Snow & Avalanche Weekly Summary

Summit Area
Forecaster:   Heather Thamm  
Saturday, January 30th 2016
Created: Jan 30th 4:29 am
Summary and Current Conditions

Over the last week +12” of new snow has fallen in the upper elevations of Summit Lake. This new snow was accompanied by above freezing temperatures with periods of rain. Moderate to strong NE winds were observed on Jan.27 loading leeward aspects. On Jan.29 the only avalanche activity reported (as seen from the road) was a cornice failure on Butch and several D1 wet loose avalanches.

At this time little information in known about how the snowpack is adjusting to its new load. Cooling temperatures have quickly stabilized the snow at lower elevations where a crust has formed. In the mid to upper elevations be on the look out for a variety of avalanche problems including wind slabs, cornices, loose snow and persistent slabs. Several weak layers have been observed in the snow pack over the last three weeks including buried surface hoar and a facet/crust combo. These concerns warrant extra caution before considering steep terrain.

The forecast for the weekend is calling for cool temperatures, sunny skies and light to moderate winds. Pay attention to changing weather conditions it’s always a good habit to check the Turnagain Pass Advisory.

*Note: The Fresno weather station is still not working, and wind data hasn’t been reliable at Mile Post 45 weather station. This is an additional reason to always look for signs of active or recent wind loading while traveling in the mountains. 

Point Releases on South Aspect of Tenderfoot Ridge, Photo taken on Jan,29th by Alex McLain


Debris from larger avalanche in Incredibowls taken Jan.29th by Alex McLain. Visibility and couldn't see starting zone.

Primary Concern

Moderate to strong Northeast winds deposited snow on leeward features over the last week. Wind slabs could be 1-2’ thick and isolated to steep terrain below ridgelines and on unsupported slopes. Watch for areas with fresh deposits of wind blown snow, look for cracking and avoid pillowed areas that have a hollow feel. There is still snow available for transport Should you see active wind loading,

*With recent snow and wind loading, we can expect cornices to be tender. Remember cornices often break farther back than expected and can add a significant load to the slope below when they fall. Avoid travel on or below them. 



New snow, warm temperatures and moderate Northeast winds made for a wet day on Fresno Ridge on Jan.27th. 



Blocky Cornice blocks could be seen in upper debris. Photo taken on Jan.29th by Alex McLain




Glide activity has not been as active in the Summit Lake area, but still good to pay attention for and avoid. Photo by Alex McLain


Secondary Concern

A poor snow structure has been found in many areas of Summit Lake. Prior to this recent loading event no new avalanche activity was reported on any of these layers since early January. Right now there isn’t enough information to know how the snowpack is adjusting and it will be important to take a closer look before venturing into steep terrain. Pay attention for recent avalanche activity and “wumpfing” sounds, obvious clues that the snowpack is unstable. 

Snowpit at 2650' on Fresno Ridge. A layer of buried surface hoar was visible in pit wall, but was not reactive to tests in this location.



Buried surface hoar was not found in a snowpit in an open meadow at 2500' on Fresno Ridge. We did find a "junky" mix of old weak snow and crusts that were not reactive to stability tests.



Mountain Weather

In the last 24 hours (from 7am on Friday to 6am Saturday) Summit Lake has received no new precipitation. Temperatures have dropped into the high teens to low 20’s F and at this time no wind data is available.  

Today (Saturday Jan.30) expect a mild inversion with temperatures in the low 20’s F near the road becoming warmer with elevation. This means clear skies, but valley fog may develop as a result. Winds are expected to be light from the Northeast.

Check the Turnagain Pass advisory HERE for a current weather forecast. 


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: Feb 02, 2016 )

Glacier District
Johnson Pass: OpenJohnson Pass is OPEN for motorized use. Please DO NOT park in the turnaroud (near restroom) at the trailhead. Snowmachine access is through the (open) gate down the wagon road. Do not travel on the summer route as this is a non-motorized trail.
Placer River: ClosedInadequate snow at sea level.
Skookum Drainage: ClosedInadequate snow at sea level.
Turnagain Pass: OpenTurnagain Pass is OPEN for motorized use. Early season conditions still exist including creek beds and open water hazards in the flats. Please stay off of "Rookie Hill" (small feature directly out of the parking lot).
Twentymile: ClosedInadequate snow at sea level.
Seward District
Carter Lake: Open
Lost Lake Trail: ClosedDue to inadequate snow conditions and to prevent resource damage, operating or possessing a snowmobile on Lost Lake Trail is prohibited. Conditions will be monitored daily for a re-opening.
Primrose Trail: ClosedConditions are being monitored for an opening.
Resurrection Pass Trail: ClosedConditions are being monitored for an opening.
Snug Harbor: OpenPark in the lot at mile 9. No place to turn a truck around after this parking lot.
South Fork Snow River Corridor: Open
Summit Lake: Open

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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