Observation: Chugach State Park

Location: Arctic Valley

Route & General Observations

A quick, late afternoon trip to Arctic Valley to practice pit digging and snow evaluation. Left car at 4:30 pm, toured up the north side of Arctic Valley across from the ski area and up a short distance toward the Nike site. Back at the car at 5:45 pm.

Red Flags
Red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. Please record any sign of red flags below.
Observer Comments

Some wind slab cracking around our skis in places, but this reaction was variable in the short distance that we skied. We were surprised to not see greater cracking given some of the pit results (see below).

Weather & Snow Characteristics
Please provide details to help us determine the weather and snowpack during the time this observation took place.

Mostly clear with some high clouds and localized fog that moved through. Consistent wind around 5 mph with gusts to 10 mph. Wind mostly from the SW but the wind gusts switched at times to NE. Lots of snow transport going on from the parking lot up to the ridge lines. Our up tracks were filled in when we turned to head back.

Snow surface

Generally hard surface everywhere with some softer, wind deposited snow in spots. Ski penetration ranged from 0 to 10 cm


Snow pole probes detected a hard layer 10-15 cm down from the surface. The upper layer was dense, wind-deposited snow that was subsequently determined to be the wind slab and potential layer of concern in our snow pits.
We dug two pairs of pits:
Pit 1 and 2: dug at 3,100 feet, 26 degree SW facing slope, height of snow (HS) was 110 cm.
Pit 1: ECTN13 breaking 10 cm down just below the wind slab on a thin layer of facets that sat right on top of a thin crust (see photos)
Pit 2: ECTP4 breaking and propagating 10 cm down as in pit 1. Many additional crust layers further down (see photo) with mostly sugary snow in between the crust layers and throughout the bottom 60 cm of the snow pack.

Pit 3 and 4: dug at 3,200 feet, 24 degree SE facing slope, HS 85.
Pit 3: ECTP5 breaking and propagating 15 cm down (the same wind slab layer).
Pit 4: ECTN4 breaking 15 cm down. More sugary snow and weaker crusts in this pit that in first pair but also dug the pit too close to a willow bush that may have affected results.

Photos & Video
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