Avalanche Advisory

Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory
Friday, January 15th 2016 7:00 am by Wendy Wagner
ARCHIVED ADVISORY - All advisories expire after 24 hours from the posting date/time.
Previous ForecastNext Forecast
The Bottom Line

The mountains around Turnagain Pass have a generally LOW avalanche danger at all elevations.

*Remember, "low" does not mean "no" danger. Watch out for shallow wind slab avalanches in very steep and extreme terrain. Also, avoid being under glide cracks and avoid being on, or under, cornices. These hazards can be very manageable as long as they are on your radar.

 Show the Complete North American Avalanche Danger Scale
1 Low Alpine / Above 2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Treeline / 1,000'-2,500' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
1 Low Below Treeline / Below 1,000' Travel Advice: Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features.
Avalanche Problem 1

After the Holiday Storm Cycle pummeled the snowpack, initiated a widespread avalanche cycle and deposited over 10' of snow in places, the snowpack has settled out and is now "generally" stable. This means triggering an avalanche is unlikely, with a few caveats:

1)  Glide cracks and cornices should be avoided. More on these below.

2)  Shallow fresh wind slabs and older lingering wind slabs are the most likely avalanche concern if you are headed to the "steep, gnarly and extreme" terrain around Turnagain Pass. As can be seen in the photos below, anytime there is snow in the mountains, there is always a chance for an avalanche in steep and complex terrain.

3)  Watch your sluff on steep slopes.

Photos below show a shallow wind slab that was triggered by, what looks to be, a snowmachine sized block of cornice (4,000', W aspect in Lynx drainage). This is a good example of steep and complex terrain that may harbor small avalanches but with big consequences if you get knocked off your feet.


Avalanche Problem 2

Numerous glide cracks litter the mid-elevations around Turnagain Pass. These continue to slowly open and although not many have released into full blown glide avalanches recently, they are still VERY much worth avoiding. If your route must take you under these cracks, travel quickly as they are unpredictable beasts and can avalanche at anytime, day or night, cold temperatures or warm. 

Please see these two observations sent in to us yesterday HERE and HERE. These are from folks that toured up and got a first-hand look at the devastation of a glide: "If you have any doubt about how powerful a glide crack avi can be check out the photos!" Quote by Ray Koleser. This particular glide avalanche occurred on the SW face of Lipps roughly one week ago (1/8-1/10).

Photos below taken by Ray Koleser of the Lipps glide avalanche. Looking up at the crown, recent snow has dusted over the bed surface and debris.

Looking down the slope at the debris, yellow line marks the toe of the debris.

Another look at the size of the debris field. This ran over a common area folks congregate to put their skins on.


Below is a time-lapse video taken by Ron Simenhois of a glide avalanche near Juneau. Images are at 5 min intervals and covers about 6 ½ hours in total. If you look closely, you can see the glide crack opening before the avalanche. Yup, these are nothing to mess with.

Additional Concern

With mostly clear skies again today and a generally stable snowpack, don't forget to give cornices an extra wide berth if you are headed for the upper elevations.

Mountain Weather

Valley fog was the topic of the day yesterday. It reached as high as 2,000' in places - but it was sunny above. Ridgetop winds have been light and variable for 3 days now, with the past 24-hours being light out of the East. 

Today, valley fog is expected again but could be a bit more patchy. Skies should remain mostly clear above the fog for the better part of the day with high clouds possible later in the day. Ridgetop winds are forecast to be light from the East then picking up to the 10-15mph range tonight.

For Saturday, a bump in Easterly winds and cloud cover is expected as a large low-pressure system spinning South of the Aleutians makes it way North.


PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am - 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880') 25  83 
Summit Lake (1400') 23 25 
Alyeska Mid (1700') 26  0 61 


RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am - 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812') 23  ENE  14 
Seattle Ridge(2400') 25  N/A  N/A   N/A  

This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area (this advisory does not apply to highways, railroads, or operating ski areas).

Winter snowmachine use open/closed status and riding conditions updates

Riding status is not associated with avalanche danger. An area will be open to motorized use in accordance to the Forest Management Plan when snow coverage is adequate to protect underlying vegetation. Backcountry hazards including avalanche hazard are always present regardless of the open status of motorized use areas.

(Updated: Oct 05, 2019 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: ClosedClosed
Placer River: ClosedClosed
Skookum Drainage: ClosedClosed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedClosed
Twentymile: ClosedClosed
Seward District
Carter Lake: ClosedClosed
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedClosed
Primrose Trail: ClosedClosed
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedClosed. Will be open for the 2019/20 season pending adequate snow cover.
Snug Harbor: ClosedClosed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: ClosedClosed
Summit Lake: ClosedClosed

Subscribe to the Turnagain Area Avalanche Advisory:

The information in this advisory is from the U.S. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. This advisory provided by the Chugach National Forest, in partnership with Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

If you have comments or questions regarding CNFAIC operations or winter recreation management, please email
© 2019 Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center. All rights reserved.