Observation: Chugach State Park

Location: Indian Pass

Route & General Observations

South and northwest sides of Bidarka Peak. Various surface and shallowly buried melt crusts disappearing from 2000 – 2500 feet. Creamy dense snow-surface conditions above there. No current signs of instability or recent avalanches observed. Per normal for this part of CSP, high spatial variability in snowpack depth from exposed grass to 2 meters deep. Was generally impressed to not experience any collapsing despite repeatedly traveling between thicker and thinner areas in the snowpack. Did notice significant faceting around shallow rocks that I suspect were the culprit trigger points during the widespread avalanche cycle in Falls Creek last month where avalanches almost exclusively started from these thin spots. Suspect these spots would again become trigger points during another loading event.

Pit on a south facing gully at 3400 feet. Like mentioned above, with high spatial variability in the zone this pit is not representative of the area as a whole, but was focused on the gully features we were skiing.
– HS = 2 meters
– Slope Angle = 31 degrees
– CT22, ECTN30 @ 30 cm down on an interface between recent soft windblown storm snow and a harder windslab. Found one 1-2 mm BSH crystal on this interface, but did not appear to be a continuous layer.
– The melt freeze crust that we have repeatedly observed in Falls Creek over the last month was buried ~1 meter down down and did not produce any failures even outside of test parameters.
– Right-side-up snowpack with the exception of at the bed where 15 cm of rounding, moist, snowballable facets exist.

On an unusual note, had a group of 10 sheep cross the starting zone of a gully directly above us. Each animal literally jumped from the rocks to impact into the snow. We all seriously wondered if we were about to be caught in an ungulate-triggered avalanche, and were relieved when nothing moved. Seemed kind of analogous to a natural cornice fall type event. If any of these sheep are reading this, we respectfully ask that they try to be considerate of other public land user groups traveling under them in avalanche terrain.

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