Observation: Hatcher Pass

Location: Eldorado/Skyscraper

Route & General Observations

Dear intrepid Hatcher Pass recreators,

More than a month has passed since our beloved pass has received a meaningful snowfall (2/25 was the last storm to deliver more than 4″ in a single event). With all models pointing towards some type of precipitation for the weekend, the HPAC forecasting team felt it as prudent to go for a pre-storm assessment of our snow surfaces, in hopes they get buried. Cross your fingers, throw your lucky penny in the pond (yes, most of them at Valley level are now liquid water…) and/or pray for snow.

Toured up Eldorado to Skyscraper as light precipitation (S1) and moderate+ (30-40mph winds) gusting strong (50+) blew from the south.

Allie, Andy and Fallon (Skeetawk pro ski patrol/volunteer observer)

Avalanche Details
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Avalanche Details

We triggered a small wind slab near ridgeline at 4300' on a north aspect that was recently loaded during our tour.

Red Flags
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Observer Comments

Small, mostly 1" windslabs were forming by 1300. We were able to kick off a 1-5" windslab, about 20' wide right below ridgeline as winds were actively loading the slope.

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

-Winds were steadily blowing in the 30s-40s (moderate). At 1200, Hatch Peak station read 55mph (strong). Note that it requires at least 40mph gusts for Allie Barker's braid to go and remain sideways (see video).
-Temperatures felt noticeably colder. Hatch and Marmot both read 17 °F at noon.
-Trace to S1 precip was happening above 3,500' by 1200.

Snow surface

-Snow surfaces remain variable. On unskied norths, we found 10" of soft snow, a mixture of facets, some light wind transported grains and new precip particles.
-Solar aspects and areas that have been skied were firm and crusty. Crust quality and distribution is variable; most places crusts are soft and breakable, with the worst crusts being observed on E/SE aspects. We did not tour on true S. You can tell from the car true solars are fairly bulletproof at this time with colder overnight temperatures after last week's warming.
-Lee aspects (NW-N-NE) demonstrated active wind loading while traveling. At first, small (1" deep by 2' wide or less shooting cracks), soft wind slabs were observable. By 1230, we were seeing more cohesive, though still soft wind slabs that we were able to release, the largest of which was right below ridgeline, north facing and 1-5" deep by 20' wide. It ran less than 30' on facets.


-Hand pits and pole tests revealed new small isolated wind slab formation at/near ridgeline on leeward aspects. Small and reactive wind slabs were failing on buried near surface facets

Photos & Video
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