A Warm Weekend on the Way

Rocky Branch Trailhead 2.25.2013
It’s finally March and the warm temperatures of Spring are already here.  It’s currently 30 degrees at AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, and with over a foot of fresh snow in the White Mountains on Wednesday and Thursday, the trails are covered with heavy, wet snow.  The Mount Washington Observatory (www.mountwashington.org) is forecasting temperatures in the mid-teens on the higher summits of the White Mountains for this weekend, with clouds and snow showers likely.  If you’re at lower elevations in the Whites, expect temperatures in the mid 30s, with a chance of mixed precipitation on both Saturday and Sunday.
Beginning of the Sherburne and Gulf of Slides Ski Trails 3.1.2013

The backcountry skiing has been phenomenal this week, with great snow coverage on the John Sherburne, Gulf of Slides, Black Mountain, and Doublehead Ski Trails.  I descended both Black Mountain and Doublehead Ski Trails on Wednesday, and even though a few stream crossings still exist on the Doublehead Ski Trail, the powder turns had me grinning ear-to-ear and were well worth the two treks uphill.  Given the forecast, there is potential for a crusty layer of snow to develop by the weekend, but hopefully the higher elevations will only see the fluffy, white stuff!  Skiing in Tuckerman Ravine or the higher aspects of the Gulf of Slides should be done with caution as hidden hazards still exist beneath a fresh coating of snow.  I highly encourage you to check the Mount Washington Avalanche Center’s website (www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org) before heading out this weekend, for whether you’re skiing, ice climbing, or mountaineering, the Avalanche Advisory is a vital tool to help you travel safely in avalanche terrain.  The Avalanche Advisory and the latest weather from the Mt. Washington Observatory is posted daily at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, so please come in and check out our Conditions and Notices Board, grab any last-minute provisions, and speak with AMC Staff about your itinerary or for suggestions about hikes around the Whites.
The Old Jackson Road Trail (Appalachian Trail) 3.1.2013
Snowshoes are recommended for all hiking trails this weekend in the White Mountains.  Expect 1-2 ft. of heavy, wet snow on top of 2 ft. of hard base snow on unbroken trails.  Light winter traction devices will be sufficient on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail from Pinkham Notch Visitor Center to Hermit Lake Shelters or up to the beginning of the Lion Head Winter Route.  Crampons and an ice axe are highly recommended for the Lion Head Winter Route and for any other steep and technical hiking terrain.

If you want to be out on the trails early this weekend, consider staying at AMC’s Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch, the Highland Center in Crawford Notch, or any of our three backcountry winter huts (Carter Notch, Zealand Falls, and Lonesome Lake).  Don’t hesitate to give our Reservations Department a call at (603) 466-2727 Monday through Saturday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.  

Happy Trails!  I’ll see you on the mountain…


Cormac N. Griffin
Backcountry Information Specialist
Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
Appalachian Mountain Club
Gorham, New Hampshire 03581
(603) 466-8116

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