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Thu, November 12th, 2009 - 7:00AM
Fri, November 13th, 2009 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good afternoon backcountry travelers, this is Carl Skustad with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Thursday, November 12th at 4pm. This will serve as a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for the Turnagain Arm area (Turnagain Pass is the core advisory area). Local variations always occur. This advisory should be used as a general early winter safety message and is less detailed than standard advisories.

Matt and I climbed up Sunburst on Tuesday to get some baseline stats on our early season snowpack. At the time we had 4-6 inches at 1000ft, 14-15 inches at tree line, 0-30 inches in the alpine due to wind erosion or deposition. Yesterday we picked up anCNFAIC Staff 4-6 inches over the advisory area at all elevations. Center Ridge weather station at 1800 ft is reporting 19 inches. Very strong winds continue to blow out of the NW with averages in the mid teens to mid twenties and gust up to 64. These strong winds continue to erode, transport, and deposit snow all over the range.

We found two main weak layers in our snowpack. One was formed last week when temps rose above freezing and left us with a melt freeze crust up to 2000 ft. The second layer is intact stellar crystals creating a density change under the current wind slabs. Both layers are easily triggered by riders or in some cases triggered naturally. Although these avalanches will be easy to trigger they are generally small in nature. Areas of increased concern and hazard lie above terrain traps, gullies, and cliff bands were wind slabs may be larger.

Take your time getting back into winter. It would suck to get pushed through the rocks early season. Make time to go through your gear and practice your rescue skills. No time like the present to discuss companion rescue with your backcountry traveling partners. Your life is in their hands. Check out our training calendar for avalanche classes.

To answer many of your questions and to solve the Tele Tips mystery of the month! The Forest Service was able to catch up on some deferred trail maintenance this fall and re-established the clearing limits on Tincan Primary, Tincan Secondary, Center Ridge, and Sunburst trails. These are all winter system trails and were in need of clearing. There are a few punji sticks left over that got missed so keep your eyes open. We will recut them closer to the ground if needed, but were covered with vegetation this fall and harder to see. AnCNFAIC Staff snow and I think we will all like the early season access.

We will start our 7 day a week advisory schedule when additional snow falls or changes warrant.

Thu, November 12th, 2009
Above 2,500'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
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1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
02/25/24 Turnagain Observation: Kickstep NE Bowl
02/24/24 Turnagain Observation: TinCan Backdoor/ Center Ridge
02/22/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Lynx Creek
02/22/24 Turnagain Observation: Turnagain, Seattle, Mt Ascension
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
02/21/24 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
02/20/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan
02/20/24 Turnagain Observation: Seward Highway across from Johnson Pass TH
02/19/24 Turnagain Avalanche: Base of Seattle Ridge
02/18/24 Turnagain Observation: Lynx creek
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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.