Support the forecast! Support the forecast!

Give to Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Info Center.

Avalanche: Hatcher Pass

Location: Back side of Microdot

Date:
Observer:
Route & General Observations

Human triggered avalanche, partial burial. Multiple riders on slope prior to triggering avalanche.

Avalanche Details
If this is an avalanche observation, click yes below and fill in the form as best as you can. If people were involved, please provide details.
Trigger SkierAvalanche Type Hard Slab
Aspect NorthElevation 4500ft
Slope Angle 35degCrown Depth 12in
Width 100ftVertical Run 500ft
Avalanche Details

The party was skinning up from the lake on the backside of Microdot on the right side looking up from the lake. The top skier triggered the avalanche right at the spot where the cornice was starting to form on the right hand shoulder of the ridge. The side we were skinning up was the leeward side of the mountain and had accumulated a slab which measured about 1.5 feet thick at the right side looking up and about 1 foot thick to .5 feet thick on the left. The avalanche was a classic hard slab avalanche with a compacted faucet base surface and about 35 deg slope. The slope had already been skied multiple times. The crown face extended about 100 ft going from 1.5 ft thick on the right to about .5 ft thick on the left side. Two skiers who where below the trigger point got caught in the slide and rode down the slope approximately 50 ft, ending up sitting up with only the legs buried. One skier got caught at the bottom of the slide and was knocked over. There were no injuries and only 3 ski poles lost.

Red Flags
Red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. Please record any sign of red flags below.
Obvious signs of instability
Recent Avalanches?No
Collapsing (Whumphing)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?Yes
Observer Comments

I did not see any new avalanches that day and did not observe any whumphing until this avalanche went off. There were shooting cracks observed. We were all aware that Hatcher's snow conditions have been very avalanche prone this year. There were multiple tracks observable before we skied down and the entire party of 6 skiers made in down the slope with no incident. Just goes to show that you can never tell. Apparently no one had yet tried to cross the place on the top of the ridge where the cornice was starting to form. This was in hind sight obviously a very tender trigger spot.

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

About 4" new snow, no appreciable wind approx 50 Deg F.

Snow surface

4" fresh on top of a hard packed slab.

Snowpack

Did not dig a pit. The observation of the avalanche showed 4" of fresh snow on top of a compact slab from .5 to 1.5 feet thick on top of a 3 to 4" layer of compacted sugar snow.

Photos & Video
Please upload photos below. Maximum of 5 megabytes per image. Click here for help on resizing images. If you are having trouble uploading please email images separately to staff.