Spring Skiing this Weekend!

Mt. Moosilauke from the Beaver Brook Trail 3.26.2013
It's that time of year again... Spring Skiing in the White Mountains!  I skied Wildcat this morning, and the trails were perfect corn snow, great for linking carves and really setting an edge.  The weather forecast for this weekend looks great, with the Mount Washington Observatory (www.mountwashington.org) calling for temperatures on the higher summits tomorrow in the mid teens, with the peaks being in and out of the clouds trending toward clearing under partly sunny skies.  For Sunday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts temperatures on Mt. Washington to top out at 23 degrees Fahrenheit and partly sunny skies.  I expect temperatures in Tuckerman Ravine to be in the 20s over the weekend, which should keep the snow quality high and maintain mid-winter snow conditions in the Ravine as opposed to spring corn snow conditions at lower elevations. The John Sherburne and Gulf of Slides Ski Trails are skiing well top-to-bottom, with good coverage and few hidden hazards.   Despite Spring being officially here, avalanches are still a concern in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines, so please check the daily Avalanche Advisory posted for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines everyday by the US Forest Service Snow Rangers before heading into avalanche terrain, either at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, Hermit Lake Shelters, Harvard Cabin, or online at www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.  Being prepared with a beacon (transceiver), shovel, and a probe are also vital pieces of equipment to have and to know how to use before heading into avalanche terrain.

Beaver Brook Trail (Appalachian Trail) 3.26.2013
That being said, this weekend stands to be a busy one in Tuckerman Ravine, so reserving your space early for Hermit Lake Shelters is advised.  The Pinkham Notch Visitor Center opens at 6:30 AM and you can reserve your space at Hermit Lake Shelters by stopping at the Front Desk and paying the US Forest Service fee of $15 per person, per night.  Alternatively, you can pay the caretaker directly at Hermit Lake, but your space is not guaranteed until you verify your stay with him.  There are only 86 spaces at Hermit Lake Shelters, while an additional 32 spaces are available at Harvard Cabin, which is at the base of Huntington Ravine.  Harvard Cabin is operated by the Harvard Mountaineering Club and 16 spaces are available inside for $15 per person per night, while 16 spaces are available outside for $10 per person per night on hardened tentsites outside (no access to Cabin facilities).  Please fill out the Harvard Cabin register at the Front Desk during our hours of operation (6:30 AM - 9:00 PM) before heading up to the Cabin, and you can pay the caretaker directly when you arrive.

Regarding parking for skiing this weekend, please be advised that there is limited parking at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.  Those planning to ski or climb on Mt. Washington may not be able to find safe, legal parking in close proximity to the trailhead on the busiest  weekend days.  Overflow parking is available south of the Visitor Center in informal lots off both sides of NH Route 16, at the entrance to Glen Ellis Falls, and at the large turn known as "Windy Corner."  Parking along the shoulder of NH Route 16 is prohibited where signed.  Vehicles parking in violation of posted regulations, blocking access ways, or impairing the safe flow of traffic may be ticketed or towed.  NH Route 16 is a major highway with a 55 mph speed limit in this area.  Please use extra caution if walking in a breakdown lane, especially in groups.  Put dogs on a leash and watch your group members closely while walking on the highway.  Please respect that Wildcat Ski area remains open for business through much of spring and while Wildcat is open (and it still is!), Tuckerman skiers should use their "C" parking lot rather than the main parking area near the base lodge.
View to the northeast from Mt. Moosilauke 3.26.2013

Hikers this weekend should be prepared for warm valley temperatures and the 2-4 ft. snowpack susceptible to melting and creating postholes.  Snowshoes are recommended for most trails, while light traction (i.e., Microspikes or Hillsounds) will be helpful for well-packed trails including the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake Shelters.  As always, crampons and an ice axe are recommended for the Lion Head Winter Route if you're headed up to the summit of Mt. Washington, and for any other steep terrain in the White Mountains.

Mt. Moosilauke 3.26.2013
If you have any questions regarding your itinerary, the weather, or the avalanche conditions, don't hesitate to call our Trails Information phone at (603) 466-8116 between 6:30 AM - 9:00 PM everyday.  Give our Reservations Department a call Monday through Saturday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM at (603) 466-2727 if you're interested in staying in Pinkham Notch at Joe Dodge Lodge, at the Highland Center in Crawford Notch, or at one our three backcountry huts (Carter Notch, Zealand Falls, or Lonesome Lake) this weekend.

View to the Franconia Range 3.26.2013
Have a fun and safe weekend.  I'll see you on the mountain,


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

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