Jeff

USFS Snow Ranger since 2005.

May 122015
 

A General Advisory is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. A General Advisory for Tuckerman will be in effect until complete melt out later this spring/summer. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

The snowpack in the bowl has melted considerably over the last couple weeks, exacerbating many of the springtime hazards while the snow stability has become very good. There appears to be a mix of weather conditions during the period of this advisory, including thunderstorms, mixed precipitation, freezing temperatures, and maybe even some sunshine. Be sure to get the latest weather forecast before heading uphill.

BE AWARE OF THE ANNUAL SPRINGTIME HAZARDS IN TUCKERMAN RAVINE:

  • FALLING ICE. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by falling ice in Tuckerman. The most hazardous locations are in the center and right side of the ravine, including Lunch Rocks, the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl. Warm weather and rain increase the potential for icefall to occur. There is still a lot of ice hanging waiting to fall. Avoid spending time in high risk areas such as under the headwall or at Lunch Rocks.
  • CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. These are growing larger in many locations; the most dangerous are in the Lip and Center Bowl. Give them plenty of room, since they are often much larger beneath the surface than what you can see from above. Breaking through weak snow into one of these could be fatal for you or someone in your group. The best way to avoid the hazard is by climbing up what you plan to descend and giving these areas plenty of space.
  • UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, this problem gets worse. It is most prominent in places where there is flowing water beneath the snowpack, which includes most of the gullies. While the snow may appear thick and strong on top, you won’t really know how strong or weak until you cause it to collapse underneath you. If you see small holes in the snow or near large rocks, realize there may be large open spaces under the surface.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS. Temperatures often fall below freezing even late into spring. Snow surfaces become very hard and icy, making a slip, trip, or fall a very serious situation. Good terrain choices, as well as proper equipment such as an ice axe and crampons, are your best defense.

The Lip area has all of the hazards listed above, as well as the main waterfall hole. Travel in this area is not recommended. This terrain is a “no fall zone,” where the consequences of a slip at any point can be dire. We expect to be closing this area and this section of the Tuckerman Ravine hiking trail through the ravine very soon. This is an annual closure due to the unique hazards posed to hikers and skiers. When the closure happens, we will let you know through signage and in the advisory.

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.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713

2015-05-12

 Posted by at 8:35 am
May 112015
 

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory  you will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

AVALANCHE PROBLEM: We are into a period of time with a very stable snowpack. Avalanche problems take distant a back seat to the hazards below.

WEATHER: Expect a dreary day on the mountain. Rain and drizzle, thick fog, and temperatures falling in the afternoon would be enough to make me think about rescheduling my ski day or summit hike. Don’t forget that there will also be a chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. See the Mt. Washington Observatory’s full forecast here for more information.

FALLING ICE: Falling ice remains a substantial and imminent hazard. We are at peak ice fall season. Massive blocks still cling to the headwall cliffs as well as on the cliffs directly above Lunch Rocks. Avoiding Lunch Rocks will dramatically reduce your overall icefall risk. If fog obscures the ravine today, the chances of seeing falling ice before it is too late become much less. If you must be in the ravine today, your best bets will be to go to locations with lower risk of icefall, such as Hillman’s or Left Gully.

UNDERMINED SNOW: This hazard develops where the snowpack has a stream or river of meltwater running beneath. In general, areas with the largest volume of flowing water will create the most undermining with a weak snow bridge above. The main waterfall hole to the climber’s left of the Lip has grown considerably with recent melting. A fall into this waterfall hole or other areas with undermined snow can be fatal. Give a wide berth to this and other holes in the snowpack!

CREVASSES: Crevasses are growing in many locations. The number and size of crevasses is greatest in the Lip and Sluice, but other locations have these slots opening up as well (e.g. the upper part of Chute). These can be covered by hidden breakable snow bridges. Many of these are wide enough to fall into and they are probably much deeper than you think.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Hillman’s Highway and Left Gully are the longest continuous snow slopes and have lesser objective hazard than the Sluice, Lip, Center Bowl, and Chute. The opportunities for skiing down out of the bowl or on the Sherburne are gone. The Little Headwall is fully melted out and the Sherburne is now closed.  Please do not walk on the ski trail. Doing so contributes to erosion of soil off the trail and will leave your boots caked with mud.

We will be opening the Lion Head summer trail this week. This trail does traverse a steep snow slope and has many patches of ice, so come prepared.

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, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and Hermit Lake.
  • Posted 7:25 a.m., Monday, May 11, 2015. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Jeff Lane, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713

2015-05-11

 Posted by at 7:22 am