Turnagain Pass RSS

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Sun, March 27th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Mon, March 28th, 2016 - 7:00AM
Heather Thamm
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE below 3000′ in Turnagain Pass where glide cracks continue to avalanche without warming. Identify areas with existing glide cracks and avoid being under or near their run-out.

In the Alpine the avalanche danger is LOW, where triggering an avalanche today is unlikely, but taking a fall in steep terrain will be difficult to self arrest. This is a great example of how LOW DANGER DOESN’T MEAN NO DANGER.

*If you are headed to the Summit Lake area don’t forget to check  Summit Lake Summary.

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Sun, March 27th, 2016
Above 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
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.
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Glide Avalanches
    Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches
Glide Avalanches are the release of the entire snow cover as a result of gliding over the ground. Glide avalanches can be composed of wet, moist, or almost entirely dry snow. They typically occur in very specific paths, where the slope is steep enough and the ground surface is relatively smooth. They are often proceeded by full depth cracks (glide cracks), though the time between the appearance of a crack and an avalanche can vary between seconds and months. Glide avalanches are unlikely to be triggered by a person, are nearly impossible to forecast, and thus pose a hazard that is extremely difficult to manage.
More info at Avalanche.org

The glide cycle continues throughout our region leaving large streaks of dirt and debris behind. Dozens of glides have released throughout Turnagain Pass and hundreds of large cracks continue to creep open and move. Without new snow to cover up old glides it is getting difficult to track new activity.

Two nights of below freezing temperatures have helped to temporarily stabilize the snow in places without glide cracks. It is important to understand that superficial freezing has added strength to the surface, but the snow below is still moist and poorly bonded. Glides can release even with superficial cooling, as observed yesterday on Seattle Ridge. See photo below. 

The entire East face of Seattle Ridge is covered with cracks including the most of Repeat Offender, which has seen accelerated activity this week. The area near the ‘uptrack’ is getting more cramped, and navigating through the mid-elevation band is getting more and more complex. As long as glide cracks continue to release we will continue to stress the importance of avoiding this hazard! 


A lot of recent glide activity on Center Ridge and Tincan Ridge and many glides that haven’t yet released. 



Avalanche Problem 2
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

Below freezing temperatures have formed a firm surface crust in the mid and upper elevations. This crust has added strength to the snowpack following unusually warm weather last week. The good news is that the avalanche hazard is low in the upper elevations, the bad news is it come with a different hazard to manage. Slide for life conditions do exist in steep terrain where it will be unlikely to trigger and avalanche, but easy to lose an edge. It is still necessary to consider the consequences of taking a fall in the terrain you are both ascending and descending.

*Cornices remain extremely large and perched along many ridgelines. These features deserve extra space and can break farther back than expected. Triggering a cornice will become more likely later in the day with warming temperatures. Trigger a cornice above steep terrain could mean going for a long ride.

Two people on Tincan Ridge above a large cornice. These features are very difficult to judge and this is a great example of how important it is to space out and only expose one person at a time. Photo by Ryan Lewthwaite. 


Very firm surface conditions can make skining conditions difficult right now. 

Sun, March 27th, 2016

Yesterday skies were mostly sunny and winds were light from the East. In the mid elevation zone evening temperatures dipped below freezing and daytime temps reached the low 40F’s. No precipitation was recorded in the last 24hours. Overnight temperatures reached the mid 20’s F.

This morning skies will be mostly clear and become cloudy in the afternoon with rain showers beginning early evening. Temperatures will start to increase throughout the day and rain/snow will be around 1500′. Ridgetop Winds from the East are also expected to build throughout the day becoming Moderate (20-30 mph) by late afternoon.  

This evening a low-pressure system will move into our region bringing warm air and rain showers to Western Prince William Sound. Unseasonably warm temperatures, strong winds and heavy precipitation are expected to last several days.  

PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) 32   0   0   124  
Summit Lake (1400′) 33   1   0.1   41  
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 32   0   0   103  

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 23   Variable 4   12  
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 26   n/a   n/a   n/a  
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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.