Snow & Avalanche Weekly Summary

Summit Area
Forecaster:   Wendy Wagner  
Saturday, January 24th 2015
Created: Jan 24th 6:55 am
Summary and Current Conditions

The Summit Lake region continues - like much of Alaska - to be starved for snow. Similar to Turnagain Pass, only a couple inches of low density snow cover the ground at the parking lots. The pack is just deep enough for skiing (the dust-on-crust variety) around 2,000' and improves with elevation.

The last observed avalanche activity just was over a week ago and associated with a very warm storm that brought rain to 3,000'. The one exception are two cornice breaks that could be as new as Monday - details on that HERE. The storm moved out last Friday and avalanche activity ceased as the snowpack froze and "locked up" with falling temperatures. A welcome 2-3" of snow fell at this time before a clear and quiet week of weather.

Yesterday and today (Friday and Saturday), another dusting of 2" of new snow has fallen. Below is a rundown and a few photos of the surface conditions you are likely to find if you are headed to the Summit Lake area:

Road level (~1,200') to 1,800': 2" of new light snow over vegetation
1,800' - 2,500': 2-4" of loose old and new snow over 6-12" stout melt-freeze crust
2,500' - 3,500': 3-6+" of loose old and new snow over 1-3+' melt-freeze crust capping a hard and strong snowpack
3,500' and above: No direct information. Likely 5-6" of loose wind affected snow over a hard old 3+' snowpack

Photo below - snow cover at 1,800'

Snowpack at 3,200' on a West facing slope

Primary Concern

During the past week there has been what we call a "normal caution" in the mountains. With just a few inches of loose snow over either ground or a stout crust, the main hazards have been related to early season low snow cover issues such as hitting rocks, catching alders, very slick icy slopes and the like.


Shallow wind slabs in the 5-10" range may be found in the upper most exposed terrain. These are areas around 3,500' and above. Although winds have been relatively quiet, they did bump up from a southerly direction on Thursday to the 15-20mph range. We saw minor wind effect on Friday up to 3,200', however the higher elevation terrain is suspect for harboring wind slabs - which is part of a normal caution routine in the mountains in general.

Mountain Weather

Last week was defined by mostly cool and quiet weather. Ridgetop temperatures were in the low 20's F while a stout inversion dropped temperatures in the valley to the single digits. Ridgetop winds were light and variable with a bump to the 20's mph from the North on Tuesday and another bump to the 20'smph from the South on Thursday.

The most recent snowfall was 1" early on Friday and another 1" on Saturday (today) morning. This has come in with light and variable ridgetop winds and temperatures in the low 20's F.

Looking ahead for this weekend and into the week, we have very cold light northerly flow on tap. This will drop temperatures dramatically, bring clear skies and little chance for precipitation.

Stay tuned to the main weather page for current weather info and as always check the Fresno Ridge weather station, Summit Lake SNOTEL and DOT RWIS stations for the most current weather information at Summit Lake.


This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Summit Lake Area 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: Jan 26, 2015 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: Closed
Placer River: Closed
Skookum Drainage: Closed
Turnagain Pass: ClosedWe are still lacking sufficent snow at highway elevations. Continue to check back here for the latest info on motorized openings on the Chugach National Forest.
Twentymile: Closed
Seward District
Carter Lake: Closed
Lost Lake Trail: Closed
Primrose Trail: Closed
Resurrection Pass Trail: Closed
Snug Harbor: Closed
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Closed
Summit Lake: Closed

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.

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