Latest avalanche advisory for Mount Washington’s Cutler River Drainage – Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

This is the final bulletin issued by the Mount Washington Avalanche Center for the 2017-18 season. It 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 both are all gone. Summer snowstorms on Mount Washington are uncommon, but 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.

MOUNTAIN HAZARDS

  • Falling Ice and Rocks: While the largest pieces of ice have already fallen this spring, smaller areas of ice linger and will continue to present a threat until fully melted out. Rocks can also become dislodged and fall as melting ice and snow recedes. Overhead assessment and safe travel techniques will help to manage this hazard.
  • Crevasses (glide cracks): Gravity slowly pulls our deep snowpack downhill as it melts, causing large cracks to open. These cracks present a significant fall hazard. Widespread in the Lip, they develop in much of our terrain and can be surprisingly large and deep.
  • Holes and Undermined Snow: Flowing meltwater can melt the snowpack 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.

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. This section extends from Lunch Rocks in the ravine to the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail above the ravine. The closure is due to severe and possibly fatal consequences of a fall into deep crevasses and holes in the snow. Skiing or riding this area, which includes the Lip, is also not allowed. This section of trail will remain closed until the snow melts from the trail. Check with the visitor’s center or the caretaker at Hermit Lake for the current status.
  • The John Sherburne Ski Trail is closed for the season. You will need to hike all the way from the Bowl or Hillman’s Highway back to Pinkham. The Sherburne Ski Trail is especially muddy this year and needs time to grow the grass and plants that will control erosion.

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.

Thank you to all of our partners and volunteers, including the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol, the AMC and the caretakers at Hermit Lake and the Harvard Cabin, the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine, White Mountain Avalanche Education Foundation, and many others. Thanks to all of you who have volunteered your time or your money to help with projects and rescues. Our mission is to serve the public and we count on support from the community to make that happen. Also, we look forward to seeing you on November 3rd at the Eastern Snow and Avalanche Workshop held again this year at the Performing Arts Center in Fryeburg, Maine. Stay tuned to our social media channels and this website for news, upcoming talks in your region and of course, for avalanche bulletins next fall.

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This bulletin is just one tool to help you make your own decisions. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • For more information contact the Androscoggin Ranger District, the AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • Posted at 7:00 am on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

Frank Carus, Ryan Matz, Helon Hoffer; Snow Rangers
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713 TTY (603) 466-2856

2018-05-20_General

We are no longer issuing daily avalanche advisories for Tuckerman Ravine this season. However, we will continue to provide snowpack and weather information when conditions change. Avalanches, falling ice and rock, snow undermined by water, large glide cracks, and icy refrozen surfaces all remain potential threats until melt out is complete. We are no longer monitoring conditions in Huntington Ravine, but similar hazards will also persist until snow and ice is gone.

The beginning of this week comes with warming weather. Summit temperatures should remain above freezing for the next few days. A weather disturbance could bring clouds, rain, and thunderstorms on Tuesday, with a potential return to sunnier skies by Wednesday. Cooler temperatures are possible later in the week, keeping all of the classic spring hazards listed below relevant this week.

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 area, which presents numerous hazards to the recreating public and potential rescuers alike.

The following hazards have all caused fatalities and should influence your terrain choices:

  •  Long sliding falls: The melt/freeze cycles of spring can make good corn snow when the snow is not frozen. When frozen, the icy snow is makes travel more difficult and can virtually eliminate your ability to arrest a fall. This refreeze can occur remarkably fast, potentially turning a good ski descent into a conditions better served by crampon and ice axe travel.
  • Glide cracks and waterfall holes: As the snowpack gradually gives way to gravity, the slow creep downhill leaves cracks, sometimes called crevasses, in much of our terrain. This is especially prevalent in the Lip, where a large waterfall hole is also present and growing. These cracks and holes will continue to grow. The waterfall area of the Lip has spawned large and destructive wet slab avalanches in the past during periods of heavy rain.
  • Icefall: All ice in the ravines will fall down at some point due to warm weather, often in large chunks that travel at high rates of speed. The center and looker’s right portions of Tuckerman Ravine are most exposed to icefall due to the ice in Sluice and Center Bowl. Lunch rocks is a particularly inappropriate place to linger. Consider than speed is safety when passing under any ice flow.
  • Undermined snow: In addition to melting on the surface, the snowpack is eroded by meltwater flowing beneath. This creates thin snow bridges that will collapse and are most common over streams and in upper portions of south facing gullies. The sound of running water can sometimes be heard under the snow and is a good indicator of this hazard.

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed between Lunch Rocks in the ravine and the junction with the Alpine Garden Trail above the ravine. The significant fall hazard of large glide cracks and waterfall holes result in this annual closure. The Lion Head Summer Trail is now open. Be prepared for a range of conditions including a steep snow slope above a significant fall hazard. Crampons and an ice axe are recommended in firm snow conditions. The Sherburne Ski Trail is now closed due to lack of snow. Plan to hike up and down from Tuckerman Ravine. Skinning is not the option preferred by most any longer.

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.
• 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, the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
• Posted  8:40 AM, Monday, May 14, 2018. 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

2018-05-14-General