Observation: Chugach State Park

Location: Falls Creek

Route & General Observations

Climbed out of the inversion today into Falls Creek. Per Mike Records’ 12/10 observation, there was a good sized (D2) avalanche down into the creek off of the South Face of Sheep Thrills. I followed the skin track up the right fork of the valley and found that a similarly large slide had come off of Falls Peak down into the valley. Looked about the same age.

Skied the NW facing chute and found an inconsistent wind slab 3-4″ thick that would not react. Saw an older release in W-NW facing steep slope below the steep rocky face under the Indianhouse summit. ~D1.5 in size potentially in a wind slab but appeared to have been older with snow filling it back in. Booting up the chute was arduous waist deep until about 100′ from the Indianhouse ridge, it rapidly changed to a foot of snow with 3″ of facets on the ground with a wind slab on top. I flipped it there and skied back into the bowl and then toured around to the other fork of the drainage towards the lake.

I skied a SE 30 degree slope in beautiful afternoon light and was pleasantly surprised to find little wind affect and settled powder. Upon cresting the ridge and seeing views of North Yuyanq’ Ch’ex and saw 2 D2 avalanches on a S-SE face. Similar size, elevation and presumed age as the slide on Sheep Thrills also coming from steep terrain. Skiing on chosen slopes was great with no signs of instability.

Overall struck with how little wind affect there was (for the Front Range) and the continued quality of skiing without finding glaring signs of instability since the storm passed.

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

Clear and calm with barely a breath of wind. Inversion with warmer temps at higher elevations.

Snow surface

Below ~800 a rime/condensation lens was forming on the snow surface and trees/sticks. Likely from the inversion.

Above 1000 slight wind affect on N facing slopes. An inconsistent wind slab 3-4" thick was sometimes present. South facing slopes had little to no wind affect with settled powder.