Observation: Hatcher Pass

Location: Goldmint region, 4500' level W aspect

Route & General Observations

Toured in the Goldmint region up to 4,500′ on a W facing chute. Temp was around the 20s, getting into the teens at higher elevations, with slight wind and snowfall at 4,500′ that began as we started descending around 2:00 PM after finding a reactive windslab. Before that, cloudy/partly cloudy skies with minimal wind the whole day.

Snow conditions from trailhead onwards was plenty enough to skin, but the alders are still a little treacherous. Above treeline, mostly soft, supportable snow atop a denser, sometimes crusty layer 4 – 8″ down. There were some short sporadic sections of wind-affected snow, old windslab (varying from an inch or two thick chalky slab, to a foot or two thick dense unbreakable slab in isolated sections. There was some mild breakable crust in one section of the skin too, maybe an inch thick. But mostly soft and pleasant skiing.

We were easily able to trigger sluffs on slopes above 35 degrees, that slid on the crustier layer ~6 inches down in the snowpack. Only sign of instability, except for sluffing of loose snow, were shooting cracks we triggered on a 40 – 45 degree windslab around the 4,500′ level in a chute, upon which we descended. Did not observe recent avalanches, though we might’ve seen an old natural windslab one on a W aspect – weren’t sure, flat light. Snow conditions in the higher elevation chute was primarily ~9 inches of loose snow atop an unbreakable crust, with a reactive windslab we naturally found a little higher up towards the ridgeline.

Seemingly all higher elevation ridges and features are completely scoured. There is enough coverage in valley floors, and some higher elevation loaded features like chutes/gullies, bowls, and some faces to present enough ski options. But still some sharks to watch out for. Most mid-elevation drainages are not filled in enough for easy travel, and were an annoying obstacle to cross. There are some cornices we saw too, most notable of which was a 6 – 10 foot overhanging one on a W or NW aspect on the W ridge of an unnamed peak around the 5,000′ elevation level.