECOMMENDED AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED.  THIS AREA HAS NUMEROUS RISKS, ALSO INCLUDING DEEP RUNNELS, AND THE MAIN WATERFALL HOLE.  MANY LOCATIONS IN THE TYPICAL LIP RUN IS NO FALL SKIING/RIDING/ AND CLIMBING DUE TO THE DIRE CONSEQUENCES.  We except this area to be closed along with the Tuckerman Ravine Trail through the Ravine very soon.  This closure occurs annually due to unique and high crevasse hazards.

THE GOOD- Some of the best skiing right now exists in Left Gully due to lower objective hazards and it being the longest run.  Right gully is getting shorter, but is also a reasonable choice. This is followed by Hillman’s Highway although a hole about one third from the bottom must be avoided.   THE BAD- The Chute is in very challenging condition due to steep bumps and a deep channel down the center that is very difficult to avoid (not fun). …AND THE UGLY-The Sluice and Center Bowl have a high degree of icefall risk, some crevasses and deep channels and should be avoided.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed one third the way down from Hermit Lake at crossover #7. At the rope, you need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. Do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope.  The Lion Head summer trail is now open and the winter route is closed.  Some steep snow traverses still exist just below treeline on the summer trail so mountaineering skills, ice ax and crampons are important to travel safely through this area.  All other routes/trails accessing treeline also require mountaineering equipment to travel through them safely.

Please Remember:

  • 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 or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 8:35 a.m., May 4, 2013. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2013-05-04 Print Version