Observation: Girdwood

Location: Crow Pass Trail and road observation to Portage Valley

Route & General Observations

Crow Pass trail to 2600′. We took the standard trail and then traveled a talus slope to avoid deeper snow and avalanche hazard from above. We wanted to get an overview of snow cover and recent avalanches. Much of May has been cold and snowy. A “shed cycle” has been observed in the mid elevation terrain around the advisory region. However, there is fresh snow at upper elevations and the snowpack is still transitioning from winter to spring. Warmer temperatures and direct sun could trigger natural avalanches. Much of this trail is in the track of avalanche paths that can run from above. The snowpack is also becoming more and more saturated and traveling could initiate avalanches as well.
We also did road observation to Portage Valley to look at the Byron Glacier valley and the glide cracks on Maynard. We have not observed glide cracks until now. These are important to recognize if you are traveling near them. Glide avalanches are totally unpredictable and are the entire snowpack releasing to the ground.

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?Yes
Collapsing (Whumphing)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

Recent slab and loose snow avalanches. The FS developed rec staff observed a large natural avalanche in motion the day before (May 23, 2018) in the afternoon from the trailhead.
Glide cracks are opening up on Maynard Mountain in Portage and in other terrain throughout the region.
There are still large cornices above Byron Glacier Valley and the terrain near the creek. Travel past the end of the trail is not recomended.

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

Partly cloudy
Mid 50Fs
Light wind
no precipitation at Crow Pass
Portage was overcast and it was raining

Snow surface

Wet snow, post holing on trail

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.