Avalanche: Chugach State Park

Location: Raven Headwall, Eklutna Traverse

Route & General Observations

Completed the Eklutna Traverse going from North to South over 3 days starting on Saturday morning. Exited via the Raven Headwall at 4:50pm Monday. Another party in the area dug a snow pit in a low-angle (20 degrees?) area above the headwall and found no result (ECTX) in extended column test. They did note a possible slab at the surface with a weak interface about 33cm down.

Above the cloud layer in the valley, sun was strong, and Raven Headwall had likely been cooking most of the day. On Saturday night, we noticed significant winds at Pichler’s Perch which possibly redistributed snow and built some wind slabs. Sunday onward winds were calm.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SkierRemote Trigger No
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect Southwest
Elevation 5600ftSlope Angle 40deg
Crown Depth 8inWidth 30ft
Vertical Run 250ft  
Near Miss / Accident Details
Number Caught/Carried? 1Number Partially Buried?0
Number Fully Buried?0Number Injured?0
Number Fatalities?0  
Avalanche Details

While ski cutting the top of Raven Headwall, I triggered a D1 avalanche that caught and carried me about 250 down the slope. Snow surface felt like good powder/corn with about ankle-deep ski penetration. Looking at GoPro footage, initial ski cut started at the top of the steep part of the rollover, but I should have started it a little higher to allow me to have more room to escape possible propagation.

Avalanche was likely a day-old wind slab that had softened up in the heat of the day for that slope aspect. I was able to stay completely on top of the slide and only lost 1 ski pole which my partner retrieved after down-booting the slide. My partner reported that the bed surface that the avalanche slid on was firm, easily edgeable snow.

Events of the day

3rd day of the Eklutna Traverse starting that day from Han's Hut. We really wanted to just get home.

We scouted the headwall and observed no terrain hazards (no bergshrund, no cornice, safe runout). A few small loose-wet natural avalanches in areas significantly steeper and with rocks around them on the same aspect, but no red flags observed. Main concern was that we were just getting to this area later than we wanted to in our trip plan, but it didn't seem worth it to turn back at this point in the trip. I ski cut the slope and triggered the avalanche which carried me down the slope.

Rescue events

None, I wasn't buried, was able to radio my partner that I was totally fine after the avalanche came to a stop. Other party in the area had a visual of me as well during the whole event and was able to see I was fine. Partner retrieved my lost ski pole and we were able to exit the Raven Glacier without issue.

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

Calm winds. Sunny. Thick cloud layer in the valley of the Raven and Eagle Glaciers creating whiteout conditions between 4000-5000'. At the headwall, my watch reported temperature of around 45F.

Snow surface

Settled powder, possibly day-old wind slab that had gone through mild melt-freeze cycle. Generally good snow for skiing. Ski penetration to mid-ankle.


other party dug a snow pit in a 20-25 degree slope angle area on same aspect. ECTX. They didn't find anything too concerning.

Photos & Video
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