Getting Ready for the Weekend

Tuckerman Ravine 3.10.2013
It's the last official weekend before Spring, and it's shaping up to be sunny and cold in the White Mountains.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( forecasts high temperatures on Mt. Washington at 4 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday and Sunday, with light winds on Saturday, but winds gusting up to 80 mph on Sunday. If you're headed above treeline on either day, remember to cover up all exposed skin to prevent frostbite and to bring eye protection.   The Mount Washington Observatory ( is calling for warmer temperatures in the valleys over the weekend, with temperatures in the mid-to-lower 30s Fahrenheit, which should make for great cross-country or downhill skiing.

Garfield Ridge Trail Signpost 3.11.2013
If you're headed to Tuckerman Ravine, or to any other backcountry ski run in the Whites, expect a hard snowpack resulting from a heavy rain event on Tuesday.  The bulletproof conditions will hopefully soften up at the lower elevations this weekend, while caution should be exercised on all of the steeper terrain.  On the approach to Tuckerman or Huntington Ravines, I recommend either ski touring, Microspikes, or any other form of light traction, as the trails are very well-packed.  I recommend crampons and an ice axe for steep ascents whether skiing or mountaineering in Tuckerman or Huntington Ravines, and all other ravines, as well as for the Lion Head Winter Route.  Reading the daily Avalanche Advisory online (, at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, at Hermit Lake, or at Harvard Cabin is one vital tool to help you travel safely in avalanche terrain, in addition to carrying an avalanche beacon (transceiver), a shovel, and a probe.  Currently, the Avalanche rating for both Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines is CONSIDERABLE, which means that natural avalanches are possible and human triggered avalanches are likely, mainly due to the summit receiving 7.2" of low density snow on Thursday with heavy wind loading from the northwest.  Staying up-to-date with the Avalanche Advisory and with the US Forest Service Snow Ranger's Weekend Update before linking ski turns or placing ice tools this weekend will give you a good idea of what the conditions will be like.

The Franconia Ridge from Mt. Garfield 3.11.2013
For hiking, the trails are hard and fast, with about 2 ft. of solid snowpack resulting from Tuesday's heavy rains and current cold temperatures.  Microspikes will be your best bet for footwear, but bringing snowshoes and crampons will certainly give you options for the variable trail conditions.  Steeper and exposed terrain has developed sections of glare ice where crampons and an ice axe will be to your advantage.  Snowshoes will be useful for flotation at lower elevations if the temperatures rise above freezing, or if you like the added security of flotation to avoid frozen postholes created by barebooters over this warm last week.

For trail-side lodging this weekend, consider staying at one of AMC's facilities in the White Mountains.  Joe Dodge Lodge is at the base of Mt. Washington, 2.4 miles from Tuckerman Ravine, and the John Sherburne ski trail brings you right back to the lodge.  There's also the Highland Center in Crawford Notch, or any of our three backcountry winter huts (Carter Notch, Zealand Falls, and Lonesome Lake).  Please do not hesitate to give our Reservations Department a call at (603) 466-2727 Monday through Saturday 9:00 - 5:00 PM.  Give AMC's Trails Desk a call at (603) 466-8116 between 6:30 AM - 9:00 PM, or email us at for answers to your trail questions or for hiking recommendations suited to any age or skill level. 
Garfield Shelter 3.11.2013

Have a great and safe weekend!  I'll see you on the mountain...


Cormac N. Griffin
Backcountry Information Specialist
Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
Appalachian Mountain Club

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