Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 4-30-2013

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.

It’s hard to believe we have reached the end of April. While it’s not been a stellar month as far as snowfall goes, the last several days have provided remarkably pleasant conditions on the mountain. This will continue today as warm high pressure continues to dominate the region. Objective mountain hazards should be figured prominently into your travel plans today. These include:

  1. POTENTIAL FOR FALLING ICE. So far we’ve not seen much ice fall to the floor of the ravine or over Lunch Rocks. This means there is still a strong potential for it to happen. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. Minimize the time you spend in areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the headwall or at Lunch Rocks. DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION. 
  2. CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this 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. Falling into one of these holes or breaking through a weak snow bridge could be fatal for you or your friends. To borrow a slogan from a more familiar hazard, friends don’t let friends ski the Lip.
  3. UNDERMINED SNOW. As the snowpack continues to get thinner, we are starting to see this problem emerge. Many gullies have running water in them, which melts away the snow from below. While it may look thick and strong on top, you don’t really know until you step through. The consequences could range from minor annoyance to being swept into an icy water channel. If you see a small hole in the snow, understand that it likely gets larger beneath the surface. A common practice in other mountain ranges is to probe the depth of snow to help locate problem areas. This can be helpful here as well.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at the half way point. 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 Winter Route remains open and offers the most direct access to the summit of Mt. Washington from the east. This is a very steep route and is often more challenging in spring conditions. An ice axe and crampons are highly recommended for this route. The Lion Head summer trail is still closed. Other routes exist and might be good options with weather like today. Get out your map and use it!

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 7:20 a.m., April 30, 2013. 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

2013-04-30 Printable

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 4-29-2013

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.

Good corn skiing conditions continue with warm days and cool nights.  Hopefully, clouds will clear overnight to allow for radiational cooling to freeze the snowpack and help preserve our snow through the warm week ahead and keep things from getting slushy. Skiing and riding traffic created some moguls in Left Gully and sluff channels or runnels in the Sluice and Chute. These may grow in size and number if warming becomes intense. Yesterday, a basketball sized rock narrowly missed several dozen people in the conga line in Left Gully. This hazard can be reduced by not climbing on steep sections of rock which are being exposed and loosened by further melting, especially at the tops of gullies where the snowpack is thinner and loose rocks more abundant. Always assume people may be below you and climb carefully.

Cloud cover, which is forecast for today, will most likely reduce the heating which spawns slushy snow and sluff channels but ambient temperatures in the 40’s F ( 5-10 C) will continue to raise the concern for icefall, continued undermining of the snow near rocks and flowing water as well as weakened edges near developing crevasses. Think hard about how to avoid all these issues by picking your hiking, sitting, and skiing/riding locations very carefully. Large cracks and potential icefall hazards are much more prevalent as you move towards the center of the Ravine from either side. “The Lip” is in the bullseye for having the most dangerous conditions, because of this it is strongly encouraged to avoid this area. We recommend Lobster Claw, Right Gully, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway as locations with less overall risk from objective mountain hazards than others. The Chute can also be approached in such a way to avoid those hazards though the route is about as steep as it gets in Tuckerman and is not recommended for those inexperienced in steep off-piste skiing. We also highly suggest bringing an ice axe and crampons for travel in steep terrain.  Lightweight aluminum points and ice axes can make a climb much more secure and weigh only a pound or so each.  Many people swear by self-arrest ski poles to help slow a fall or to assist in getting your feet below you in a sliding fall.

Today will be warm with a high potential for falling ice. Falling ice is an increasingly common occurrence at this point in the season. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. It’s hard to truly appreciate the seemingly random, unpredictable power of this hazard until you’ve seen it firsthand. Take our advice: Minimize the time you spend in areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the headwall or at Lunch Rocks. DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION. A T-Shirt slogan comes to mind when I see groups gathered at Lunch Rocks or booting together in a line directly beneath a teetering frozen waterfall…something about “never underestimate the stupidity of smart people in large groups”. Make your own travel decisions carefully!

Crevasses are opening up in many areas. The worst of these can be found in the Lip area and Center Bowl. Some are very deep resulting in dire consequences if you fall in.  Many have icy running water  splashing through them, and some are hidden from view by rollovers or a thin bridge of snow. Hillman’s Highway has some undermined snow and an open hole to watch out for. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this by climbing up what you plan to descend.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at the half way point. 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 Winter Route remains open and offers the most direct access to the summit of Mt. Washington from the east. This is a very steep route and is often more challenging in spring conditions. An ice axe and crampons are highly recommended for this route. The Lion Head summer trail is still closed.

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.
  • Posted at 7:40 a.m., April 29, 2013. 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

2013-04-29 Print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday April 28 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.

Yesterday’s weather treated about 2500 people to beautiful day in the mountains.  I didn’t hear one complaint about the sun except forgetting suncreen as many red faces trotted out of the Ravine at the end of the day.  Today will be even nicer with expected summit temperatures climbing over 40 degrees F.  It should become a solar cooker in the Ravines today due to the high pressure firmly installed over the region.   Warmer days with low wind speeds elevate our concerns over the typical spring hazards discussed below.  Think hard about how to avoid all these issues by picking your hiking, sitting, and skiing/riding locations very carefully.  Staying hard to the climber’s left in Left Gully or hard right in Right Gully will not eliminate all risk, but will reduce it substantially from icefall, crevasses, and undermining.  These hazards are much more prevalent as you move towards the center of the Ravine from either side. “The Lip” is in the bullseye for having the most dangerous conditions, because of this it is strongly encouraged to avoid this area. Therefore, we recommend Right Gully, Left Gully, and Hillman’s Highway as locations with less overall risk from objective mountain hazards than others. We also highly suggest bringing an ice axe and crampons for travel in steep terrain. You may never even pull them out of your pack, but it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where they would be very helpful, if not critical to getting up or down a route safely.

This will likely be one of the warmest days of the season so most of our attention is focused on a high potential for falling ice. Falling ice is an increasingly common occurrence at this point in the season. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. It’s hard to truly appreciate the seemingly random, unpredictable power of this hazard until you’ve seen it firsthand. Take our advice: Minimize the time you spend in areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the headwall or at Lunch Rocks. DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE TO SIT AND WATCH THE ACTION. 

Crevasses are opening up in many areas. The worst of these can be found in the Lip area and Center Bowl. Some are are very deep resulting in dire consequences if you fall in.  Many have icy running water  splashing through them, and some are hidden from view by rollovers or a thin bridge of snow. Hillman’s Highway has some undermined snow and an open hole to watch out for. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this by climbing up what you plan to descend.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at the half way point. 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 Winter Route remains open and offers the most direct access to the summit of Mt. Washington from the east. This is a very steep route and is often more challenging in spring conditions. An ice axe and crampons are highly recommended for this route. The Lion Head summer trail is still closed.

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 Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
  • Posted at 7:45 a.m., April 28, 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

2013-04-28 Print Version

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, 4-27-2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural 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.

Today and for the foreseeable future, the weather seems to be cooperating enough to make for enjoyable skiing and riding conditions. We’ll see an increase in the cloud cover today, with a slight chance for afternoon showers. On the positive side of the weather forecast, light winds and warm temperatures should allow snow surfaces to soften up during the day before refreezing this afternoon. Tomorrow the weather looks even better,with sunnier skies and slightly warmer temps. All this good weather might lull you into thinking you don’t need to pack so heavy. Conditions today are starting the day frozen and will freeze up again at the end of today. We recommend bringing an ice axe and crampons for travel in steep terrain. You may never even pull them out of your pack, but it’s easy to find yourself in a situation where they would be very helpful, if not critical to getting up or down a route safely.

Falling ice is an increasingly common occurrence at this point in the season. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. It’s hard to truly appreciate the seemingly random, unpredictable power of this hazard until you’ve seen it firsthand. Take our advice: Minimize the time you spend in areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the headwall or at Lunch Rocks. DESPITE ITS POPULARITY, LUNCH ROCKS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE FOR WATCHING THE ACTION. 

Crevasses are opening up in many areas. The worst of these can be found in the Lip area and Center Bowl. The smallest ones may just trip you up a little, but others are far more dangerous. Some are quite deep, others have icy water splashing through them, and some are hidden from view by rollovers or a thin bridge of snow. Hillman’s Highway has some undermined snow and an open hole to watch out for. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this by climbing up what you plan to descend.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about 1 mile uphill of Pinkham Notch. At the rope, you will 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 Winter Route remains open and offers the most direct access to the summit of Mt. Washington from the east. This is a very steep route and is often more challenging in spring conditions. An ice axe and crampons are highly recommended for this route. The Lion Head summer trail is still closed.

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 Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
  • Posted at 7:45 a.m., April 27, 2013. 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

2013-04-27 Print Version

 

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 4-26-2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. 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.

Every season is a little different, for certain, but right now the weather pattern we’ve been going through feels like any other late April. Warm days and cold nights are the norm, some days the snow is guaranteed to soften, others its more questionable. Today, as temperatures in the ravine easily rise above the freezing mark and with nearly imperceptible winds, I would bet good money that the snow surfaces will be in good shape in a few hours. But, like every other late April, there are showers in the forecast. Don’t be surprised if you get a little wet this afternoon. Take advantage of the time frame after the snow becomes soft and before the clouds move in. Later today we’ll post a Weekend Update with our thoughts on the upcoming weekend.

Falling ice is an increasingly common occurrence at this point in the season. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by icefall in Tuckerman, while countless others have had close calls. It’s hard to truly appreciate the seemingly random, unpredictable power of this hazard until you’ve seen it firsthand. Take our advice: Minimize the time you spend in areas where ice may fall from above you, such as under the headwall or at Lunch Rocks. Despite its popularity, Lunch Rocks is not a safe place for watching the action.

Crevasses are opening up in many areas. The worst of these can be found in the Lip area and Center Bowl. The smallest ones may just trip you up a little, but others are far more dangerous. Some are quite deep, others have icy water  splashing through them, and some are hidden from view by rollovers or a thin bridge of snow. The best way to avoid this hazard is to know where the holes are located, and avoid these areas. You can do this by climbing up what you plan to descend.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about 0.75 miles uphill of Pinkham Notch. At the rope, you will need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. PLEASE do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope as it isn’t built for foot travel, will contribute to the erosion of this trail, and cover you with wet mud. The skiable section of trail is shrinking daily so you may want to leave the trail at an earlier cutoff than where it hangs now above the switchbacks.

Forest Service snow machines have been put away for the year and Snow Rangers are not on the mountain everyday due to other responsibilities on the White Mountain National Forest.  Though we are closely monitoring conditions and are ready to respond to incidents, our response time will be greatly increased.  As always, you need to be ready to initiate and carry out your own rescue effort so be prepared with the knowledge and equipment to effectively help yourself or someone else in your party.

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 Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
  • Posted at 7:10 a.m., April 26, 2013. 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

2013-04-26 Printable

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday, 4-25-2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. 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.

Warm temperatures yesterday produced a bounty of corn snow which bordered on slush on southerly aspects. Overnight, temperatures dropped considerably (currently 21F on the summit) and winds have ramped up to the 60-80 mph (95-130 kph) range with the passage of a cold front.  Yesterday’s corn snow is now refrozen and practically unskiable.  Instead of corn snow, skiers and riders can expect frozen heads of cabbage on a steep, icy slope to be served today with little chance of being warmed by the sun into something rideable. Though winds will drop through the afternoon, it is unlikely that the magic combination of sunshine and warm temperatures will bring the corn snow back into shape for today, though the situation for the weekend looks promising. Yesterday’s warm temperatures (57 F or 14C at Hermit Lake) also sent some ice chunks down slope from the Center Bowl area and  further opened crevasses in the Lip so file this information away as we progress into the spring ski season. The waterfall hole at the Lip is still growing as well so give it, and other melt holes, a wide berth especially when warming conditions return.

Though temperatures will favor the bonding of ice today, continue to be wary of ice hanging over the approach to the Sluice and Center Bowl.  This ice will fall down in large chunks that roll unpredictably and with surprising speed.  Don’t linger at Lunch Rocks or on the floor of the ravine in these run out zones.  Hanging out under the ice is a game of Russian roulette.  Some days there are more rounds in the chamber than others but why play those odds at all if you don’t have to. Choose your routes carefully to reduce exposure to this hazard.

Crevasses have opened and will continue to open as our snowpack creeps downhill.  The slab of snow marking the climber’s right edge of last Friday’s wet slab avalanche has a developing crack near the top. This slab is unsupported and is close to 6′ thick on a slope approaching 50 degrees. Though an avalanche here is unlikely, it is not impossible.   Crevasses are forming in the Sluice, Lip and Center Bowl areas. These slots can be deep and have been the scene of many accidents in the past, some of which were fatal. Give the crevasses and areas around any ice a wide berth.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about 0.75 miles uphill of Pinkham Notch. At the rope, you will need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. PLEASE do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope as it isn’t built for foot travel, will contribute to the erosion of this trail, and cover you with wet mud. The skiable section of trail is shrinking daily so you may want to leave the trail at an earlier cutoff than where it hangs now above the switchbacks.

Forest Service snow machines have been put away for the year and Snow Rangers are not on the mountain everyday due to other responsibilities on the White Mountain National Forest.  Though we are closely monitoring conditions and are ready to respond to incidents, our response time will be greatly increased.  As always, you need to be ready to initiate and carry out your own rescue effort so be prepared with the knowledge and equipment to effectively help yourself or someone else in your party.

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 Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
  • Posted at 8:00 a.m., April 25, 2013. 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

2013-04-25 Print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday April 24th 2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely except in isolated terrain features. 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.

As the spring season moves along it’s all about timing and location.  Whether you’re buying a house or playing in the mountains you need to know your real estate to stay on top.  First, consider the timing.  Watching the weather forecasts from day to day is one of the best ways to help yourself enjoy good spring ski conditions rather than hiking up into an icy *&%#$@.   As an example let’s look at today’s conditions. Temperatures on the summit have been rising slowly over the past 24 hours and are already above freezing.  The Ravines are even warmer, sandwiched between cold air aloft and cold air down low at Pinkham Notch.  Temperatures should continue to crawl higher today which will help soften overall snow conditions, particularly south facing slopes as the sun peaks out through the clouds.  However, as a cold front approaches from the west temperatures will fall rapidly tonight, changing the associated frontal moisture from rain to light snow.  The mercury should continue to fall tomorrow likely keeping surface conditions very hard.  This is a classic scenario that plays out through the spring.  Although isolated icy conditions can exist on warmer days, monitoring the forecasts and executing your timing can help substantially to avoid one of our greatest hazards-long sliding falls!  Falls are a serious hazard and many past incidents have turned out very badly, but you are in complete control to prevent this potential accident. Between timing the temperatures and snow hardness relationship, having the skills to use your mountaineering ax and crampons, and staying within the limits of your climbing ability given the conditions can all greatly mitigate this fall hazard.

As you time temperatures for softer snow realize warm conditions are increasing our other hazards.  So although these hazards have an inverse timing relationship you can start using location choice to protect yourself.  As conditions warm the risk of falling ice, undermined snow, and developing crevasses all grow so keeping yourself away from these issues is critical.

Be wary of ice hanging over the approach to the Sluice and Center Bowl.  This ice will fall down in large chunks that roll unpredictably and with surprising speed.  Don’t linger at Lunch Rocks or on the floor of the ravine in these run out zones.  Hanging out under the ice is a game of Russian roulette.  Some days there are more rounds in the chamber than others but why play those odds at all if you don’t have to. Choose your routes carefully to reduce exposure to this hazard.

Crevasses have opened and will continue to open as our snowpack creeps downhill.  The slab of snow marking the climber’s right edge of last Friday’s wet slab avalanche has a developing crack near the top. This slab is unsupported and is close to 6′ thick on a slope approaching 50 degrees. Though an avalanche here is unlikely, it is not impossible.   Crevasses are forming in the Sluice, Lip and Center Bowl areas. These slots can be deep and have been the scene of many accidents in the past, some of which were fatal. Give the crevasses and areas around any ice a wide berth.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about 0.75 miles uphill of Pinkham Notch. At the rope, you will need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. PLEASE do not walk or attempt to ski down this muddy trail below the rope as it isn’t built for foot travel, will contribute to the erosion of this trail, and cover you with wet mud.

Forest Service snow machines have been put away for the year and Snow Rangers are not on the mountain everyday due to other responsibilities on the White Mountain National Forest.  Though we are closely monitoring conditions and are ready to respond to incidents, our response time will be greatly increased.  As always, you need to be ready to initiate and carry out your own rescue effort so be prepared with the knowledge and equipment to effectively help yourself or someone else in your party.

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 Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
  • Posted at 7:30 a.m., April 24, 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

2013-04-24 Print Version

 

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday, 4-23-2013

This advisory expires tonight at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is not posted. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington for the remainder of 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.

It was a long time coming this season, but we’re actually into a solid corn cycle right now. This is contributing to a very stable snowpack, so other hazards take center stage over avalanches at this time. The freezing overnight that allows this cycle to continue makes the snow surfaces very firm until they can soften up with the day’s warmth. Not only are they firm and icy, but the texture is very rough. Falling on this surface not only results in rapid acceleration, but it can scrape away deep layers of skin in short time. Long sliding falls are a serious hazard, but you are in complete control when it comes to the ability to prevent an accident. Having the skills to use the appropriate mountaineering equipment to keep you on your feet and on the slope, and staying within the limits of your climbing ability given the conditions at the time you’re there will help you mitigate the sliding fall hazard.

Be wary of ice hanging over the approach to the Sluice and Center Bowl which has held on tenaciously through a few warm days over the past weeks.  This ice will fall down in large chunks that roll unpredictably and with surprising speed.  Don’t linger at Lunch Rocks or in the floor of the ravine, it just isn’t worth it when sitting on your pack or another rock somewhere out of the fall line is an easy option. Hanging out under the ice is a game of Russian roulette.  Some days there are more rounds in the chamber than others but why play those odds at all if you don’t have to. Choose your routes carefully to reduce exposure to this hazard.

Crevasses have opened and will continue to open as our snowpack creeps downhill.  The slab of snow marking the lookers’ right edge of last Friday’s wet slab avalanche has a developing crack near the top. This slab is unsupported and is close to 6′ thick on a slope approaching 50 degrees. Though an avalanche here is unlikely, it is not impossible. If it does slide you don’t want to be anywhere near it. Additionally, the snowpack has begun to pull apart as it slowly creeps downhill. Crevasses are forming in the Sluice, Lip and Center Bowl areas. These slots can be deep enough to create a significant fall hazard and have been the scene of many accidents in the past, some of which were fatal. Give the crevasses and areas around any ice a wide berth.

Forest Service snow machines have been put away for the year and Snow Rangers are not on the mountain everyday due to other responsibilities on the White Mountain National Forest.  Though we are still closely monitoring conditions and are ready to respond to incidents, our response time will be greatly increased.  As always, you need to be ready to initiate and carry out your own rescue effort so be prepared with the knowledge and equipment to effectively help yourself or someone else in your party.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about 0.75 miles uphill of Pinkham Notch. At the rope, you will need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. PLEASE do not walk or attempt to ski the trail below the rope–it isn’t built for foot travel and you will contribute to the erosion of this 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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
  • Posted at 7:30 a.m., April 23, 2013. 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

2013-04-23 Printable

Avalanche Advisory for Monday, 4-22-2013

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is not posted. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington for the remainder of 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.

Light winds and clear skies will allow snow to soften mid-day today.  Aspects directly in the sun will ripen first with shadier aspects like Chute and Left Gully not softening as much if at all. Heating through the day may be intense enough that maintaining an edge and managing your sluff may become difficult on steep areas of sloppy snow. Be wary of ice hanging over the approach to Sluice and the Center Bowl which has held on tenaciously through a few warm days over the past weeks.  This ice will fall down in large chunks that roll unpredictably and with surprising speed.  Don’t linger at Lunch Rocks or in the floor of the ravine, it just isn’t worth it when sitting on your pack or another rock somewhere out of the fall line is an easy option. Hanging out under the ice is a a game of Russian roulette.  Some days there are more rounds in the chamber than others but why play those odds at all if you don’t have to. Choose your routes carefully to reduce exposure to this hazard.

Crevasses have opened and will continue to open as our snowpack creeps downhill.  The slab of snow marking the lookers right edge of Friday’s wet slab avalanche has a developing crack near the top. This slab is unsupported and is close to 6′ thick on a slope approaching 50 degrees.  Whether this slab will melt in place, be triggered by a skier or release naturally is anybody’s guess. Though an avalanche here is unlikely, it is far from impossible. If it does slide you don’t want to be anywhere near it. Additionally, the snowpack beneath all of the frozen waterfalls, but especially the Sluice, Lip and Center Bowl areas, has begun to pull away from the ice.  These slots can be deep enough to create a significant fall hazard and have been the scene of many accidents , some of which were fatal, in the past. Give the areas around any ice a wide berth since where there is ice, there is or will be flowing water which undermines snow and generally creates the potential for serious trouble.

Forest Service snow machines have been put away for the year and Snow Rangers are not on the mountain everyday due to other responsibilities on the White Mountain National Forest.  Though we are still closely monitoring conditions and are ready to respond to incidents, our response time will be greatly increased.  As always, you need to be ready to initiate and carry out your own rescue effort so be prepared with the knowledge and equipment to effectively help yourself or someone else in your party.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about 0.75 miles uphill of Pinkham Notch. At the rope, you will need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. PLEASE do not walk or attempt to ski the trail below the rope–it’s not built for foot travel and you will contribute to the erosion of this 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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
  • Posted at 7:45 a.m., April 22, 2013. 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

2013-04-22 Print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Sunday, 4-21-2013

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Your best bet for finding good quality snow to ski or ride today will be to postpone your trip for a day. OK, I understand that’s not always possible, so if you’re reading this at one of the posting sites on the mountain, keep reading to get a sense of what you’ll be facing today. The forecast for Monday is looking pretty good, so if you have the opportunity to put it off a day, you will see better conditions.

Current conditions this morning in Tuckerman are very slick and icy. Yesterday I watched skiers and riders struggle to get there edges to bite into the rain crust. Even in lower-angled terrain, many of these people failed at this and ended up sliding to the bottom of the bowl. Thankfully only a few were injured. In large part I believe this is because people recognized the problem and chose not to climb very far up the slope. Since the snow surfaces have only frozen harder overnight, taking the conservative approach is a good idea for today. Falling in steep terrain today will result in rapid acceleration unless you arrest your fall immediately. You can improve your odds by using an ice axe and crampons, but even highly skilled mountaineers would find it difficult to stop once a fall has happened. These are the conditions where roped climbing techniques are far more appropriate than the traditional skis over the shoulder kickstepping.

Later in the day, there is hope for softening snow on south-facing aspects such as Right Gully or Lobster Claw. Temperatures are forecasted to remain well below normal for this time of the year, so it may not happen at all. The best we can hope for is that the winds calm down quickly and the rain crust reacts quickly to the solar energy. Aspects that only receive morning sun, e.g. Hillman’s or Left Gully, are unlikely to soften unless temperatures go above what is forecasted.

FALLING ICE is a concern today. Recent warm temps and rain have weakened the bonds that hold the ice to the rock faces. Dark colored rock can warm and melt ice even on cold days, which can send it crashing down unexpectedly. You can help yourself by avoiding icefall zones, such as the middle floor of the ravine and near Lunch Rocks, or minimizing your exposure time if you do go there.

CREVASSES/OPEN HOLES have been growing. The Lip is a great area to avoid. The waterfall is open, there are crevasses growing on either side, there is a deep avalanche crown line, and the waterfall has punched another hole in the snow down low in the Lip, to the lookers left of the Open Book area. Hillman’s Highway has a spot that resembles a ice waterslide leading down into a dirty icy slot. You do not want to fall into this hole! Other areas to avoid include the Little Headwall and the stream leading out of the ravine. Also expect problems near any exposed rocks, where moats may have been created from the snowpack’s downhill creep.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about a half mile uphill of Pinkham Notch. At the rope, you will need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot. Do not walk the ski trail below the rope–it’s not built for foot travel and you will contribute to the erosion of this 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 Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, or the AMC at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center or Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:30 a.m., April 21, 2013. 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

2013-04-21 Printable

Avalanche Advisory for Saturday, 4-20-2013

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Over this past week, Tuckerman Ravine has changed quite a bit. Melting conditions, though not excessively hot, took a toll on many locations. Yesterday, these changes were taking place before our very eyes. Hillman’s Highway sprung a leak just above the dogleg, the Lip waterfall opened up and triggered a wet slab avalanche, friends reported booting through running water up high in the Chute, and the stream bubbled up through the floor of the ravine near the bottom of Left Gully, running over the top of the snow. And this was all before the rain fell last night!

Today’s weather is not looking good for springtime recreation. Temperatures will be falling through the day and winds will remain strong. This will create a situation where the snowpack will be freezing from the surface layer downward. There is currently a lot of heat and moisture in the snow, which means the snow beneath the developing ice crust will be soft and mushy. I can already hear my knee ligaments screaming at me to take it easy today.

SLIPPERY TRAIL CONDITIONS should be expected today. Where there had been snow and slush there is now clean water ice, like the great Zamboni in the sky cleaned it all off in preparation for a new day. Traction devices such as microspikes and ski poles are recommended for travel to the bowl.

UNDERMINED SNOW is a significant concern today. As mentioned, many areas had water running beneath the snowpack. The snow that bridges these streams has been weakened in the past several days. You do not want to be the reason for one collapsing. In many cases you’ll simply be wet and uncomfortable, but in the worst case you may be swept  underneath a channel in the ice. Today, I have yet to see the area in the bowl where water was percolating through, but nevertheless I recommend staying well away from this area.

FALLING ICE is another concern. Warm temps and rain have weakened the bonds that hold the ice to the rock faces. Although today’s temperatures are going to fall below freezing, there is still going to be a chance for icefall to take place. If visibility is poor, you stand little chance to see it coming, let alone protect yourself somehow. Minimize the amount of time you’re in icefall zones, such as the middle floor of the ravine and near Lunch Rocks.

CREVASSES/OPEN HOLES have been growing. Yesterday’s avalanche area and the Lip itself is a great area to avoid. The waterfall is open, there are crevasses growing on either side of the Lip, and the waterfall has punched another hole in the snow down low in the Lip, to the lookers left of the Open Book area. Other areas to avoid include the Little Headwall and the stream leading out of the ravine. Also expect problems near any exposed rocks, where moats may have been created from the snowpack’s downhill creep.

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 at 7:10 a.m., April 20, 2013. 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

2013-04-20 Printable

Avalanche Advisory for Friday, 4-19-2013

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman Ravine has LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

A General Advisory is currently issued for Huntington Ravine. We are done issuing daily avalanche forecasts for Huntington for the remainder of the season. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

Clearing but windy conditions will dominate the daylight hours with SW winds in the 55-75 mph (90-120 kph) range diminishing slightly in the early afternoon.  Gusty conditions through the day and possibly thunderstorms in the evening due to a cold front passing will challenge those camping or caught out late. Rain will accompany this cold front and may be heavy at times. Though recent warm weather with sporadic refreezing has yielded a snowpack resistant to avalanching, there are many other hazards to be aware of including the following:

  1. Factor the possibility of FALLING ICE into your travel plans. The annual process where all the ice that formed during the winter crashes down has begun. Rain and warm temperatures make the problem worse.  We know it will happen, the question is exactly when. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are faster than  chunks of ice sliding and bouncing erratically down the snow. Lunch Rocks and the floor of the ravines are directly in the path of falling ice. There have been many significant injuries, as well as at least one fatality, due to this hazard. Creative planning can keep you safer by giving ice fall runouts a wide berth. The waterfall at the Lip is now melted out and flowing a significant volume of water which creates a deep and dangerous slot.
  2. Stay clear of CREVASSES. We have yet to see much of this problem yet, but they have begun to form in the upper Lip area as well as a couple of other isolated locations. Warm temperatures will cause the snowpack to creep downslope, which opens up deep cracks in the snowpack. These grow large enough for a climber or skier to fall into, and often they can’t be seen from above. The best way to know about this hazard is to climb up your intended descent route. If you see cracks in the snow, stay well away from the edges. Be aware of slots opening at the bases of cliffs as well as beneath frozen waterfalls which will continue to run water due to rain and warm weather. Probing ledges of snow near rocks with your ski pole is often a good idea.
  3. Avoid UNDERMINED SNOW and the Little Headwall. Right now this issue is mostly found in the streambed leading out of the ravine and on the Little Headwall. The Little Headwall has a large open hole in the steepest part of the route.  This hole has grown in the last couple days, and is threatening to collapse further. The same can be said for the snow bridges in the streambed above the Little Headwall.  We don’t recommend skiing out from the bowl. Hiking out on the trail is a faster and safer option.

Tomorrow marks the day of the Inferno Race. Tomorrow’s weather will create a new set of hazards due to falling temperatures. Be sure to check weather forecasts at the Mount Washington Observatory and National Weather Service as well as our Weekend Advisory, which we will post later this afternoon, for further details. Remember that there are no facilities open on the summit and no other option for descent other than traveling under your own power.

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 at 8:00 a.m., April 19, 2013. 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

2013-04-19 Print friendly

Avalanche Advisory for Thursday 4-18-2013

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

As far as avalanche danger is concerned, we’re about as low as you can go right now. The reason for this is the rain we had earlier this week, which was followed by a light overnight freeze, and then a warm day yesterday and a freeze last night. This warm-cold cycle has a few names, such as a corn cycle or melt-freeze cycle, but the impact is the same. It helps to eliminate the layering in the snowpack, which leads to very good stability. Since the avalanche problem isn’t going to occupy precious and finite mental energies, we want you to put your available resources into the other ways you can stay safe today:

  1. Be aware of falling ice. The annual process where all the ice that formed during the winter crashes down into the Bowl has begun. Rain and warm temperatures make the problem worse.  We know it will happen, the question is exactly when. It’s your job to be aware of the hazard and have a plan in mind for what you’ll do when you see that dishwasher sized chunk of ice rocketing at you. Lunch Rocks and the floor of the ravine are directly in the path of falling ice.
  2. Stay clear of crevasses. We have yet to see much of this problem yet, but they have begun to form in the upper Lip area as well as a couple other isolated location. Warm temperatures will cause the snowpack to creep downslope, which opens up deep cracks in the snowpack. These grow large enough for a climber or skier to fall into, and many times they can’t be seen from above them. The best way to know about this hazard is to climb up your intended decent route. If you see cracks in the snow, stay well away from the edges.
  3. Avoid undermined snow and the Little Headwall. Right now this issue is mostly found in the streambed leading out of the ravine and on the Little Headwall. The Little Headwall has a large open hole in the steepest part of the route.  This hole has grown in the last couple days, and is threatening to collapse further. The same can be said for the snow bridges in the streambed above the Little Headwall. Yesterday I said to use caution if you decide to ski out from the Bowl; after seeing what I saw yesterday, I cannot recommend skiing out from the bowl. Hiking out on the trail is a faster and safer option. If you go this route and need to take off your skis or  board, you will likely encounter nasty postholing conditions.

The weather forecast for the next few days is an interesting one. If you’re planning a trip to the ravine for the weekend, for fun or for the Tuckerman Inferno race, I’d encourage you to closely monitor the higher summits forecasts put out by the Observatory and the NWS. We’re expecting tropical temperatures Friday with warm monsoon-like conditions late day and overnight, followed by a cold front that will cause temperatures to plummet during the day Saturday. I don’t foresee strong clearing conditions on the mountain until Sunday and Monday. It’s a good weekend to put away the small backpack in favor of the larger one so you can carry enough extra dry layers and comfort foods.

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 at 8:00 a.m., April 18, 2013. 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

2013-04-18 Printable

Avalanche Advisory for Wednesday 4-17-2013

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely.

It’s looking like today will turn out to be a pretty good day on the mountain, but you don’t need to rush uphill to get the goods before they’re gone. Instead, re-read the weather forecast, have a second cup of coffee, and wait for winds to diminish and the snow to soften up. Last night Mt. Washington received a little under a half inch of rain, which was followed by freezing temperatures up in the ravine. This is a great way to stabilize the snowpack and drop avalanche hazard to the low end of low. While it helps a lot with snow stability, it creates other problems that you’ll need to be prepared for, such as:

  1. Long sliding falls. For many people, steep icy slopes are more manageable once the skis are on their feet. However, you’ve got to climb up one way or another. We highly recommend bringing an ice axe and crampons for safety on the way up, especially on days like this where the snowpack will start out very hard and icy. Later today south-facing slopes will hopefully soften up and make this less of a concern.
  2. Falling ice. The annual process where all the ice that formed during the winter crashes down into the Bowl has begun. Rain events like last night and sun and warming like we’ll see today make the problem worse. We know it will happen, the question is exactly when. It’s your job to be aware of the hazard and have a plan in mind for what you’ll do when you see that dishwasher sized chunk of ice rocketing at you. Lunch Rocks and the floor of the ravine are directly in the path of falling ice.
  3. Crevasses. We have yet to see much of this problem yet, but it’s going to start to make an appearance soon. Warm temperatures cause the snowpack to creep downslope, which opens up deep cracks in the snowpack each season. Many times these can’t be seen from above them. The best way to know about this hazard is to climb up your intended decent route.
  4. Undermined snow. Right now this issue is mostly found in the streambed leading out of the ravine and on the Little Headwall. The Little Headwall has a large open hole in the steepest part of the route.  This hole has grown in the last couple days, and is threatening to collapse further. The same can be said for the snow bridges in the streambed above the Little Headwall. Use caution if you decide to ski out from the Bowl. Hiking out on the trail is a faster and safer option.

We’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately about overall conditions in the ravine. Generally we’ve got good snow coverage right now. It’s certainly better than this time last season. Most runs are filled in from top to bottom. Remember that snow quality changes quickly though. We currently have the Sherburne open to the bottom, it’s full of moguls, bare patches and very thin spots. A few days of warmth and rain can quickly eat away at the remaining snow down low, forcing us to hang the “trail closed” rope at various points. We’ll do our best to keep you posted for changes when they happen. Also of note is the 2013 Tuckerman Inferno is this Saturday, hosted by Friends of Tuckerman Ravine.

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 at 8:00 a.m., April 17, 2013. 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

2013-04-17 Printable

Avalanche Advisory for Tuesday 4-16-2013

This advisory expires at 12:00 midnight.

Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines have LOW avalanche danger. Natural and human triggered avalanches are unlikely, but watch for unstable snow in isolated terrain features.

I’m finally feeling the onset of spring in the air. In part that’s because it’s currently colder at Pinkham than at Hermit Lake, but both are warm. Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day in Tuckerman with most routes getting fairly heavy ski traffic. As expected, our concerns with stability of the most recent snow diminished most quickly on the sunny side of the  Bowl, such as in the Sluice and Lip. In many areas you can see where the ski tracks cleared away the fresh snow and left behind the gray colored older surfaces.

The temperatures have been above freezing in the ravine since yesterday. A cold front is passing today that will drop the cloud layer, kick up the wind velocities, and provide some afternoon rain showers, but it will not be cold enough to drop temps below freezing until after dark. Overall stability is good today, with a noteworthy exception that you should be aware of. In some areas where the new snow was able to collect more deeply, the heat may have not yet fully penetrated the snowpack. This would leave weakening wet slabs sitting on top of a weak mixture of dry snow and graupel. This problem will be isolated in nature, and there is a good chance that it won’t fracture out as a large slab. However, the nature of the terrain in which you may find this problem is such that you wouldn’t want even a small wet sluff to grab your skis or board and carry you downslope. Just imagine trying to swim through wet concrete while being pulled down a slope like Central Gully in Huntington. The piles at the bottom could be deep enough for burial, as well. I think this issue is isolated and will produce small avalanches or wet sluffs, but be heads up about it nevertheless.

Warm temperatures this week have gotten me thinking about the ANNUAL SPRINGTIME HAZARDS, such as FALLING ICE, UNDERMINED SNOW, and CREVASSES. These issues are going to be on display more and more in the coming weeks. Do your homework online to learn about these issues, or if you’re on the mountain and have questions, ask a Snow Ranger, volunteer ski patroller, or caretaker for information.

The Little Headwall has an open hole on skier’s right side below the steepest part of the route.  This hole has grown in the last couple days, and is threatening to collapse further. The same can be said for the snow bridges in the streambed above the Little Headwall. Use caution if you decide to ski out from the Bowl. Hiking out on the trail is a faster and safer option.

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 at 8:00 a.m., April 16, 2013. 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

2013-04-16 Printable