Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Expires at Midnight, 2-05-2013

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features.

Though the summit reported 2.7” of new snow yesterday and overnight, there is little evidence of it on this side of the mountain.  Sustained winds at 70-80 mph (115-130 kph) yesterday kept the dry snow moving around the mountain and down in Pinkham Notch as well.  I drove through a pretty intense snow devil yesterday morning which for me is a clear indicator that the wind velocity, though not really high by Mount Washington standards, was high enough and also reached down far enough in the atmosphere to move snow even at below-treeline elevations. The Tuckerman Ravine Trail seems to have even less snow than the ¾” (2cm) veneer present yesterday making hiking just as challenging.  “Sitz” marks pepper the trail where brave souls attempted to hike without microspikes or crampons.

Our avalanche danger is on the Low end of Low throughout the forecast areas except for in the very few places where snow managed to accumulate.  The most notable of these locations is the Lip and below the main waterfall in the Center Headwall area where undulating pillows of snow are scattered around between thin spots of hard refrozen crust.  The fresh pillows are still shallow and wind affected enough that it remains in the Low hazard category but I would exercise solid routefinding skills while traveling through these areas, in part primarily due to the potential for hidden ice, but also to avoid areas with potentially unstable snow.  Good sized areas of water ice are spread around the lower reaches of the Lip and Center Bowl, and in both ravines for that matter, and are partially obscured by new snow, making careful assessment of your intended route and effective protection strategies a must for any climber.  It really looks like November or early December in an average year and longer gullies will take extra time due to the lack of easy booting and the need to negotiate sections of rock and ice where snow normally exists.

As for skiing, you will be sorely disappointed in current snow conditions right now.  “Dust on crust” is the reward for those making the journey. The Sherburne is littered with ice chunks, emerging brush as well as debris blown from the trees through the season so far.  In short, the storm track really needs to change.  NOAA 6-10 day outlook indicates the possibility of some changes on the horizon.  For now, I’m keeping my boards in the closet until we get some significant amounts of snow.


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. Posted 8:45 2-05-2013 This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

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

2013-02-05 Print friendly