General Bulletin for Tuckerman Ravine

This is the final bulletin issued by the Mount Washington Avalanche Center for the 2016-17 season. This will remain in effect until complete melt out. Travel in the backcountry requires careful snow evaluation and mountain sense. Hazards due to snow and ice will persist until it is all gone. Snowstorms on Mount Washington in June may be uncommon, but are not unheard of. If venturing into the mountains, be sure to use all available resources to help plan your trip and make safe travel decisions.

TRAIL CONDITIONS

  • The summer Lion Head Trail is open and provides the most direct route to the summit of Mount Washington from Pinkham Notch.
  • A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed through the Bowl. This section extends from Lunch Rocks to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This closure is due to the severe and possibly fatal consequences of a fall in this area. This also means that skiing or riding the Lip is not allowed. This section of trail will remain closed until the snow disappears. Check in with one of the visitor centers or the caretaker at Hermit Lake for the current status.
  • The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed for the season.

MOUNTAIN HAZARDS

  • Falling Ice and Rocks: While the most notorious pieces have already fallen down this spring, smaller pieces of ice linger and will continue to present a threat until the snow is gone. As the snow recedes this time of year, rocks are often dislodged. Overhead assessment and safe travel techniques will help to mitigate this hazard.
  • Crevasses: As the snow pulls away from cliffs, these glide cracks open and have swallowed many people over the years. These are best given a wide berth. The largest of these cracks are obvious while those smaller in size may be harder to see and therefore can often present more of a hazard.
  • Holes and Undermined Snow: The snowpack melts both on the surface and from beneath. As this hollowing takes place, unpredictable collapses will occur. Some are more obvious like the famous snow arch near Lunch Rocks but others are less so, like a sudden hole appearing in the floor of the Ravine.

This season was a time of significant change for our avalanche center. Thank you to everyone for lending a hand when needed. Frank Carus became the director and we were fortunate to add Ryan Matz to the team. We were also lucky to have part-time help from Joe Klementovich, Justin Preisendorfer, Brian Johnston, Dan Corn, and Alexa Siegel. Thank you all for donning a green jacket and spending time with us on the hill. A huge thank you goes to the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol for all the time they donate. Thank you also to the AMC caretakers at Hermit Lake and the Harvard Cabin caretakers for collecting daily weather data, providing SAR response, and being partners in the field. In addition to this, a thank you goes to all of you for reading our advisories, providing us with your observations, and coming to this special place. We look forward to seeing you in November at the Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:00 am on Monday, May 29, 2017.

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

2017-05-29

General Bulletin for Saturday, May 27, 2017

This bulletin will expire at Midnight on Monday, May 29, 2017.

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

As high pressure builds over New England on Saturday, skies should clear as the day progresses. An inversion may keep clouds over mid-elevations with a slight chance of precipitation, but this should be limited to the morning. Sunday will see clearer skies overall with temperatures reaching close to the 50sF. A system arriving Sunday night will likely bring rain on Memorial Day.

The summer Lion Head Trail is now open and is the preferred route to the Summit from Pinkham Notch. A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail in the Bowl is closed to all use. This section is from Lunch Rocks to the junction of the Alpine Garden Trail and is due to the severe consequences of a fall in this area. Only this section is closed. Hiking or skiing in the vicinity of the closed trail, including the Lip, is not permitted. ATTENTION AUX RANDONNEURS! Une section du sentier du Tuckerman Ravine est présentement fermé à toutes les activités.  Cette section est située entre Lunch Rocks et le sommet du Headwall jusqu’où ce dernier rejoint le sentier du Alpine Garden. Cette fermeture inclut également toute activité de descente dans le secteur du Lip. Seulement cette section du sentier est fermé. Cette fermeture annuelle est due à l’ampleur des crevasses et à la gravité qu’occasionnerait une chute dans ce secteur.

Please be aware that while the Lion Head Summer Trail is open, snow will be encountered on the route. Appropriate equipment should be carried. The following typical mountain hazards are also in play:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Meltwater running under the snow creates hollow spaces potentially bridged by thin snow that can easily break under the weight of a person. With the 1.5” of rain that fell over the past 48 hours, snow will be hollower than it appears. In places, this might mean a wet foot or a minor fall, while larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water and look for small holes in the snow surface.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS), WATERFALL HOLES, AND MOATS: Many of the largest, deepest cracks continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. Give these plenty of space. A fall into one could be fatal. Moats around rocks are widespread through the terrain. While the cracks in the Lip and Center Bowl are obvious and should ward all away, pay close attention to the smaller cracks forming now in the Sluice and Chute. While maybe not as deep, these can cause trouble if taken lightly when compared to the more obvious hazard in the Headwall.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: While the calendar may say Memorial Day, there is ample snow coverage on a multitude of slopes. Long, sliding falls can turn ugly this time of year as the snow coverage no longer extends into the runout zones. Crashing into a boulder at high speed while have dire consequences. Use appropriate equipment for your chosen route of travel. In places, this includes microspikes, crampons, and your ice axe.

The Sherburne Ski Trail is closed. Please hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Pinkham Notch.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:00 am on Saturday, May 27, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-27

General Bulletin for Wednesday, May 24, 2017

This bulletin will expire at Midnight on Friday, May 26, 2017.

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

The high pressure that provided generally clear skies yesterday is forecast to hold through much of today, but a wet low pressure system will approach late today or tomorrow. Temperatures will trend slightly lower through Friday but should remain above freezing in our terrain. Rainfall is forecast to begin in light amounts late today and continue into Thursday, with intensity increasing into Friday when we could see heavy rain. This morning is likely the most pleasant opportunity to play in Tuckerman Ravine in this bulletin period.

The summer Lion Head Trail is open and remains the preferred route to the Summit from Pinkham Notch. A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail within the Bowl is closed to all use. This section is from Lunch Rocks to the junction of the Alpine Garden Trail and is due to the high consequence fall hazard presented by many large glide cracks in the snow. Hiking or skiing in the vicinity of this closed section, including the Lip, is not permitted. The rest of this trail remains open. ATTENTION AUX RANDONNEURS! Une section du sentier du Tuckerman Ravine est présentement fermé à toutes les activités.  Cette section est située entre Lunch Rocks et le sommet du Headwall jusqu’où ce dernier rejoint le sentier du Alpine Garden. Cette fermeture inclut également toute activité de descente dans le secteur du Lip. Seulement cette section du sentier est fermé. Cette fermeture annuelle est due à l’ampleur des crevasses et à la gravité qu’occasionnerait une chute dans ce secteur.

Please be aware that snow and ice travel is still required on the summer Lion Head Trail and significant long-sliding falls are possible on the snowfield traverse near treeline. An ice axe, crampons, and the ability to use them effectively are recommended. The following typical mountain hazards are also in play:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Rainfall later this week will increase meltwater running under the snow which creates hollow spaces. Potentially bridged by thin snow which can easily break under your weight, this could result in as little as a wet foot or minor fall, but larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water and look for small holes in the snow surface, realizing that these hazards can be tricky to identify.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS), WATERFALL HOLES, AND MOATS: Many of the largest, deepest cracks continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. These cracks are often wider than they appear or bridged by thin snow. A fall into one could be fatal, give these plenty of space. Glide cracks are widespread from the Lip to Chute, as well as isolated locations elsewhere. Moats around rocks can be found throughout the terrain.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: Even with rain creating sloppy snow, long falls should be taken into consideration. Be prepared for this with an ice axe and crampons for anything above tree line, and always consider the terrain below you and the associated consequences of a fall. Microspikes are very helpful in low angle terrain, but are no substitute for crampons if it’s steep.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at Hermit Lake. Please hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Pinkham Notch.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:45 am on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-24

General Bulletin for Monday, May 22, 2017

This bulletin will expire at Midnight on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

Low pressure swinging through New England will bring rain through Monday and into Tuesday morning. With warmer temperatures and sunshine on Tuesday, our snowpack will continue to dwindle without an overnight freeze. Another low pressure system should arrive to the region on Tuesday night, likely bringing more rain on Wednesday.

The summer Lion Head Trail is now open and is the preferred route to the Summit from Pinkham Notch. A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail in the Bowl is closed to all use. This section is from Lunch Rocks to the junction of the Alpine Garden Trail and is due to the severe consequences of a fall in this area. Only this section is closed. Hiking or skiing in the vicinity of the closed trail, including the Lip, is not permitted. ATTENTION AUX RANDONNEURS! Une section du sentier du Tuckerman Ravine est présentement fermé à toutes les activités.  Cette section est située entre Lunch Rocks et le sommet du Headwall jusqu’où ce dernier rejoint le sentier du Alpine Garden. Cette fermeture inclut également toute activité de descente dans le secteur du Lip. Seulement cette section du sentier est fermé. Cette fermeture annuelle est due à l’ampleur des crevasses et à la gravité qu’occasionnerait une chute dans ce secteur.

Please be aware that snow and ice are still a concern on the summer Lion Head Trail and significant long-sliding falls have happened on the snowfield traverse near treeline. An ice axe and crampons and the ability to use them effectively are recommended. The following typical mountain hazards are also in play:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Meltwater running under the snow creates hollow spaces potentially bridged by thin snow that can easily break under the weight of a person. In places, this might mean a wet foot or a minor fall, while larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water and look for small holes in the snow surface. Forecast rain will accelerate this undermining as streams swell.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS), WATERFALL HOLES, AND MOATS: Many of the largest, deepest cracks continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. Give these plenty of space. These cracks are often wider than they appear or bridged by thin snow. A fall into one could be fatal. Moats around rocks are widespread through the terrain. Glide cracks are widespread from the Lip to Chute and are deep enough to fall into.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: Even with rain creating sloppy snow, long falls should be taken into consideration. Be prepared for this with an ice axe and crampons for anything above tree line, and always consider the terrain below you and the associated consequences of a fall. Microspikes are very helpful in low angle terrain, but are no substitute for crampons if it’s steep.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at Hermit Lake. Please hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Pinkham Notch.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 6:00 am on Monday, May 22, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-22

General Bulletin for Saturday, May 20, 2017

This bulletin will expire at Midnight on Monday, May 22, 2017.

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

Cooler conditions have returned to the Ravines and brought a refreeze to the snowpack. Warming temperatures and sunshine, today and through this weekend, will soften snow and bring good, albeit limited skiing conditions to Tuckerman Ravine. Top to bottom runs are limited mostly to Hillman’s Highway and Left Gully.

The summer Lion Head Trail is now open and the preferred route to the summit from the east side. A section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed to all use. This is due to the severe consequences of a fall in this area. The closed section extends from the top of Lunch Rocks to the junction of the Alpine Garden Trail above the ravine. Only this section is closed. Hiking or skiing in the vicinity of the closed trail is not permitted. (ATTENTION AUX RANDONNEURS! Une section du sentier du Tuckerman Ravine est présentement fermé à toutes les activités.  Cette section est située entre Lunch Rocks et le sommet du Headwall jusqu’où ce dernier rejoint le sentier du Alpine Garden. Cette fermeture inclut également toute activité de descente dans le secteur du Lip. Seulement cette section du sentier est fermé. Cette fermeture annuelle est due à l’ampleur des crevasses et à la gravité qu’occasionnerait une chute dans ce secteur.)

Please be aware that that snow and ice are still a concern on the summer Lion Head Trail and significant long-sliding falls have happened on the snowfield traverse near treeline. An ice axe and crampons and the ability to use them effectively are recommended. The following typical mountain hazards are also in play:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Meltwater running under the snow creates hollow spaces potentially bridged by thin snow that can easily break under the weight of a person. In places, this might mean a wet foot or a minor fall, while larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water, look for small holes in the snow surface, and consider that our gullies drain meltwater and can hold such a hazard.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS), WATERFALL HOLES, AND MOATS: Many of the largest, deepest cracks continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. Give these plenty of space. These cracks are often wider than they appear or bridged by thin snow. A fall into one could be fatal. Moats around rocks are widespread through the terrain. Glide cracks are widespread from the Lip to Chute and deep enough to fall into.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: Generally firm snow with areas of concealed buried ice crusts provide varied travel conditions that can easily allow a significant fall. Be prepared for this with an ice axe and crampons for anything above tree line, and always consider the terrain below you and the associated consequences of a fall. Microspikes are very helpful in low angle terrain, but are no substitute for crampons if it’s steep.

The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at Hermit Lake. Please hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Pinkham Notch.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 6:45 am on Saturday, May 20, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-20

Smarter, Safer Spring Skiing: Part 6

What will they think if I don’t send this line?

We all have some desire for Acceptance from our peers, and it often influences the decisions we make. This desire can vary in its source as well as how and when it manifests itself. Inevitably, it helps drive our choices when playing in the mountains. Social Acceptance is the sixth and final heuristic trap of this decision making series.

Heuristic traps, introduced in Part 1 of these human factor posts to The Pit, are mental shortcuts often resulting in common decision-making flaws that can be identified in skiers, snowboarders, climbers, and others who travel through snow covered mountains. We can’t turn them off, but we can acknowledge and actively counter these flaws. Our desire for acceptance is no exception.

The partners you ski, snowboard, or climb with are often the primary driver of the Acceptance heuristic trap. Hopefully you actually like the folks who you travel with in the mountains, so as a result maintaining their acceptance is probably of value to you. Disappointing these peers is rarely our intent, and we would often prefer to impress them. The stronger the desire to impress, the greater the influence of this heuristic trap.

New backcountry partner? You certainly want to show them your best stuff. How about someone you have a romantic interest in? Men do bold things in an attempt to impress women. While gender is not an absolute driver in this stereotypical scenario, it’s tough to ignore this glaring flaw common in male decision making. Regardless of your romantic preferences, the accidents inevitably resulting from an increase in risk taking behavior rarely impress anyone.

In a highly social and often crowded backcountry ski setting like Tuckerman Ravine, you might also be motivated to gain acceptance from people you don’t know. On busy days, this is obvious. We even have a cheering crowd. These motivations are closely tied to perceived norms of how we can and should ski or snowboard on steep slopes. As discussed in Part 5, we often look to the example others set for an indication of how to conduct ourselves. These examples might be someone you just watched ski in person, but the action sports media is another primary driver of our perceived norms. We’re inundated with footage of people pushing the envelope.

The Acceptance heuristic trap can manifest itself in a number of ways. When planning a trip, our perceived norms might influence a group to develop high-risk objectives. More importantly, you could suppress concerns about a particular plan in effort to please the others in your group. This act of not voicing a concern is problematic in the field, naturally. If you feel uneasy with a situation but don’t speak up, there is a very strong chance that desire for social acceptance is driving your behavior. Noticing a risk while staying silent and watching it happen isn’t of much benefit to anyone. This also contributes to the Commitment to a goal heuristic trap, our tendency to stick to established plans.

In the big picture, seeking acceptance can lead us to obvious hazards, like skiing a no-fall zone in bulletproof ice conditions, ripping powder turns on an avalanche prone 38 degree slope when a High danger rating has been issued, or simply hucking your meat off a big cliff. We can easily recognize these hazards, but social pressure might prevent us from speaking up or altering plans. At a more nuanced level, our desire for Acceptance might urge us towards pushing to faster speeds or choosing a more aggressive, high consequence line. FurtherFurthermore?, remember that as mental shortcuts, it’s common to be unaware of the influence of heuristic traps on any decision.

The indirect motivation for Acceptance though social media cannot be ignored. While outdated these days, the meaning behind the term “Kodak Courage” is as relevant as ever. We’ve already established our propensity to do bold things to impress just small numbers of people; impressing large numbers of people can easily provide even stronger motivation. With smartphones, cameras and direct access to social media are nearly everywhere we go. It’s tough to not record your backcountry exploits.

With potentially wide ranging sources from which we seek approval, countering the Acceptance heuristic trap requires a diverse approach. First, as always, we must acknowledge that this heuristic trap does indeed influence us, that none of us are immune to it. Second, seek to identify your specific source or sources of social pressure. Constantly question your motivation to travel in the mountains, particularly the details of how and where you like to travel. Chances are you’re not motivated by the experience alone. You probably want others to know about your Dodge’s Drop descent.

Prior to a trip, consider who you plan to travel with and associated social dynamics. Have you skied in the backcountry with them before, or are they new partners? Is it a date? It’s crucial to understand their acceptable level of risk and how it might affect yours. Accordingly, be aware of your motivation to impress these people. As plans formulate, consider the inspiration of the trip, or if you’re motivated by the photos or video that you’ll post to social media.

In the field is when your decision making flaws will play out, and these themes continue. Question how and where you are actually travelling. Are you going along with an uphill route because you don’t want to be the one to second guess another’s decision? The same can be said for the descent, or even where you take breaks. If the alarm bells are going off in your head, but you say nothing, your desire for acceptance is probably at play. Accordingly, consider your group’s communication. If limited or without much meaningful discussion of present hazards, this should serve as a warning sign. Finally, is there a camera, and what potential audience might you be trying to impress with your bold actions?

Our desire for Acceptance is just one of the six F.A.C.E.T.S. heuristic traps, each with the potential to make or break your day or even life when you ski, snowboard, or climb in the backcountry. Familiarity addresses the potential for hazards to go unnoticed when we’re in terrain we know well. Acceptance from our social peers can lead to excessively bold action. Commitment to a goal can limit ability to realize safer options. Blind trust in a more experienced partner characterizes the Expert Halo. The desire for fresh Tracks and associated scarcity of snow allows subconscious risk perception sacrifices. Finally, Social proof helps us feel safer when following the example of others, regardless of actual hazards present.

These heuristic traps should only be pieces of your human factor puzzle. This overall process of risk assessment and resulting travel decisions is essential to your longevity in the mountains, unless you’re incredibly lucky. From planning, to the up track, to the descent, and finally the beer in the parking lot, ask yourself and your group how you could be wrong. Better yet, acknowledge that you ARE wrong about some safety element and seek to discover it. Remember, we inherently look for the “Go” or “Yes” decision, otherwise we’d never leave the couch. One hundred percent safety is impossible in the backcountry, but we could all be a little safer. The art of saying “No” isn’t easy, but it might lead to the highest quantity of good skiing in the long run.

General Bulletin for Thursday, May 18, 2017

This bulletin will expire at Midnight Saturday, May 20, 2017.

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

On Mother’s Day through the following morning, the summit received 33” (83cm) of new snow. Hermit Lake received just 10” (25cm, 25% density) during the same period of time. Warming temperatures and rain on Monday led to rapid settlement with two reports the following day of medium sized but harmless, human-triggered loose, wet avalanches in the sloppy snow. Currently, the new snow is virtually indistinguishable from the old surface. The melting will continue today with capricious spring weather. Expect record breaking high temperatures today near 60F on the summit with winds gusting to 85mph and thunderstorms developing Thursday night. Temperatures will fall through Friday, possibly bringing a freeze to the snowpack on Friday night which would set the stage for improved skiing conditions on Saturday. Both weekend days are forecast to be sunny and in the 40’s F.

 The summer Lion Head Trail is now open. Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. Please use the summer Lion Head trail if going to the summit from Pinkham. Please be aware that that snow and ice are still a concern on this trail and significant long-sliding falls have happened on the snowfield traverse near treeline. An ice axe and crampons and the ability to use them effectively are recommended. The following typical mountain hazards are also in play:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Meltwater running under the snow creates hollow spaces potentially bridged by thin snow that can easily break under the weight of a person. In places, this might mean a wet foot or a minor fall, while larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water, look for small holes in the snow surface, and consider that our gullies drain meltwater and can hold such a hazard.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS) AND WATERFALL HOLES: Many of these large, deep cracks have formed and continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. Give these plenty of space. These cracks are often wider than they appear or bridged by thin snow. A fall into one could be fatal.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: Generally soft, wet snow with areas of concealed buried ice crusts provide varied travel conditions that can easily allow a significant fall. Be prepared for this with an ice axe and crampons for anything above tree line, and always consider the terrain below you and the associated consequences of a fall. Microspikes are very helpful in low angle terrain, but are no substitute for crampons if it’s steep.

Top to bottom runs are limited mostly to Hillman’s Highway and Left Gully though it is still possible to thread the needle through the glide cracks in Chute. Lower Right Gully is also skiable but there are lots of rocks in the runout.  The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at Hermit Lake. Please hike down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Pinkham Notch.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 8:25 am on Thursday, May 18, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-18

General Bulletin for Monday, May 15, 2017

This bulletin will expire at midnight on Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

On Sunday, 12” of new snow fell at Hermit Lake, with 4-6” more falling today. New snow, increasing winds and warming temperatures will create the potential for natural avalanches in many areas in Tuckerman Ravine. This includes the summer Lion Head Trail between Hermit Lake and treeline. The Lion Head Winter route is once again the safer route to the summit. Though significant melting has occurred since winter, there are ample bed surfaces remaining on the east side of Mount Washington that will allow avalanches large enough to bury and kill a person to occur. Today, wind from the North around 60 mph will load slopes with a south facing aspect and cross-load easterly aspects with wind slabs. As temperatures warm today and into Tuesday, precipitation will transition to freezing rain and then rain which will stress these wind slabs, making them more sensitive to human triggering and increasing the chance of natural wet slab avalanches.

Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. Please use the Winter Lion Head Route if going to the summit from Pinkham. In addition to the avalanche hazard, new and wind blown snow will conceal the numerous and large crevasses and moats that across the steep terrain. Realize that the following hazards are still in play if you are headed up this week:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Meltwater running under the snow creates hollow spaces potentially bridged by thin snow that can easily break under the weight of a person. In places, this might mean a wet foot or a minor fall, while larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water, look for small holes in the snow surface, and consider that many relatively low areas like our gullies drain meltwater and can hold such a hazard.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS) AND WATERFALL HOLES: Many of these large, deep cracks have formed and continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. Give these plenty of space. These cracks are often wider than they appear or bridged by thin snow. A fall into one could be fatal.

The Little Headwall is no longer passable and descending from the Bowl should be done via the hiking trail. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is skiable again below Hermit Lake. Snow coverage of a foot or more at Hermit Lake tapers to nothing at Pinkham Notch. Please use a crossover and hike down to Tuckerman Ravine Trail when the snow runs out.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 8:00 am on Saturday, May 13, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-15

Sick Hiker, 5/11/17

A pair of hikers departed Pinkham Notch headed for the Mount Washington Summit at 9:00 AM. At 3:00 PM, USFS Snow Rangers were notified that the hikers had called 911 via their cell phone. One of the pair was reported to be vomiting and unable to hike, while the other had no reported issues. The pair accurately relayed their location, the Lion Head trail several hundred feet below its junction with the Tuckerman Ravine trail, at 5,600 feet in elevation. One Snow Ranger responded to the incident from the Summit, via auto road vehicle transport by Mount Washington State Park staff. One AMC Hermit Lake caretaker proceeded to the scene on foot from Hermit Lake. Both arrived at 5:00 PM, by which time the subject had ceased vomiting and presented fatigue as a chief complaint. Following the provision of food and water, the subject felt strong enough to proceed on foot to the Mountain Washington Summit for vehicle transport down the auto road.

Analysis: The party stated that they had received information on potential trails to the Mount Washington Summit from the AMC Pinkham Notch front desk staff. Through this information and their own judgment, they concluded that the Winter Lion Head route would be a reasonable ascent and descent option. The hikers did not have crampons, an ice axe, and mountaineering boots as we recommend for this route, but were able to ascend the steep mixed conditions of snow, ice, mud, and wet rock on the Winter Lion Head route. Given the timeline of their day, we can assume this was quite a challenging experience for the pair.

For the relatively warm conditions of the day, the party had sufficient clothing to keep warm. Their sneakers, cotton, and lack of an insulated puffy jacket would have greatly increased the potential consequences of the incident had the weather been more in keeping with the harsh conditions the mountain is famous for.

They brought relatively small amounts of food and water, though, and continued uphill until almost out of both. The subject of the incident appears to have been primarily a victim of the “bonk”, which is to simply deplete the body’s stored sugars faster than they are being replenished by eating. Further, the party left themselves with little food to fuel their descent. Inexperienced hikers are quite prone to this issue, overlooking the massive caloric demands of ascending and descending 4,000 feet on foot in challenging wintry conditions. The amount of food one eats in a relatively sedentary day can easily be half or less than the food needed when strenuously hiking for long durations. It’s important to remember that frequent food and water intake is equally crucial to maintaining physical strength though a full day. Think eating every hour rather than every few hours.

Maintaining the strength to move yourself through the mountains, and all the way back to the car, is absolutely crucial to avoiding incidents like this one. While the subject suffered no injuries, inclement weather combined with the not uncommon delay or lack of rescue response could have created a dire situation. While we’re always happy to help you to safety, never count on a rescue. Your body is the best means of transportation in remote environments, and proper fueling is crucial to maintaining this ability.

General Bulletin for Saturday, May 13, 2017

This bulletin expires Monday, May 15, 2017

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new advisory will be issued when conditions warrant or within 72 hours. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

The Lion Head Winter route is now closed. The summer Lion Head Trail is now the preferred route to the summit of Mount Washington from the east side. This trail crosses steep snow slopes above significant cliffs in spots. As always in wintry ground conditions, crampons and ice axes and appropriate footwear are recommended equipment. Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is also closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. Please use the summer Lion Head trail if going to the summit.

Warm temperatures in the low 40’s with light southeast wind on the summit will make Saturday the better day of the weekend for skiing and hiking with plenty of snow remaining in Left Gully and Hillman’s Highway. Saturday afternoon will bring thickening clouds as the next precipitation moves in overnight bringing with it rain and slushy snowfall at higher elevations on Sunday. Sunday will be a washout with up to an inch and a half of rain predicted to fall by Monday. Be on the lookout for the following if you are headed up to ski:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Meltwater running under the snow creates hollow spaces potentially bridged by thin snow that can easily break under the weight of a person. In places, this might mean a wet foot or a minor fall, while larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water, look for small holes in the snow surface, and consider that many relatively low areas like our gullies drain meltwater and can hold such a hazard.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS) AND WATERFALL HOLES: Many of these large, deep cracks have formed and continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. Give these plenty of space. These cracks are often wider than they appear or bridged by thin snow. A fall into one could be fatal.
  • FALLING ICE AND ROCK:While much of the ice high in Tuckerman Ravine has fallen or melted at this point, this hazard is not entirely eliminated. The freeze/thaw cycles continuing to occur will cause some rock and icefall, particularly during warm or rainy conditions.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: Firm old snow surfaces conceal buried patches of ice in places making for varied travel conditions that can easily allow a significant fall. Be prepared for this with an ice axe and crampons for anything above tree line, and always consider the terrain below you and the associated consequences of a fall. Microspikes are very helpful in low angle terrain, but are no substitute for crampons where it’s steep.

The Little Headwall is no longer passable and descending from the Bowl should be done via the hiking trail. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at Hermit Lake. Please respect the closure and hike down to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 8:00 am on Saturday, May 13, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-13

General Bulletin for Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Unless updated this bulletin expires at Midnight, Friday, May 12, 2017.

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

Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. This closure includes the Lip area, which presents numerous hazards to the recreating public and potential rescuers alike. This area is closed to all use.

Temperatures will trend slightly higher each day through Friday, with cloud cover and precipitation potential decreasing as well. Today will remain just below freezing on the upper mountain. Light snowfall over the past two days has not been sufficient to form unstable slabs of much significance in our terrain. Minimal snow accumulation forecast for the next three days limits our avalanche concerns, but the current cold weather should motivate you to consider the possibility of such winter hazards, in addition to those present in springtime:

  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: Largely firm surface with pockets of soft new snow provide varied travel conditions that can easily allow a significant fall. Be prepared for this with an ice axe and crampons for anything above tree line, and always consider the terrain below you and the associated consequences of a fall. Microspikes are very helpful in low angle terrain, but are no substitute for crampons if it’s steep.
  • UNDERMINED SNOW: Meltwater running under the snow creates hollow spaces potentially bridged by thin snow that can easily break under the weight of a person. In places, this might mean a wet foot or a minor fall, while larger holes with significant flowing water can be of much greater consequence. Listen for flowing water, look for small holes in the snow surface, and consider that many relatively low areas like our gullies drain meltwater and can hold such a hazard.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS) AND WATERFALL HOLES: Many of these large, deep cracks have formed and continue to grow, particularly in Lip and Center Bowl. Give these plenty of space. These cracks are often wider than they appear or bridged by thin snow. A fall into one could be fatal.
  • FALLING ICE AND ROCK:While much of the ice high in Tuckerman Ravine has fallen or melted at this point, this hazard is not entirely eliminated. The freeze/thaw cycles continuing to occur will cause some rock and icefall, particularly with the warmer temperatures forecast later in the week.

Due to steep snow presenting a significant fall hazard on the summer trail, the Lion Head Winter Route remains open. The Little Headwall is no longer passable and descending from the Bowl should be done via the hiking trail. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about a third of the way down. Please respect the closure and hike down to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail rather than trying to ski rocks and mud.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 8:00 am on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-10

General Bulletin for Monday, May 8, 2017

Unless updated this bulletin expires at Midnight, Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

 

A General Bulletin is in effect for Tuckerman Ravine. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments. A new bulletin will be issued within 72 hours or when conditions warrant. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine.

Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and its junction with the Alpine Garden Trail. This closure includes the Lip, which presents numerous hazards to the recreating public and potential rescuers alike. This area is closed to all use.

An upper level low pressure system is moving over New England. This is slow moving and will promote cool and wet conditions for the duration of this bulletin. Temperatures should remain below freezing on the Summit with wind shifting between the N and W and speeds staying below 30mph. The snowpack will become firm with new snow covering some hazards. Forecast snow totals vary, but it seems likely that by the end of Wednesday it will be close to 3” of new snow.

  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: With temperatures falling into the teens F today and tonight, long, sliding falls will present a serious hazard. Be prepared for travel with crampons and an ice axe. Microspikes are useful on low angled terrain, but are not appropriate for steeper slopes.
  • CREVASSES AND WATERFALL HOLES: The Lip and Center Bowl are now riddled with large cracks. Other slopes have smaller crevasses that are often wider and deeper than they appear from the surface, and can be thinly bridged with snow. Falling into the larger of these could be fatal. Give these cracks a wide berth to reduce your exposure to this significant hazard.
  • UNDERMINED SNOW: As meltwater flows under the snowpack, it can start to hollow out the snow above. While there are many areas that contain undermined snow, below freezing temperatures will make breaking these thin bridges less likely. With that in mind, new snow over the next few days may cover small holes or very thin spots. Plunging through a hole into water over the next few days will be unpleasant.
  • FALLING ICE: Temperatures below freezing reduce this hazard, but it is one always to keep in the back of your mind. Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by falling ice. The most hazardous locations are in the center and right side of the ravine, including Lunch Rocks, the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl. Avoid spending time in the fall line of the ice in these areas.

The Lion Head Winter Route remains open. Crampons and an ice axe should be brought for this route. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at crossover #7. Skiing below Hermit Lake may be more frustrating than fun and is slower than hiking, but new snow over the next few days may provide some entertainment. Please respect the rope at #7 and hike down to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail rather than trying to ski rocks and mud.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:40 am on Monday, May 8, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-08

Smarter, Safer Spring Skiing: Part 5

A bunch of people already skied it… It’s pretty safe, right?

Well, maybe not. We’ve all made decisions based on this logic. A particular slope that you’ve just watched others ski without mishap might be relatively devoid of hazards, but what if those skiers were just lucky? Use of Social Proof to make decisions in the mountains is yet another heuristic trap:  a mental shortcut that helps us skiers and climbers make the “go” decisions we inherently seek.

This week’s post to The Pit will focus on our use of Social Proof, the “S” in the F.A.C.E.T.S. heuristic traps. Familiarity, Acceptance, Commitment to a goal, Expert Halo, Tracks or scarcity, and Social Proof are the six key decision making flaws we make in the mountains. Remember, none of us are immune to these particular mental shortcuts; we must acknowledge and actively counter them to minimize their influence over our decisions.

We tend to look to the example of others for clues as to how we should conduct ourselves. It’s our herding instinct. Often, this sort of decision making serves us well. If people made deadly decisions most of the time, the human population wouldn’t be growing. The reality is that some people make deadly decisions some of the time. When backcountry skiing, it’s difficult to discern which stranger is setting the best example to follow. If you do pick out who you want to follow, you’re slipping dangerously close to the Expert Halo heuristic trap. Again, think independently!

Take avalanche danger on a particular slope for example. The strength of a cohesive slab of snow and its bonding to the layer below it are not uniform across that slope. For this reason, certain points are more sensitive to a human trigger than others. It’s entirely possible and even likely in some cases that a number of people could ski an unstable slab of snow and miss these weak points. It can easily be the third, the fifth, or the tenth skier who finds the weak point and triggers the avalanche. Tracks on a slope do not equate to stability! The person scoring first tracks does have a higher likelihood of triggering an avalanche than subsequent travelers, but not by much.

The same can be said for most conditions-dependent mountain hazards. Often, through some combination of good decision making or luck, many people will travel through an area safely before conditions become just right for the big accident. This time of year, icefall exemplifies such a hazard and is present in parts of both Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines. Until the ice above Lunch Rocks comes down, anyone in that area is directly below a hazard that could easily kill numerous people in a few seconds. Lounging at Lunch Rocks is Social Proof at its finest: the more people hanging out there, the more inviting it seems to be for spring skiers, even though much safer options exist elsewhere in Tuckerman Ravine.

On top of our herding instinct potentially getting us into trouble, the presence of other people actually increases our risk taking behavior. Among other reasons for this, we feel safer around others and push the envelope a bit more. While people do have some ability to assist in the event of an accident, this isn’t much help if you’re pushing to the point of risking your life. Further, people can create additional hazard, triggering an avalanche or causing any number of things to fall down a slope, including themselves. We’re not suggesting you ski by yourself, but large groups do have the potential to cause more harm than good in a number of ways.

If you ski in Tuckerman Ravine on a sunny spring weekend, there will be plenty of other people around. Countering the Social Proof heuristic trap in this environment can be as simple as asking “Why is everyone on the left side today?” Have they actually found the best option, or can you find a better one? You don’t know their decision making process, so you have no reason to trust it. Make your own observations, use all resources available to you including your friendly Snow Ranger, and form travel decisions amongst your group based on this assessment of potential reward and risk. Don’t forget that part of the Social Proof heuristic trap is our propensity to take greater risk when there are other people around. Would you ski the same line if you were solo? What if it were just you and a friend, rather than you and a thousand other spring skiers? When will you be most at risk? Such questions can help reveal the consequences of a mistake.

Making your own unique decisions will help you manage risk, but it will also provide unique experiences in the mountains, even within the confines of a familiar ravine. That said, the route less travelled is not necessarily the safer option. Countering Social Proof by actively questioning the consensus route is only one of many tools in your decision making kit. Next time you’re out skiing or climbing, use these tools to choose the best line for you.

See you on the hill!

General Bulletin for Saturday, May 6, 2017

Unless updated this bulletin expires at Midnight, Monday, May 8, 2017.

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

Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. This closure includes the Lip area, which presents numerous hazards to the recreating public and potential rescuers alike. This area is closed to all use.

Wet weather is forecast to persist through the weekend, with temperatures trending lower through Monday. Up to a half inch of rain will fall today and tonight. The rain will continue with less total precipitation tomorrow before switching over to snow after dark. Snowfall will taper off with temperatures remaining below freezing though the end on Monday. For this weekend, falling through undermined snow or into a deep crack are your primary hazards which continue to increase in severity across our terrain. These and the rest of the following hazards should be on your mind:

  • UNDERMINED SNOW: If you see small holes in the snow or hear running water, realize snow may be hollow beneath the surface. While the snowpack may appear thick and strong, thin snow may be bridging an air space over a hole that could be large with significant flowing water.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS) AND WATERFALL HOLES. Growing larger in many areas, the most dangerous locations are in the Lip and Center Bowl. They are often wider and deeper than they appear from the surface, and can be thinly bridged with snow. Falling into the larger of these could be fatal. Give these cracks a wide berth to reduce your exposure to this significant hazard.
  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: Warm temperatures will minimize this issue over the next two days, but a refreeze of our snowpack late Sunday and into Monday will provide a firm surface conducive to long sliding falls. Be prepared for this with an ice axe and crampons for anything above tree line, and always consider the terrain below you and the associated consequences of a fall.
  • FALLING ICE AND ROCK:While much of the ice high in Tuckerman Ravine has fallen or melted at this point, this hazard is not entirely eliminated. The freeze/thaw cycles continuing to occur tend to cause both rock and icefall. Continue to be mindful of what is above you, and realize the difficulty that reduced visibility presents in identifying overhead hazards.

Due to steep snow presenting a significant fall hazard on the summer trail, the Lion Head Winter Route remains open. The Little Headwall is no longer passable and descending from the Bowl should be done via the hiking trail. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed about a third of the way down. Please respect the closure and hike down to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail rather than trying to ski rocks and mud.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:30 am on Wednesday, May 3, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-06

General Bulletin for Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Unless updated this bulletin expires at Midnight, Friday, May 5, 2017.

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

Due to open glide cracks and undermined snow, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed in the Ravine between Lunch Rocks and the Alpine Garden Trail. This closure includes the Lip area, which presents numerous such hazards to the recreating public and potential rescuers alike. This area is closed to all use.

Temperatures will remain near the freezing mark until tomorrow morning, with precipitation falling as a mix of snow and rain on the upper mountain. Brief clearing and warming is forecast for tomorrow, with a wet system approaching again on Friday. Temperatures swinging above and below freezing along with the forecast snowfall will cause snow firmness to change quickly. An outside chance of new wind slab development later today is worth considering in your travel plans. The following hazards remain, and generally increase in severity as we push further into spring:

  • LONG SLIDING FALLS: With below freezing temperatures forecast, we will see firm snow conditions ideal for a long sliding fall at times over the next 3 days. Be prepared for this with an ice axe and crampons for anything above tree line and microspikes in lower angled terrain.
  • CREVASSES (GLIDE CRACKS) AND WATERFALL HOLES. These are growing larger in many areas. The most dangerous locations are in the Lip and Center Bowl. They are often larger beneath the surface than what can be seen from above and can be much deeper than they appear. Falling into the larger of these could be fatal. These hazards deserve a wide berth.
  • UNDERMINED SNOW: While the snowpack may appear thick and strong, beware of thin snow that may be bridging an air space. When in doubt probe aggressively with a ski pole or ice axe. If you see small holes in the snow or hear running water, realize there may be open spaces under the surface.
  • FALLING ICE:Over the years many people have been severely injured or killed by falling ice. The most hazardous locations are in the center and right side of the ravine, including Lunch Rocks, the Sluice, Lip, and Center Bowl. Avoid spending time in the fall line of the ice in these areas.

The Lion Head Winter Route remains open. The Little Headwall is no longer passable and descending from the Bowl should be done via the hiking trail. The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed at crossover #7. Beware of construction debris at this crossover. Please respect the rope and hike down to the Tuckerman Ravine Trail rather than trying to ski rocks and mud.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, The Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:30 am on Wednesday, May 3, 2017.  A new bulletin will be issued when conditions warrant.

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

2017-05-03