The U.S. Forest Service has closed a section of Mount Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine Trail to all use, and officials with the Mount Washington Avalanche Center say they will stop issuing avalanche forecasts for the time being after hundreds of skiers congregated at the ravine on Saturday despite the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, Mount Washington Avalanche Center officials issued a strong rebuke of the more than 400 skiers who were at the ravine the day before.
As a result, officials are taking steps to discourage people from skiing and snowboarding at the ravine.
The U.S. Forest Service announced today that a section of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is now closed to all use.
The closed section extends from Lunch Rocks to the top of the Headwall, where it meets the Alpine Garden Trail. The closure includes skiing and riding the Lip and Sluice.
The section is closed annually by officials for safety reasons, but usually not until well into May.
Forest Service officials say the annual closure is designed to protect the public and rescuers from the hazards associated with the waterfall and crevasses when they begin to emerge. Violating this closure is a misdemeanor offense and will be enforced.
Also, all facilities that provide amenities for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravine are now closed. This includes bathrooms, camping, and all shelter.
Additionally, officials with the Mount Washington Avalanche Center have announced they will no longer provide avalanche forecasts.
In a statement, MWAC officials said “high risk activities such as skiing and climbing in complex avalanche terrain with extreme weather conditions create an unnecessary risk of injury or a need for search and rescue intervention. These injuries could lead to rescues and the opportunity to further spread the virus through close contact.”
“We also acknowledge that the absence of avalanche and mountain safety forecasts increases your risk in the backcountry,” read the statement, “but since backcountry travel is not an essential need at this time of pandemic, you assume this increased risk. We will continue to support local rescue teams with spot forecasts on request.”