General > Epics and Accidents

Avalanche in either Tucks or Huntington on Thursday.

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Admin Al:
any details on this? the following was posted on FB by the Observatory:

"We understand that there has been an avalanche in Huntington Ravine, and that the US Forest Service Snow Rangers have been deployed to assess the area. Mount Washington Observatory has not been called upon in any capacity, so unfortunately we are unable to provide any further information at this time. We join with the rest of the White Mountains community in wishing our best to all those involved."

It was in Huntingtons :

Admin Al:
Apparently it was in Huntington Ravine and involved the Ascent Of Honor party. 3 were apparently injured, including the retired Marine doing the climb for charity. I don't know yet what trail/ climb they were on. Reports are that a slab avalanche swept them a long ways. That's all I know right now.

Admin Al:
This is what Thom Pollard posted on FB about the incident:

"Update on our climb: Unfortunately our summit bid was unsuccessful. As we approached the top of Huntington Ravine, a slab avalanche broke loose and swept three of our climbers down to the bottom of the ravine. They were injured, but able to slowly make their way to rescuers, who assisted them off the mountain. The other nine climbers were able to descend and walk out
of the ravine on their own power. While this is certainly not the outcome we had hoped for, we are thankful that all in our party are safely off the mountain. We extend a heartfelt thanks to the US Forest Service and local Mountain Rescue Service personnel for their assistance, and look forward to sharing more details after we all get some rest. Thank you all for your support throughout this project!"

I don't have any more details and I don't want to second guess anyone else's decisions. I'm sure there will be a lot of chatter about it in the coming days. FWIW the posting for Huntington was for Moderate and a lot of folks have varying feelings about what that means. However, the Forest Service Avy Report was right on:

"Due to the slick nature of the old bed surfaces you can expect frequent spindrift sluffing again today perhaps build into slabs on mid-slope benches such as in Odell, Pinnacle and Central.   Because of all this you will probably find some slopes on the upper end of the Moderate rating in several locales in the Huntington gullies."

Admin Al:
This is from this morning's Avalanche Advisory:

--- Quote ---In the last two days, Mt. Washington has received just shy of 6” (15cm) of new snow. 3.6” (9cm) of this fell yesterday, which was greater than the forecasted amounts. During this time, W and NW winds were quite strong, gusting into the 80’s and 90’s mph (130-145kph). These did a great job of moving snow around in the ravines and creating stability problems. One very lucky party was avalanched from the top of Central Gully late in the day as they climbed through this newly deposited soft slab. More details will be posted tonight on our Weekend Update section of our website and on our Search and Rescue page.

Bright blue skies this morning are allowing good visibility, though some new blowing snow is obscuring the very top of Central. This shouldn’t amount to much additional loading during the day, so this fact places the emphasis for today on the potential for human triggers. Currently, lots of old, gray snow is visible with fresh white patches of new windslab scattered around. These areas are in the lee of terrain features that often lower the windspeed enough for wind transported snow to be deposited but also in swales and other irregularities in the snowpack. Expect the usual strong degree of spatial variability as you move around today. Examples of the most windloaded locations include in Central Gully above the ice bulge, in pinch points in Odell and Yale, and all the snowfields in Tuckerman across the Lip and Center Bowl. This is not to say other areas are without hazard, so pay attention even in areas rated Low today.

Winds out of the west yesterday. Other areas to consider are the transitions from steep to flat where sluffing snow has accumulated at the base of ice and rock faces as well as at the near the tops of gullies. Given the rounded nature of our geologically elderly terrain, the tops of gullies are often less pronounced than more youthful mountains. So instead of an obvious overhanging cornice, you may encounter gradually steepening snow which has been deposited in the wind rotor created at the “edge” of the ravine. These areas are also features that you should assess very carefully and possibly avoid.

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