Mountain Safety Notes

2017 Mountain Condition Will be Posted at an appropriate time

The notes below are still from the 2016 race:

Nobody needs reminding that 2016 has been a terrible snow year in the Northeast. Weather conditions on Mount Washington the week before the race are going to be very dynamic and will force some last minute decision making on snow pack conditions and ski course set up right up until race day.

A reconnaissance mission on 04-06-2016 provided a quick update on current conditions. See pictures below.

Mountain Safety Team Support and Planning

Jake Risch and Josh will be heading up early to asses the snow conditions and changes based on Thursday's weather event. We will finalize an on-mountain plan and location for setting the course after that.  

On Saturday all Mountain Safety Team volunteers should be at Hermit Lake by 8am for a safety meeting with the MWAC Snow Rangers.  We'll go over specific assignments and the operations and safety plan for the day.  Racers will be arriving in the bowl by 10:30am.

Weather is the still the wild card right now. Thursday storm is forecasted to drop an inch of water on Mount Washington. What is not clear is what form that water will take. The storm will bring Snow Sleet and Rain to the mountain. The forecasters don't know how much of what type that is going to be.   


Four different scenarios are under discussion for the ski course:

  1. The storm brings mostly rain and Saturday is sunny and warm. Avalanche Danger is Low as is the risk for long sliding falls. Risk for ice fall is higher. In this case we drive on with the operational plan for the Race to run top to bottom in the Left Gully.

  2. Mostly Rain with a deep freeze. Avalanche Danger Low, Long Sliding Fall Risk High, Ice Fall Risk Low. In this case we will set a course starting in the exit of the left gully for 1-2 turns then traverse into the floor of the ravine where we will have a red course and blue course. Red course leads back to the boot pack and Blue course to the finish. Racers would hike to the start; ski the first two gates; and then ski the red course; hike back to the start and ski the same first two gates finishing on the blue course to the finish of the ski leg and race. There would be no pure ski split time. Scorers at the start would have a start roster to check off bibs for lap one and lap two.

  3. Mostly Snow with wind loading into Tucks. In this scenario the avalanche danger is Moderate to High. We would not run the race in avalanche terrain in anything other than low avalanche danger. In this case there is good snow coverage down to the upper cross over on the Sherburne Trail and we were able to ski all the way to the top of the switchbacks on a consistent ribbon of snow. Depending on how much snow we get we will be able to run a "lap or two" on the upper Sherburne. If it is just the upper cutoff we would have the skier ski to the cutover, hike back up and ski a second lap. The tag zone would be at Hermit Lake or on the Sherburne. Again scorers would have to have a roster to check off that racers did two laps. Matt's idea was to mark the bib with a Sharpie when the racer completes one lap and record only the time of racers skiing down with marked bibs. Again under a multi lap scenario there will not be a split time for the pure ski leg.

  4. All snow with snow continuing through Sat AM in the notch and plows out. We would not be able to run bikes up into Pinkham Notch. In this case we would look at either postponing for a day or rerouting the race to Bear Peak.


It's looking good and the weather is trending towards a sunny but windy and cold Saturday. Tomorrow will answer a lot of the unknowns.  


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