Mount Washington closure lifted on east face

  • On March 10, 2015, Greg George, skis in Tuckerman Ravine. The ravine is currently closed due to dangerous conditions. AP file

Conway Daily Sun
Published: 6/10/2020 1:58:15 PM
Modified: 6/10/2020 1:58:05 PM

 The U.S. Forest Service’’s Mount Washington Avalanche Center announced Monday that the closure order of the east-facing terrain on Mount Washington dating back to mid-March has been lifted but that the Tuckerman Ravine Trail remains closed due to dangerous conditions.

The parking lot at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Information Center has been opened, according to the website, mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.

But “there is no camping anywhere in the Cutler River Drainage (on the east side of the mountain), which includes the shelters and tent sites at Hermit Lake. The winter toilets at Hermit Lake and the composting toilets at Pinkham are open, though all other facilities, including the pack-up room and visitor center, remain closed,” noted the USFS post by lead snow ranger Frank Carus, director of the avalanche center.

He added that Monday was his last snow post of the season. He said volunteer rescue resources are currently limited.

“Snow rangers are no longer on site, and law enforcement and/or search and rescue operations may be limited due to COVID-19 issues, so (visitors) should be prepared to perform their own rescue.

“Please seek out the AMC caretaker at Hermit Lake, or the new visitor information window at Pinkham Notch if you need assistance. Dial 9-1-1 for emergencies and be prepared to start your own rescue. It could be a long wait for rescue personnel to arrive, so be prepared,” said Carus.

He said spring ski conditions remain in Tuckerman Ravine, despite the late date. Significant amounts of wind-loading through the winter and consistently below freezing temperatures have kept a significant amount of snow in east-facing terrain.

Crevasses, undermined snow and deep waterfall holes in the Lip and Headwall areas prompted the annual closure of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, now closed to all use.

Carus said this closure will remain until the snow and ice melts off the trail below Sluice. Significant sections of steep snow and ice remain on the summer Lion Head Trail, the shortest route to the summit.

“As usual during most late spring seasons, the best ski options are Left Gully and Hillman’s Highway. These areas contain the most snow and the least hazard and are mostly full length. Look out for the emergence of deep holes, especially in Hillman’s Highway,” said Carus.

He said the ice has fallen out of Sluice and no longer threatens Lunch Rocks though large blocks of snow and even boulders have been falling from steep areas of the Headwall.

“It’s probably best not to turn your back on these hazards, both literally and figuratively. You can find more information on the Lip closure and recent views of skiing options on YouTube,” advised Carus.

He urged skiers and hikers to keep the following hazards in mind as they venture into the backcountry: moats and other deep melt holes, waterfall holes, opening streams and undermined snow, glide cracks, falling ice and rock, avalanches, sliding falls, even short ones.

“Above treeline, much of the snow has melted. Please limit walking to durable surfaces like rocks or snow and ice to preserve the delicate and slow-growing plant communities in the alpine,” said Carus.

For more, go to mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org or call the USFS’ Androscoggin Ranger District at 466-2713 or the AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center at 466-2721; outdoors.org.

(These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.)




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