It was impressive to stand on top of a ridge yesterday and look around at literally thousands of tracks littering the Turnagain pass area, and to know that is only a fraction of what was skied, hill-climbed and boot-packed last weekend. Observations yesterday are pointing toward generally stable snow in the heart of the core area, with a couple of exceptions.
Cornices are growing larger by the day and we have seen several fail naturally over the last few days. This is very indicative that many of these are reaching their tipping point and can fail naturally or be sped along by a skier or snowmachiners added weight. With any luck these will fail mid-storm or overnight but often times it is a rise in temperature or direct sunlight that weakens the bonds and promotes failure. Simply avoid time spent below cornices and when travelling along a corniced ridge, stay back much farther than you think necessary to maintain that added margin of safety.
A cornice failure may cause a slab to pull out on the slope below, even in a relatively stable snowpack. This appeared to be the case on Lipps, last Saturday.
Large cornices hang over the SW Face of Magnum. The horizontal track traversing below the cornice is an example of a very poor route decision. The much safer option would have been to travel along the shaded ridge, well back from the edge. photo credit: Josh Varney.
In sheltered terrain and mid-slope, where winds have not effected the surface, the snow continues to loosen and facet out. Sluffs will be fast and have the potential to reach high volume in the alpine. Don’t get caught off guard by this in steep, alpine terrain. Getting taken out by your sluff can have very serious consequences in some of the complex and challenging terrain that we’ve seen people travelling to over the last several days.
With 6-8” of loose, unconsolidated snow available for transport above ~2500’, shallow wind slabs could be quick to build and prove tender today. Keep an eye out for active pluming off ridges as a sure sign of wind slab formation. Expect any wind slabs forming today to be shallow (6-12”) but tender.
A few wind plumes yesterday were seen transporting the loose, surface snow into shallow wind slabs on Sunburst.
The more you look around, the more glide cracks you see in Turnagain pass and surrounding areas. Glide cracks continue to release here and there, without any real discernable pattern. Best practice continues to be to limit your time spent exposed to glide cracks. This takes some doing right now, considering the minefield of glide cracks that Turnagain pass currently is.
This glide crack on Cornbiscuit partially released sometime between Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon.
Yesterday proved to be quite a pleasant day in the backcountry with partly cloudy skies, temps in the low 20’s at ridgetops and winds in the low teens (mph) from the East.
As fond memories of last weekend’s sunshine and exceptional snow fade into this workweek, we’ll usher in another period of unsettled weather beginning today and ramping up a bit tomorrow. We can expect a few more clouds today along with an inch or two of snow above about 800′. Temps are cool this morning but will be warming through the day and may reach the mid-30’s at 1,000′ by this afternoon. Ridgetop winds are expected to be in the 15-30mph range from the East.
Tomorrow another front will begin to impact our area with potentially a bit stronger winds and more precipitation than what we see today.
|Temp Avg (F)||Snow (in)||Water (in)||Snow Depth (in)|
|Center Ridge (1880′)||26||0||0||92|
|Summit Lake (1400′)||24||0||0||27|
|Alyeska Mid (1700′)||28||0||0||70|
|Temp Avg (F)||Wind Dir||Wind Avg (mph)||Wind Gust (mph)|
|Seattle Ridge (2400′)||22||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|12/04/19||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst||A.Johnston-Bloom W.Wagner/ R.Van Luit Forecaster|
|12/03/19||Turnagain||Observation: HIppy Bowl||Nick Langowski|
|12/01/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan, All elevations||Eric Roberts|
|12/01/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Andy Moderow|
|11/30/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan Treeline Plateau/ Common Bowl/ Ridge||Eric Roberts|
|11/29/19||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst Ob #2||Aleph Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|11/29/19||Turnagain||Observation: Sunburst Ob #1||Aleph Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|11/27/19||Turnagain||Observation: Tincan||Aleph Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
|11/25/19||Turnagain||Observation: Sunnyside||Graham Predeger Forecaster|
|11/18/19||Turnagain||Observation: Turnagain Pass – Road obs||Aleph Johnston-Bloom Forecaster|
Status of riding areas across the Chugach NF is managed by the Glacier and Seward Ranger Districts, not avalanche center staff. Riding area information is posted as a public service to our users and updated based on snow depth and snow density to prevent resource damage at trailhead locations. Riding area questions contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Area||Status||Weather & Riding Conditions|
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