Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, 3-31-2012

This advisory expires at 12midnight, Saturday 3-31-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE and LOW avalanche danger. The Sluice, Center Bowl, and the Chute have Moderate avalanche danger.  Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.  The Right Gully, Lip, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway have Low avalanche danger.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.  The Lobster Claw, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow. 

Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down. 

Since last weekend the summit picked up snow everyday this week adding up to about 13.5” (34cm).  Sounds great doesn’t it?  But when you start looking around you’ve got to wonder where it all went.  Plenty of old surface is peppered around all our forecast areas intermingled with small to large patches of new snow.  Although it doesn’t quite feel like we received over a foot up high, we do have new snow issues to contend with, albeit limited to specific areas.  I was close to calling all forecast areas at “Low” this morning.  However one significant factor pushing me into “Moderate” for a few locations is the potential for a high number of triggers (i.e. you and your friends) running around due to it being a “Spring Skiing” Saturday.  More triggers covering a given area increase the possibility of finding the “sweet spot” or weakness on a given slope.  Although we don’t have a lot instability concerns, if skiers and riders hit most of the new slabs in Tuckerman today there is a possibility of a human triggered avalanche.  The largest pockets we are focused on as problematic are in the Sluice below the ice which has already seen some foot traffic; above and below the Headwall ice and down low under the Lip in the Center Bowl; and in the Chute above the pinch point in the hour glass.  As individuals enter these locations I would be cautious about being under these slopes in the runouts.  Enough snow exists in some of these snowfields to bury a person.  Besides avalanche issues, the other problem the new snow is contributing to involve hiding a number of crevasses, mostly in the Headwall ice area and particularly under and near the Lip.  Because of this The Lip continues to be not recommended as falling into one of these holes could be very dire.  Left Gully and Hillman’s will be hard and icy, but are the best choices relative to your other options around the Ravine and the hazards they harbor. 

Cold air is still controlling the mountain.  The old grey colored surfaces are very hard, so long sliding falls are a significant threat to all mountain travelers in angled terrain. The slick icy surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory, the experience and skills to use this equipment is imperative.    

The annual undermined snow and crevasses exist around the Ravine. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the Sluice, through the Lip and into the Center Headwall. Undermined snow can be found in many locations.  Cold temperatures this week have strengthened snow in relation to these issues, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. Realize falling into an open crevasse from above is potentially more likely due to the icy surface conditions than when it’s soft.  We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.  As we already mentioned, expect new snow to be hiding a number of crevasses. Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it onto anything in the runout. Solar rays on dark colored rock can loosen newly-formed ice even if temperatures remain below freezing.

 The Harvard Cabin will close tomorrow for the season.    The Sherburne Ski Trail, full of icy bumps coated in a few new inches of snow, is open about 1/3 of the way down.  Cross over to the hiking trail at the rope.

 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, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  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

2012-03-31 Print Friendly

 

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 3-30-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Friday 3-30-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has MODERATE avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.  The Lobster Claw, Right Gully, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow.

Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

As of this morning the summit received another 3.5” (8.9cm) over the past day, giving us close to a foot (30cm) since the weekend.  Although we do have new snow in the Ravine, don’t expect a blanketed foot of snow laid evenly across the mountain.  Generally we’re wondering where it all went.  A great deal of blowing snow likely got eaten up by the irregular terrain above treeline due to the early spring melt-off that occurred.  Like in the early season, the nooks and crannies can make a lot of snow disappear before it makes it to the Ravine’s edge.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to be hiking through a few inches of snow on the trail just below Hermit Lake.  The Ravine is still cloaked in secrecy by clouds, fog and blowing snow so we have yet to see the outcome of new snow loading from the past 48 hours.  Nevertheless we’ll get into the terrain this morning to find out what we can.  Once again high winds, peaking at 78mph (126kph), undoubtedly blew new snow off icy cold slopes exposed to NW winds such as down low in the Bowl, particularly on the southern end below the Chute.  Conversely, I would expect new slabs that developed in sheltered locations, strong lee areas and in upper start zones near the horizon, to have stability concerns.  Summit temperatures over the past 72 hours ranged from the twenties down to a current of +1F, so snow has remained fairly cold being slow to stabilize.  In addition, upwards of another couple inches are expected today on NW winds currently gusting 60-70mph, and dropping to 35-50+ later.  This will continue to load snow available from the alpine zone into the Ravine.  Until some clearing conditions develop later I would be conservative due to visual clues being a bull’s-eye piece of data today.  The old grey snow and the fresh white snow will be in excellent contrast to one another allowing you to discern very stable old surfaces to questionable new snowfields.  We will post any updated information in the Weekend Update later today so come on back to www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org

Due to frozen surface conditions long sliding falls are a significant threat to all mountain travelers in angled terrain. The slick icy surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you.  Exposed rocks, chunks of ice, trees, and moguls that feel like rocks all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory the experience and skills to use this equipment is imperative.  If you have to rent this equipment I would think twice.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the Sluice, through the Lip and into the Center Headwall. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully. Cold temperatures this week have strengthened snow in relation to these issues, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. Realize falling into an open crevasse from above is potentially more likely due to the icy surface conditions and fog than when it’s soft and clear.  We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.

Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout.

The Harvard Cabin at the base of Huntington Ravine will close on Sunday for the season.    The Sherburne Ski Trail, full of icy bumps coated in a few new inches of snow, is open about 1/3 of the way down.  Cross over to the hiking trail at the closure rope.  New snow is helping cover the frozen water ice on the Tucks trail below Hermit Lake, but traction devices on your feet will be very helpful 

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, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  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

2012-03-30 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 03-29-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Thursday 3-29-2012

Tuckerman Ravine will have MODERATE avalanche danger. Natural avalanches are unlikely and human triggered avalanches are possible.  Heightened avalanche conditions exist on specific terrain features.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully to identify features of concern.  The Lobster Claw, Right Gully, the Lower Snowfields, and the Little Headwall are not posted due to lack of snow.

Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

As of Wednesday morning at dawn the summit picked up a quick 3.3” (8.4cm) of snow during the previous 8 hours.  There was little snow movement down into the Ravine due to the light to moderate winds through mid afternoon.  Later, wind speeds ramped up, gusting into the 60’s mph (96kph), with a 24 hour maximum of 70mph (112kph) around 7pm.  This 6 hour high velocity window moved some snow down into the lee of W winds before subsiding again over the past 9 hours, while shifting from the W to the NW.  Light snow showers have been falling since about 2am and are expected to continue through the morning.  This precipitation should taper to snow showers giving us an additional 2” (5cm) of snow today.  While this falls wind will increase from the current of 35mph (56kph) to over 60mph (96kph) later today, moving any new snow mostly in lee areas of NW winds.  Today’s “Moderate” avalanche forecast is due to loading that occurred around dark last night and in anticipation of additional snow today along with an increasing NW wind.  Some patches and pockets of new snow have already filled in some of the irregular surface texture allowing for a smoother bed surface for future loading.  If today’s full snow loading potential does play out there will still be extensive old hard surfaces in Tuckerman.  In reality hard icy conditions will prevail as the majority of coverage compared to new snow.  Therefore, be ready for both very hard old surfaces and unstable cold snow.  New snow issues should develop particularly near the horizon of prominent gullies or under strong terrain features of W and NW winds from the Sluice over to through the Headwall.   Clouds and fog will obstruct quality views making good assessments of the terrain from a distance difficult.  Because of this you’ll need to visualize the spatial variability, or differences, of snow conditions.  Poor visibility should continue until clearing conditions occur tomorrow.  We will spend time in the field Friday morning to have the best information for the weekend.  Looking ahead to the next couple of days, cold conditions will continue with the summit potentially breaking the March 30th low temperature record 24 hours from now.  This, after smashing the high records last week, ah…the ying and yang of mountain weather.  If you can’t convince yourself to love the diversity it will drive you crazy, I guarantee it.

Due to frozen surface conditions long sliding falls are a significant threat to all mountain travelers in angled terrain. The slick icy surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you.  Exposed rocks, chunks of ice, trees, and moguls that feel like rocks all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory the experience and skills to use this equipment is imperative.  If you have to rent them I would think twice.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the Sluice, through the Lip and into the Center Headwall. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully. Cold temperatures this week have strengthened snow in relation to these issues, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. Realize falling into an open crevasse from above is potentially more likely due to the icy surface conditions and fog than when it’s soft and clear.  We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.

Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout.

The Harvard Cabin at the base of Huntington Ravine will be closing for the season this weekend.  Saturday night is the final evening for overnight accommodations.  The Sherburne Ski Trail, full of icy bumps, is open about 1/3 of the way down.  Cross over to the hiking trail at the closure rope.  There is a lot of newly frozen water ice on the hiking trails. Traction devices on your feet will be very helpful.

 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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  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

3-29-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, 3-28-2012

This advisory expires at midnight Wednesday, 3-28-2012

Tuckerman Ravine currently has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely EXCEPT IN ISOLATED TERRAIN FEATURES.  Read on concerning the potential for increasing avalanche danger.

Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

Between cold air and new snow it certainly seems like we won’t be losing much coverage this week.  As of dark yesterday evening the summit has picked up 5.5” (14cm) since Sunday.  The vast majority came on Monday along with very high winds.  The combination of high velocities and icy surfaces has kept new powder from adhering on a high percentage of open slopes.  Most of the new snow ended up deep in the woods as well as in the nooks and crannies of the highly textured spring terrain. Since about 11pm last night snowfall has waxed and waned with winds between 30-45mph (48-72kph).  The summit is reporting 3.3” (8.4cm) of snow over the past 8 hours with more potentially on the way.  A fast moving system could give us an additional inch, potentially two, through this morning before turning to a wintry mix this afternoon.  Expect pockets of new snow to develop, depending on actual accumulations, mostly in the high start zones of gullies and slopes.  Pay attention to how much snow falls, and loads, associated with the forecasted light to moderate winds before precipitation changes to a heavier type later today.  Mixed precipitation would add additional load to any slabs that develop. If we do receive 2+ inches (5cm) this morning and spend an extended period at the upper wind forecast of 50+ mph before decreasing we will move into MODERATE AVALANCHE DANGER.  The moguls, runnels, skier created platforms, and a plethora of natural Spring induced depressions will absorb and anchor the initial loading.  However, eventually the rough texture and structure of the terrain could be overwhelmed by new snow creating a new flat bed surface.  The current terrain has the ability to hold and absorb more snow amounts than the smooth conditions of midwinter, but I would be prepared for an increasing avalanche danger perhaps jumping over the fence from “Low” to “Moderate” if the upper end of wind and snow comes to fruition.  Also be prepared for a thin blanket of snow to hide some of the traditional spring hazards.

Due to frozen surface conditions long sliding falls are a significant threat to all mountain travelers in angled terrain. The slick icy surface will allow for rapid acceleration down slope potentially sending you into numerous obstacles below you.  Exposed rocks, chunks of ice, trees, and moguls that feel like rocks all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. Evaluate what a lost edge while trying to ski or board would mean. In many places the consequences for fast sliding falls are pretty grim. An ice axe, full 10-12 point crampons, and real mountaineering boots are absolutely critical for climbing in these conditions safely.  Because the current surface conditions have made most steep slopes “no fall” territory the experience and skills to use this equipment is imperative.  If you have to rent them I would think twice.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the Sluice, through the Lip and into the Center Headwall. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully. Cold temperatures this week have strengthened snow in relation to these issues, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. Realize falling into an open crevasse from above is potentially more likely due to the icy surface conditions and fog than when it’s soft and clear.  We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.

Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout.

The Harvard Cabin at the base of Huntington Ravine will be closing for the season this weekend.  Saturday night is the final evening for overnight accommodations.  The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down.  There are a couple patches of bare ground and a stream crossing to negotiate before you get to the closure rope. There is a lot of newly frozen water ice on the hiking trails. Traction devices on your feet will be very helpful.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  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

3-28-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 3-27-2011

This advisory expires at midnight, March 27, 2012

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 when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

Yesterday we saw an unfamiliar sight on the mountain…snow! The Observatory is reporting 4.9” (12cm) of 10% density snow, mostly falling between 6am and 6pm. Now before you drop everything and head for the hills with skis and boards in tow, you might want to know that this event didn’t do much to change the conditions in the ravine. It’s still dominated by hard, frozen old surfaces. By the time I had left Hermit Lake at 2pm yesterday, there were approximately 2” (5cm) on the ground and it was blowing around extensively. Winds during the snowfall were very strong; the peak gust at the summit was 113mph (182kph) near mid-day. With winds as strong as these, the new snow was unable to adhere to the frozen and icy old surface. What’s left behind is a lot of icy old surface with very few locations where the new snow has held on. Mostly it’s collected in old boot prints and sluff runnels. It wasn’t even able to fill in the holes that have opened up in the snowpack in the Lip and Headwall area.

With the recent cold snap, the snowpack has gone into a deep freeze. Long sliding falls are a significant threat to mountain travelers for a handful of reasons. First, the slick icy surface allows for rapid acceleration downslope. Second, numerous obstacles may lie below you, in the path of your fall. Lots of rocks have melted out, chunks of ice and rock litter the slopes, trees are exposed, moguls are frozen solid…these all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. Consider what would happen if you lost an edge while trying to ski or board. In many places the consequences for fast sliding falls are pretty grim. An ice axe, crampons, and real mountaineering boots are very, very helpful for climbing in these conditions, but even these tools can’t protect you 100%. Much of the terrain here is truly “no fall” territory, even for experts. Don’t put yourself into a situation where you can’t turn back or downclimb. It’s your responsibility to climb and ski within your ability level.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Overall, the worst of the crevasses can be found in the center headwall, Lip, and Sluice areas. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully. Until the cold spell breaks and temperatures warm, the snow around these hazards will have good strength, which will help make them less problematic, but you’ll still want to know where they are so you can avoid them. We recommend climbing up what you plan to descend so you can learn about these hazards.

Falling ice should remain in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down. Expect dust on crust to just barely cover the exposed rocks. There are a couple patches of bare ground and a stream crossing to negotiate before you get to the closure rope. There is a lot of newly frozen water ice on the hiking trails. Traction devices on your feet will be very helpful.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-03-27 print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 3-26-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, March 26, 2012

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 when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

If you were hoping to find warm sunny skies on Mt. Washington today, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. It’s a very wintery day up here, much more reminiscent of December than of the warmth that happened just last week. In fact, a small amount of new snow has even fallen (~1cm), with light flurries in the air as I type. Temperatures will fall through the day to around 0°F (-19°C) and winds will be quite strong, blowing from the NW at 70-90mph (113-145kph). You don’t need to be a math major to know that adds up to tough, unforgiving conditions above treeline. If you’re coming up today, leave the blue jeans and trail sneakers behind and pack your best winter gear instead. My personal recommendation would be to leave the skis behind. It’ll be poor skiing conditions with some high consequences if you have a mishap.

Long sliding falls are a significant threat to mountain travelers for a handful of reasons. First is the slick icy surface allowing rapid acceleration downslope. Second is what might lie below, in the path of your fall. Lots of rocks have melted out, chunks of ice and rock litter the slopes, trees are exposed, moguls are frozen solid…these all make the sliding fall potential much more hazardous. An ice axe, crampons, and real mountaineering boots are very, very helpful in these conditions, but even these tools can’t protect you 100%. It’s your responsibility to climb within your ability level! Don’t put yourself into a situation where you can’t turn back or downclimb.

Undermined snow and crevasses have emerged in recent weeks. Today’s cloud cover and dusting of new snow will only make these hazards more difficult to assess regardless of your vantage point. The worst of the crevasses can be found in the center headwall, Lip, and Sluice areas. Undermined snow can be found in many locations, including Hillman’s and Left Gully.

Falling ice should be in the back of your mind as well. Below-freezing temperatures  generally pose less risk than very warm days, but the freeze-thaw cycles can work to dislodge rock and ice from steep terrain, sending it down onto anyone or anything in the runout. Again, poor visibility will limit your ability to assess the hazard, so avoidance becomes the best bet for mitigation.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is open about 1/3 of the way down. Expect dust on crust to just barely cover the exposed rocks. There are a couple patches of bare ground and a stream crossing to negotiate before you get to the closure rope.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-03-26 print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday 3-25-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Sunday 3-25-2012.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.  Huntington Ravine is under a General Avalanche Advisory.  A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

Old Man Winter returns!  The higher mountains will roar once again letting us know that winter is not over.  Precipitation expected today will fall mostly as rain, after a “wintry mix” start this morning.  This will change tonight as the mercury freefalls like a popped blimp, settling into the single degrees F on Washington’s summit, from the current of 30F.  NW winds will also ramp up significantly from 27mph (48kph) at 7:30 this morning to about 100mph (160kph) 24 hours from now.  This will translate into very-very-very hard conditions every where, and perhaps some verglass coated rocks from the rain today.  This reality will be extremely unforgiving to any foot placement mistakes creating long climber or skier falls.  Not only will having an ice ax and crampons be critical but having the skills to execute a self arrest effectively will be paramount.  Think strongly about your run out and the rocks you may run into, or cliff band you may fall over.   As for today, weather will be unpleasant unless you are ready to deal with the rain at 35F by having quality mountain clothing to keep you dry and warm.  To reduce your chances of getting caught by very firm snow conditions later, getting out early would be better than lingering late due to the temperature drop beginning later this afternoon.  Anticipate the spring hazards we have been discussing to continue to hold true for the day.  As we head into the deep freeze these hazards will ebb and flow depending on temperature.  Falling ice danger will decline while long sliding fall potential into crevasses and rocks will increase.  New snow may also be in the mix which makes us begin thinking of avalanches again, or at least enough snow to perhaps hide dangers like crevasses.  Cold air will be here for the foreseeable future through the week.

-FALLING ICE. Icefall is a very real threat in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.   Ice fall has seriously injured and killed numerous visitors in the past. The best way to manage this hazard is to avoid spending time beneath potential icefall.    Lunch Rocks is in the path of large amounts of falling ice from beneath the Center Headwall and the Sluice.   More people have been hurt in this area than any other in the Ravine.  Sitting across the Ravine on the left, or south side, is a much better option.

-UNDERMINED SNOW.  As streams melt out the snow from below and heat weakens the top, you stand a good chance of punching through.  Stick to the areas where the snow is deepest and avoid thin spots near rocks and bushes.

-CREVASSES.   Numerous holes and crevasses across the Headwall towards the Lip have opened up.   Falling into any of these can have very dire circumstances.  Because of these crevasses, falling ice and extremely poor fall line considerations the greater LIP AREA IS NOT RECOMMENDED.  Hiking up what you plan on descending will help tremendously to recognize all the hazards you may face. 

-LONG SLIDING FALLS.  Dropping temperatures tonight will turn the Ravine slopes into a hockey rink pitched at 50 degrees.  Having an ice ax, crampons and the skills to use them is an absolute necessity.  Ski and board edging will be very difficult and a fall will likely put you to Mach 1 in seconds.  Even world class mountaineers will have great difficultly arresting in these conditions.  Without other security such as anchors and ropes consider steep slopes to be “no fall” terrain. Think strongly about your fall line and what you may run into.  Hikers should have stiff mountaineering soled boots and quality crampons for travel.  Soft boots and flexible crampons absent of front points are not adequate.

Deep trough runnels from the Center Bowl over to the Chute are very deep and difficult to deal with effectively.  Left Gully offers the best snow coverage, the longest run, and the least amount of hazards in terms of icefall, undermining and crevasses, but consider falling hazards after freeze up.   Hillman’s Highway follows behind as recommendation #2.  We had to move the Sherburne Ski Trail closure rope up higher yesterday.  You can ski about 30% of the way down before needing to cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine trail, below that point is closed.  Use the connecting path on the uphill side of the rope directing you back over to the hiking trail. Please do not walk down the ski trail as it is not designed to handle foot traffic.  In addition to causing erosion, mud will likely overwhelm the tops of your boots.   The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch has a lot of exposed water ice therefore traction devices or poles may be helpful.

 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, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  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

3-25-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory of Saturday, 3-24-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Saturday 3-24-2012

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.  Huntington Ravine is under a General Avalanche Advisory.  A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

If you were up here last weekend you’ll be blown away how much things have changed in 6-7 days.   Due to this, there is so much to pass along today I figured I’d cut right to the chase and get right into facts and center target issues.  The low pressure weather system pushing into the region will create a thickening upper level cloud deck probably pinching off the sun fairly early.  Temperatures on the summit shouldn’t go up too much more from their current of 34F (1.5C).  Hermit Lake is also at 34F (1.5C), but I would expect the mercury to crawl higher than above treeline.  Mixed precipitation tonight should change to all rain with fog on Sunday as the higher elevations will be above the freezing mark.  Clearly it will be important to re-assess what’s in your pack to assure you can deal with the coming weather conditions.  Quality Gore-tex and insulation can make the all the difference between having a reasonable day and being in real trouble at 35F and raining.    

Spring hazards have really jumped forward this week so keep the following bulls-eye points the main factor in your decision making.  You can’t have fun skiing or riding if you get hurt so make these a priority in your mind today.  Watch for them and indentify where the hazards are before trudging up some arbitrary boot ladder.

1.-FALLING ICE. Icefall is a very real threat in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.   It will all come down at some point and although timing can be fickle, expect the potential to rise the warmer the temperature.  Ice fall has seriously injured and killed numerous visitors in the past. The best way to manage this hazard is to avoid spending time beneath potential icefall.  Remember that ice doesn’t always fall in a straight line and it can explode into many pieces as it impacts rocks. Lunch Rocks is in the path of large amounts of falling ice from beneath the Center Headwall and the Sluice.  Even though it’s been a popular place to sit for a long time, Lunch Rocks should really be re-named ICEFALL ROCKS!  More people have been hurt in this area than any other in the Ravine.  Sitting across the Ravine on the left, or south side, is a much better option.

2.-UNDERMINED SNOW.  As streams melt out the snow from below and heat weakens the top, you stand a good chance of punching through. There are many places where the water level below the snow is up enough that you’d be in trouble if this happens. Stick to the areas where the snow is deepest and avoid thin spots near rocks and bushes.

3.-CREVASSES.   The main waterfall hole just to the Left of the Lip area has completely opened up.  The entire area is also criss-crossed with a number of deep slots on the right hand side of the Bowl up towards the Lip.   Falling into any of these can have very dire circumstances.  Because of these crevasses, falling ice and extremely poor fall line considerations the greater LIP AREA IS NOT RECOMMENDED.  Hiking up what you plan on descending will help tremendously to recognize all the hazards you may face. 

Deep trough runnels from the Center Bowl over to the Chute are very deep and difficult to deal with effectively.  Take a close look at these from down below so you can consider other alternatives before having to face them while descending.  Left Gully offers the best snow coverage, the longest run, and the least amount of hazards in terms of icefall, undermining and crevasses.  It stands out for us as the best recommendation.  Of course it will still be important to look for general mountain risks even in the safest of locations.  Hillman’s Highway follows closely behind as recommendation #2 although it has gotten narrow in some places and lost a bit of coverage this week.  Due to the Hurricane Irene landslide in Hillman’s last summer we are learning about how the gully reacts to melt-out this year.  We expect new areas of undermining and potentially some rock fall as the raw landscape becomes exposed again and responds to the melt freeze process.  It is still a reasonable choice, but stay aware of the hazards and use some caution.

We had to move the Sherburne Ski Trail closure rope up higher yesterday.  You can ski about 30% of the way down before needing to cross over to the Tuckerman Ravine trail, below that point is closed.  Use the connecting path on the uphill side of the rope directing you back over to the hiking trail. Please do not walk down the ski trail as it is not designed to handle foot traffic.  In addition to causing erosion, mud will likely overwhelm the tops of your boots.  The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and the winter Lion Head route is now closed.  The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch has a lot of exposed water ice therefore traction devices or poles may be helpful.

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, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Christopher Joosen, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
03-24-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 3-23-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Friday 3-23-2012

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 when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

If this week is any indication where our climate is going I’d recommend adding Coppertone to your stock portfolio.  I can barely recall mid-summer stretches that have been this nice.  We are all pinching ourselves to remember it’s only the third week of March! Saying all this, we needed to be brought back to reality at some point so expect an end to the record breaking heat and sun over the next 48 hours.  Mother nature is letting us off slowly though as another fine day is in store, but it will be a bit milder than the 80’s we’ve seen over the past several days down in the valley.  Summit temperatures will crawl up from their current of 29F into the mid 30’sF along with winds between 65-85mph.  This should keep many high snowfields hard today and keep the mountain’s feel a bit brisk.  It’s time to start changing your mindset again about what’s in your pack and assure the right clothing and gear is on board.  Saturday’s conditions will add more clouds and a decreasing wind as a precursor to the precipitation on the way Saturday evening and into Sunday.  Valley locations are anticipating ‘rain likely’, albeit reasonably light with 0.1” predicted.  Meanwhile weather models are pointing to colder air aloft, perhaps giving us something of the frozen variety up high.  Check back in the Weekend Update later today and the Saturday advisory for better info on Sunday’s precipitation.    

The typical spring hazards continue to advance and are the main bulls-eye points for you to keep in mind.  You can’t have fun skiing or riding if you get hurt so make these a priority in your brain’s random access memory for quick re-call.  Watch for them and indentify where the hazards are before trudging up some arbitrary boot ladder.

1.-FALLING ICE is the number one concern today. Icefall is a very real threat in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.  The recent heat has begun sending ice crashing to the floor below.  It’s been a bit surprising how a great deal of ice is hanging in through the heat demonstrating how unpredictable it can be.  It will all come down at some point and although timing can be fickle, expect the potential to rise the warmer the temperature.  Ice fall has seriously injured and killed numerous visitors in the past. The best way to manage this hazard is to avoid spending time beneath potential icefall.  Remember that ice doesn’t always fall in a straight line and it can explode into thousands of pieces as it impacts rocks. Lunch Rocks is in the path of huge amounts of falling ice from both the Headwall and the Sluice.  Even though it’s been a popular place to sit for a long time, Lunch Rocks should really be re-named ICEFALL ROCKS!  It is a very bad place to sit. More people have been hurt in this area than any other in the Ravine.  Sitting across the Ravine on the left, or south side, is a much better option.

2.-UNDERMINED SNOW.  As streams melt out the snow from below and heat weakens the top, you stand a good chance of punching through. There are many places where the water level below the snow is up enough that you’d be in trouble if this happens. Stick to the areas where the snow is deepest and avoid thin spots near rocks and bushes.

3.-CREVASSES.   The main waterfall hole just to the Left of the Lip area has completely opened up as it does every year.  Avoid traveling too closely to the edge of this hazardous place and other openings that are developing.  In addition, crevasse development has been increasing around the entire Lip area and is best avoided for better skiing locations. Hiking up what you plan on descending will help tremendously to recognize all the hazards you may face. 

Deep sluff runnels from the Lip over to the Chute are causing significant problems for even the best skiers and riders.  Left Gully and Hillman’s Highway offer the best snow coverage, the longest runs, and the least amount of hazards in terms of icefall, undermining and crevasses.  These gullies stand out for us as the best recommendations.  Of course it will still be important to look for general mountain risks even in the safest locations.

The lower half of the Sherburne Ski Trail is closed.  Cross over at the rope directing you back over to the hiking trail. Please do not walk down the ski trail as it is not designed to handle foot traffic.  In addition to causing erosion, mud will likely overwhelm the tops of your boots.  The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and the winter Lion Head route is now closed.  The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch has a lot of exposed water ice. Traction devices or poles may be helpful. If you want to skin up the trail, you’ll have to carry them for the first half of the trail.

 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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  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

3-23-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 3-22-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Thursday 3-22-2012

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 when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

The extremely unusual heat wave continues, more of the same today as record temperatures engulf the region and change snow conditions on the mountain.  To put the current heat in perspective a bit, yesterday the summit tied the all time record for the Month of March while valley regions completely smashed records for the day.  As an example Bangor, Maine buried their previous record yesterday set in 1946 by almost 20 degrees!  On the mountain this has manifested into more rapid changes, which is particularly evident watching the Tuckerman crevasses grow and Headwall open up.  The most dramatic example for me has been the Sherburne ski trail which was skiable to the parking lot on Saturday.  By Wednesday afternoon it was only snow covered to the half way point, over a mile up the trail.  The controlling high pressure will push out of the region after today bringing in some cooler air, albeit still mild for late March.  Freezing nights will return Friday night which will substantially slow the deterioration rate, but will also make for some hard snow for the beginning of the day.

The typical spring hazards continue to advance and are the main bulls-eye points for you to keep in mind.  You can’t have fun skiing or riding if you get hurt so make these a priority in your brain’s random access memory for quick re-call.  Watch for them and indentify where the hazards are before trudging up some arbitrary boot ladder.

1.-FALLING ICE. Once again, this is the number one concern today. Icefall is a very real threat in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.  The recent heat has begun sending ice crashing to the floor below.  Falling ice has seriously injured and killed numerous visitors in the past. The best way to manage this hazard is to avoid spending time beneath potential icefall.  Remember that ice doesn’t always fall in a straight line and it can explode into thousands of pieces as it impacts rocks. Lunch Rocks is in the path of huge amounts of falling ice from both the Headwall and the Sluice.  Even though it’s been a popular place to sit for a long time, Lunch Rocks should really be re-named ICEFALL ROCKS!  It is a very bad place to sit. More people have been hurt in this area than any other in the Ravine.  Sitting across the Ravine on the left, or south side, is a much better option.

2.-UNDERMINED SNOW.  As streams melt out the snow from below and heat weakens the top, you stand a good chance of punching through. There are many places where the water level below the snow is up enough that you’d be in trouble if this happens. Stick to the areas where the snow is deepest and avoid thin spots near rocks and bushes.

3.-CREVASSES. So far this year the crevasse hazard development has been slow all things considered, but this has been changing over the past 2-3 days.  The main waterfall hole just to the Left of the Lip area has completely opened up as it does every year.  Avoid traveling too closely to the edge of this hazardous place and other openings that are developing. Hiking up what you plan on descending will help tremendously to recognize all the hazards you may face. 

Sluff runnels from the Lip over to the Chute are getting deeper, even since yesterday, and are causing significant problems for even the best skiers and riders.  Left Gully and Hillman’s Highway offer the best snow coverage, the longest runs, and the least amount of hazards in terms of icefall, undermining and crevasses.  These gullies stand out for us as the best recommendations.  Of course it will still be important to look for general mountain risks even in the safest locations. 

The lower half of the Sherburne Ski Trail is closed.  Cross over at the rope directing you back over to the hiking trail. Please do not walk down the ski trail as it is not designed to handle foot traffic.  In addition to causing erosion, mud will likely overwhelm the tops of your boots.  The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and the winter Lion Head route is now closed.  The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch has a lot of exposed water ice. Traction devices or poles may be helpful. If you want to skin up the trail, you’ll have to carry them for the first half of the trail.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  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

3-22-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday, 3-21-2012

This advisory expires at midnight Wednesday, 3-21-2012

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 when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

As the days keep getting warmer I began falling into a time warp, propelled forward to mid-summer.  I seriously started to forget what month we were in as even shorts and a t-shirt seemed too hot.  Another couple of days in the 80’s F for our local valleys will continue to wreck havoc on our mountain snowpack.  Looking up at the south facing gullies of Huntington and seeing bare rock this morning, with a few specks of white, is a testament to what a summer like sun can do in rapid fashion.  

With this record heat wave for mid March comes our laundry list of springtime hazards and transitions which are changing day by day, and even by the hour in some cases.

  1. FALLING ICE. Once again, this is the number one concern today. Icefall is a very real threat in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.  The recent heat has begun sending ice crashing to the floor below.  Falling ice has seriously injured and killed numerous visitors in the past. The best way to manage this hazard is to avoid spending time beneath potential icefall.  Remember that ice doesn’t always fall in a straight line and it can explode into thousands of pieces as it impacts rocks. Lunch Rocks is in the path of huge amounts of falling ice from both the Headwall and the Sluice.  Even though it’s been a popular place to sit for a long time, Lunch Rocks should really be re-named ICEFALL ROCKS!  It is a very bad place to sit. More people have been hurt in this area than any other in the Ravine.  Sitting across the Ravine on the left, or south side, is a much better option.
  2. UNDERMINED SNOW.  As streams melt out the snow from below and heat weakens the top, you stand a good chance of punching through. There are many places where the water level below the snow is up enough that you’d be in trouble if this happens. Stick to the areas where the snow is deepest and avoid thin spots near rocks and bushes.
  3. CREVASSES. So far this year the crevasse hazard hasn’t been too bad, but they have begun to open.  The main waterfall hole just to the Left of the Lip area however, has completely opened up as it does every year.  Avoid traveling too closely to the edge of this hazardous place and other openings that are developing. Hiking up what you plan on descending will help tremendously to recognize all the hazards you may face. 

Sluff runnels from the Lip over to the Chute are getting deeper and are causing significant problems for even the best skiers and riders.  Left Gully and Hillman’s Highway offer the best snow coverage, the longest runs, and the least amount of hazards in terms of icefall, undermining and crevasses.  These two gullies stand out for us as the best recommendations.  Of course it will still be important to look for general mountain risks even in the safest locations.

The lower 25% of the Sherburne Ski Trail is closed.  Cross over at the rope directing you back over to the hiking trail. It’s only a short walk to Pinkham from there so please do not walk down the ski trail.  It is not designed to handle foot traffic.  Therefore in addition to causing erosion, mud will likely overwhelm the tops of your boots.

The Lion Head Summer Trail is open and the winter Lion Head route is now closed. Please avoid using the winter route to avoid damaging the soil on the steep section of trail.  Although the summer trail is snow covered it is much less technical than the winter option.  The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch has a lot of exposed water ice. Traction devices or poles may be helpful. If you want to skin up the trail, you will probably want to walk the first mile with your skis on your pack.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  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

3-21-2012 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 3-20-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Tuesday, 3-20-2012

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 when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

Happy first day of spring, everyone! If you’re like me, you didn’t realize the official transition from winter to spring hadn’t yet happened. The summer-like weather will be continuing today. A quick look at the weather history shows that the summit’s average temperature has been 30F or greater for 7 of the last 8 days. We’ve got a few more days of unseasonably warm temperatures before any relief whatsoever. With this heat wave comes our laundry list of springtime hazards and transitions:

  1. Falling Ice. Once again, this is the number one concern I have this morning. Icefall is a very real threat in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. From the divots in the snow, it appears as though one sizeable chunk has fallen from the Sluice toward Lunch Rocks. There is plenty more where that came from, as well as in the headwall. Remember, falling ice can kill you. The best way to manage this hazard is to avoid spending time beneath potential icefall. The ice doesn’t always fall in a straight line, and it can explode into thousands of pieces as it impacts rocks. Lunch Rocks is in the path of huge amounts of falling ice. It is not a safe place to sit.
  2. Undermined Snow. This is beginning to become a problem in more areas than just the stream above the Little Headwall. As streams melt out the snow from below and heat weakens the top, you stand a good chance of punching through. There are many places where the water level below the snow is up enough that you’d be in trouble if this happens. Stick to the areas where the snow is deepest and avoid thin spots near rocks and bushes.
  3. Crevasses. So far this year the crevasse hazard hasn’t been too bad, but we are starting to see some holes open up in the headwall and Lip area. Avoid traveling too closely to the edge of these openings.

All things considered, the skiing and riding conditions are doing all right. There are sluff runnels forming that can easily trip up even the best athletes. The N-facing slopes tend to have more snow than other areas. I’d recommend Hillman’s and Left Gully as two of the best locations. Bring your fattest boards to stay atop the deep wet snowpack.  

The lower section of the Sherburne Ski Trail will be closed as of today. There will be a rope to direct you back toward the hiking trail. Do not walk down the ski trail; you will only contribute to erosion of the muddy trail.

We have transitioned to the Lion Head Summer Trail. The winter Lion Head route is now closed. Please avoid using this route to avoid damaging the soil on the steep section of trail. The summer trail does still have a lot of snow on it. Plan for wet snow and postholing over the next several days.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch has a lot of exposed water ice. Traction devices or poles may be helpful. If you want to skin up the trail, you will probably want to walk the first mile with your skis on your pack.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-03-20 print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 3-19-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Monday, 3-19-2012

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 when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

And it continues…another day with record breaking temperatures for Mt. Washington. The only difference for today will be some clouds and a slight chance of a rain shower. In case you spent the weekend watching basketball games in your basement man cave, the weather was unbelievably hot and sunny for the middle of March. Overall traffic was lighter than expected, but there were several hundred people each day testing the resiliency of last year’s bottle of sunblock and enjoying turns. Sources tell us that about 100 or so people were in Huntington on Saturday, more than I’ve ever seen there in a single day. Over the past week or so, winter has rapidly disappeared and springtime has fully overtaken the mountain. This has brought on the full range of spring conditions and associated hazards. The laundry list of items you should know about includes:

  • Falling Ice. Both Tuckerman and Huntington have a lot of ice hanging on the steep slopes, waiting to crash to the floor. It’s been cooking in the sun for a week or so, getting weaker by the day. This will come down at some point, and you don’t want to be nearby when it goes. Lunch Rocks sits in the fall zone of the most dangerous ice in Tuckerman, so don’t think of Lunch Rocks as a safe place to sit!
  • The Little Headwall is no longer an option for exiting Tuckerman Ravine. The fastest and easiest way down is to pack up your skis and hike down to Hermit Lake.
  • Crevasses and the waterfall hole are beginning to open up under the ice in the Headwall and near the Lip. The growth of these over the past few days has been impressive. Give them wide berth, because they’re going to be larger underneath the snow than the opening you can see at the surface.
  • The Sherburne Ski Trail has been melting quickly. We anticipate closing the lower sections of the trail beginning early this week. When you get to the rope, head over to the hiking trail for the rest of the way down.
  • The Lion Head winter route is now closed. Please avoid using this route to avoid damaging the soil on the steep section of trail. The summer trail is open but does have a lot of snow on it. Plan for wet snow and postholing over the next several days.

We’d like to thank everyone who helped out with rescue efforts on Saturday. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a helicopter land on the floor of the ravine, and we could not have done this without everyone’s cooperation. So even if all you did was stay out of the way, we thank you.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-03-19 print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday, 3-18-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Sunday, 3-18-2012

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 when using avalanche terrain in Huntington. A danger of falling ice exists, and will persist until it all comes down.

I wish I could simply say that today will be more of the same weather we had yesterday, but that simply wouldn’t be true. Years from now, we’ll be sitting around the woodstove telling stories of how wacky the weather was back in March 2012. Pay attention this month, so you’ll be able to get the story straight when those times arrive. Mt. Washington has already crested its record high temperature for the day. By dusk, that record will have been crushed with temperatures maybe reaching 50F (10C) on the summit. The long range forecast has valley temperatures in the 70s F for several more days this coming week. Soooo…how is that impacting the spring ski scene here?

The snowpack is going to be deteriorating rapidly. So far, we’ve already swapped to the Lion Head summer trail, begun issuing General Advisories for Huntington, and parked our snow cat for the season. Currently there is good coverage in a lot of areas, especially Hillman’s, Left Gully, and the Chute. The quality of the snow will be going downhill though. The lack of freezing temperatures at night and the intense heat create wet slushy snow. This carves deep runnels as the sluff skiers kick off flows downhill. These get progressively deeper, and negotiating these troughs is challenging. Overall, we are well ahead of where we normally are at this time of year. This means the annual springtime hazards have emerged and you need to be aware of them.

  1. Falling Ice. Through the years, there have been many significant injuries and even fatalities from falling ice. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid spending time in the potential path of icefall, which can happen almost anywhere right now. In Tuckerman, the most dangerous ice can be found in the Center Bowl as well as directly above Lunch Rocks in the Sluice. If ice falls from the Sluice, it can send shrapnel into every nook and cranny of Lunch Rocks. For this reason, Lunch Rocks is not a safe place to sit! You’re better off parking yourself down low in the floor or on the climber’s left side of the Bowl.
  2. Undermined Snow. Currently, this hazard looms largest for those who want to exit the bowl via the Little Headwall. The Little Headwall itself has already collapsed and is an open waterfall. The streambed above is a series of open water holes and weak snow bridges. I strongly recommend taking off your skis and hiking the trail back to Hermit Lake.
  3. Crevasses. This hazard forms as the wintertime snowpack creeps slowly downhill, pulling away from cliffs, rocks, and in places, from itself. These are just beginning to open up, but over the next few days I think we’ll start to see them become more and more problematic. We recommend hiking up the route you plan to descend so you can assess the hazards in advance.

The Sherburne Ski Trail has taken some abuse this past week. Bare spots, rocks, and water ice have all made their appearance, and with the current weather they’re only going to get worse.

We have transitioned to the Lion Head Summer Trail. The winter Lion Head route is now closed. Please avoid using this route to avoid damaging the soil on the steep section of trail. The Summer Trail does have a lot of snow on it. Plan for wet snow and postholing over the next several days.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-03-18 Print Friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, 3-17-2012

This advisory expires at midnight, Saturday, 3-17-2012

All forecast areas of Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

In the ten years or so I’ve been working in the White Mountains, one thing I’ve learned is that every winter is unique in some way. This season is no exception. Not only was every month this winter marked by low snowfall amounts, but the springtime meltout has arrived with force. The past week we’ve already lost dramatic amounts of snow, and we’re just about to begin an intense March heat wave. While today won’t break records, expect to see new high temperature marks set tomorrow and later in the week. Snow stability remains good in the ravines today, though you will probably see some sluffing of wet, mushy snow. Currently the “Big Three” springtime hazards are what you need to be aware of while traveling in either Tuckerman or Huntington this weekend.

  1. Falling Ice. Whether it’s Tuckerman or Huntington doesn’t matter. There is a full winter’s worth of ice melting out of the steep cliffs and gullies, waiting to crash to the floor of the ravines. Through the years, there have been many significant injuries and even fatalities from falling ice. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid spending time in the potential path of icefall, which can happen almost anywhere at this time of the year. In Tuckerman, the most dangerous ice can be found in the Center Bowl as well as directly above Lunch Rocks in the Sluice. If ice falls from the Sluice, you will have nowhere to hide as shrapnel flies all around you. For this reason, Lunch Rocks is not a safe place to sit! You’re better off parking yourself down low in the floor or on the climber’s left side of the Bowl.
  2. Undermined Snow. Currently, this hazard looms largest for those who want to exit the bowl via the Little Headwall. The Little Headwall itself has already collapsed and is an open waterfall. The streambed above is a series of open water holes and weak snow bridges. I strongly recommend taking off your skis and hiking the trail back to Hermit Lake.
  3. Crevasses. This hazard forms as the wintertime snowpack creeps slowly downhill, pulling away from cliffs, rocks, and in places, from itself. These are just beginning to open up, but over the next few days I think we’ll start to see them become more and more problematic. We recommend hiking up the route you plan to descend so you can assess the hazards in advance.

General coverage in Tuckerman is still pretty good, all things considered. Left Gully, the Chute, and left side of the Center Bowl all have decent top-to-bottom coverage. A couple things are not worth your time, such as Lobster Claw, the top of Right Gully, and the Little Headwall. Personally, I’d be looking for two things in my choice of ski terrain today, both are aimed at avoiding bottomless mush. First I’d look to areas where others have compacted the snow through the season. Next I’d head toward runs that are out of the direct sun. Off-the-beaten-track runs and those in the direct sun may have a lot of snow, but you’ll be riding a Slurpee by the end of the day.  Climbing these runs may be a frustrating experience as you punch through, even in places with an existing bootpack.

The Sherburne Ski Trail has taken some abuse this past week. Bare spots, rocks, and water ice have all made their appearance, and with the upcoming weather they’re only going to get worse.

We have transitioned to the Lion Head Summer Trail. The winter Lion Head route is now closed. Please avoid using this route to avoid damaging the soil on the steep section of trail. The Summer Trail does have a lot of snow on it. Plan for wet snow and postholing over the next several days.

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 AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters or the Harvard Cabin.  
  • A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2012-03-17 Print Friendly