Turnagain Pass RSS

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Fri, December 30th, 2011 - 7:00AM
Sat, December 31st, 2011 - 7:00AM
Kevin Wright
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Good morning. This is Kevin Wright with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center on Friday, December 30th at 7am. This will serve as 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).


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The avalanche danger is LOW with pockets of MODERATE for wind slabs, and cornices. The most common type of snow to be found right now is loose powder. Some areas at higher elevations will have wind-stiffened pockets, and may be prone to isolated slabs 1-2 feet deep or unstable cornices.


We keep looking for the avalanche problem, but we haven’t found anything in the last couple days that bCNFAIC Staffs us too much. There are areas near the ridgetops where wind has built stiffer pockets. Despite this, people are skiing and riding some big exposed lines around Turnagain pass with no reported issues. We have received observations that some areas have a crust underneath the loose powder. This could become a problem if the wind picks up and blows that light loose snow into deeper slabs on top of the crust.

The surface snow in most areas is loose powder. Sluffing is possible where the loose snow falls away in a point release. Most people will find this to be a good thing, but it’s worth noting that even sluff avalanches can carry a punch and might need specific technique to avoid getting hurt. Check out this discussion on “sluff management”.

We’ve also gotten a few reports about glide activity in the last few days. Girdwood valley has experienced a few glide avalanches in remote areas. Some of the cracks in Turnagain Pass have visibly gotten larger, creating more of the crevasse hazards that we saw in November. Even in this colder weather the snow is moving, ever so slowly, as a cohesive unit.


Snow has been falling over the last week, 1-2 inches at a time. The next couple days will continue that trend with no major storm, but cold snow is possible each day. Wind has been light, and temperatures remain close to 0 degrees at 4000 feet.

The next storm could happen around Sunday, although the confidence in that prediction remains low.

CNFAIC Weather Page and the NWS forecast

I will issue the next advisory Saturday morning. If you get out in the backcountry we want to know what you are seeing. Please send us your observations using the button at the top of this page or give us a call at 754-2369. Thanks and have a great day.

Fri, December 30th, 2011
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
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.
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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.