Anyone who spends time in the mountains knows that avalanches are one of the most serious objective hazards we face. Here the Northeast, our attention to this hazard if often ignored. While there are certainly a number of factors to blame, a lack of awareness is central to this issue. To begin with, avalanche deaths are uncommon in the Northeast. As far back as the records go, there have been 22 avalanche related deaths here in the Northeast. While a majority of these deaths have occurred on Mt. Washington, a number of them have been elsewhere, including places like Mt. Mansfield and Lake Placid. It is important that every mountain traveler take the time to educate themselves on the risks of traveling in avalanche terrain and take the proper steps to educate themselves on how to make informed decisions in the mountains. Find yourself an AIARE Level 1 Course HERE.
Avalanches do occur in terrain outside of Mt. Washington, despite the fact that this is the only forecast area within the Northeast. While the conditions necessary to produce deadly slides are rare, they do occur. Recognizing this terrain, making informed travel decisions, and caring the right emergency equipment is critical no matter what state you are in.
Here is your daily reminder that high consequence avalanches can and will occur throughout the winter months. These photos were taken on Monday, December 19th, following a large rain on snow event that occurred the previous day. Hidden Gully, a moderate and highly popular snow and ice climb in Smugglers Notch, is a perfect example of East Coast avalanche terrain. Large snowfields high in the gully accumulate massive amounts of snow, which, when released, is funneled into the narrow drainage that is used for the approach. Avalanches in this area can easily bury anyone trapped in their path, as evidenced below.
Take the time to get the proper training and take an avalanche course! More importantly, don't venture into avalanche terrain without making informed decisions. Don't become a statistic and have a safe and long winter!