Mount Washington Avalanche Information

Published Dec 2, 2013

Mount Washington Avalanche Information at Pinkham Notch ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Mount Washington Avalanche Information at Pinkham Notch ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Scenic snow-covered hillsides simply don't look dangerous, but they can be deadly during an avalanche.

The US Forest Service's Mount Washington Avalanche Center (MWAC) and the Mount Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol (MWVSP) have combined their efforts to create a life-saving website that increases visitor safety on Mount Washington during the snow covered months.

The MWAC is operated by the Androscoggin Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest. It is the only American avalanche center east of the Rockies and is also the oldest forecasting program in the country.

The Center's public safety priorities are threefold:

  1. The first and main focus from Oct/Nov until the end of May is the daily avalanche advisory for multiple forecast areas in Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines.
  2. Once issuance of the advisory is complete each morning, the priority shifts to the following day's advisory involving field time and data collection. The greatest difference between the MWAC and the 18-sister Avalanche Centers in the West is their responsibility as lead agency authority for Search and Rescue. On December 1st of each year the Forest Service takes over responsibility from the State of New Hampshire for all incidents in the Cutler River Drainage on the east side of Mt. Washington, which includes the entire avalanche forecast area.
  3. The third emphasis is being an avalanche resource for anyone who needs assistance. This entails reviewing university projects, giving talks and slide shows, participating in avalanche courses, assisting reporters, working with our volunteer search and rescue groups, etc.

The US Forest Service is the lead agency in charge of Search and Rescue in the Cutler River Drainage from December 1st to May 31st each year. They maintain a supply of first aid caches throughout the area. They are frequently on duty in the Ravines and are on call during this entire season.

Additionally, they work with several volunteer groups who assist with this effort. Hundreds of volunteers regularly give their time to this cause. It takes a lot of hands to get someone safely down off the mountain. Without these groups, the job would be much more difficult.

Volunteer groups include:

  • Mt. Washington Volunteer Ski Patrol
  • Appalachian Mountain Club
  • Harvard Mountaineering Club
  • Mountain Rescue Service
  • Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue
  • The Mount Washington Observatory
  • SOLO
  • New England K-9
  • Upper Valley Search and Rescue and
  • Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue

We are grateful for all who devote their time and efforts to educate the public about avalanches.

Click Here for Mt. Washington Avalanche Center's Website

Tags: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Appalachian Trail Clubs, and Appalachian Mountain Club

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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