Observation: Girdwood

Location: Crow Pass Trail

Route & General Observations

Planned to head up to Crow Pass to check out conditions along the trail, but were cut short by very weak wet snow on the lower part of the trail. The SE and SW aspects above the trail head had wet snow down to the ground so we stopped and dug a pit to evaluate conditions. We found a weak layer of wet snow about 40 cm above the ground and decided to turn around instead of continuing onto a large SW facing slope with a creek below it. During spring it is best to stay off of slopes when you are sinking in deeply to wet snow because large wet slab avalanches can release spontaneously during periods of intense melt.

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

Partly sunny skies and temps in the 30s to 40s. Winds were calm at lower elevations and light as we climbed towards alder line. Clouds were moving quickly and winds looked stronger at upper elevations.

Snow surface

Very wet snow surfaces on flat, southeast and southwest aspects that we traveled on. You could easily punch through the whole snowpack to the ground with a ski pole and and my boot sunk all the way in.


We dug one pit on a SE aspect at 2000'. The snowpack was wet to moist all the way to the ground and about 3.5' deep (110 cm). The upper 10-12" was very weak and composed of very large melt freeze grains. The middle part of the snowpack was wet to moist with smaller grain sizes which gradually gained strength with depth. About 16" above the ground there was a weak layer where the melt water was pooling at the top of an old basal facet layer. We had a collapse in the weak layer in our compression test but no results in the extended column test (CT 28 SC, ECT X). Overall I would say the snowpack was very concerning for wet loose or wet slab avalanches and we decided not to cross under a large SW facing slope due to the weakness of the wet snow.

Photos & Video
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