Avalanche: Hatcher Pass

Location: Marmot Ridge

Route & General Observations

Splitter clear day until convective showers moved in from the east around 4.

10″ new snow on more dense soft base. North facing snow quality was mostly consistent and skied deep. Sluffs weren’t too deep at the start point, but picked up a lot of snow and ran medium speed pretty full track. Obvious settlement crowns on steep east facing, but snow stayed in place. Thought it could be storm settlement. Isolated shallow crowns were present on shady aspects but very sparse.

I got away with one today. Steep powder is always spicy and you have to wrangle with possibility of slides. I got caught by a convex roller and the shallow slab interface from the most recent storm.

Take away: We participate in a serious sport. Signs were all there. Calculated risk is another way to say not the conservative choice. This one didn’t play out how I hoped, but much better than it could have been. I got lucky today.
Another example how heuristics are THE challenge to staying safe.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SkierRemote Trigger No
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect North Northeast
Elevation 4200ftSlope Angleunknown
Crown Depth 8inWidth 30ft
Vertical Run 400ft  
Near Miss / Accident Details
Number Caught/Carried? 1Number Partially Buried?0
Number Fully Buried?0Number Injured?0
Number Fatalities?0  
Avalanche Details

8-10" deep, small soft blocks after my feet. Crown was 8-20" inches with thickening slab from west to east viewed from below. Cleared out the 30 foot across face/pocket, might have extended further out if there was room. Toe of debris settled another 400-ish feet below.

Events of the day

Skiing my third line, rolled over into a face section on a spine. Punch fronted in dramatic change in snow density and rolled through to my feet. I get one more turn and see cracks shooting. I made a hard turn and did pretty well digging into the bed surface. The pitch and amount of moving snow kept slowly dragging me along and a lot of the snow went past me. Eventually I had to turn into the fall line as I was getting drug into the rock pepper that I identified from the bottom. Got enough speed to get out off the cliff, but no control over how I was going to land. Took a few cartwheels and was able to dig in. Thankfully I missed rock and the landing was soft. Lost hat, googles, one ski and pole. Found the pole and ski couple hundred feet below me on the surface. Waved off the safety watch letting them know I was okay. Caught and carried 100 ft vertical from initiation to stopping point. Was really lucky to have most of the snow already past me before going down.

Rescue events

No rescue needed. Skied down on one ski to my gear.

Red Flags
Red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. Please record any sign of red flags below.
Obvious signs of instability
Recent Avalanches?Yes
Collapsing (Whumphing)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

Avalanche forecast was very clear that isolated pockets of poorly bonded wind slab was the primary concern.

Observed multiple settlement of soft slabs that didn't run.

Bluebird day with amazing snow and a lot of people were getting after it.

Not too many 'stable' and sunny days come a year. You try to be ready and make good choices, but it is go time.

Skied two other consequential lines that went great. Wanted to step it up.

Haven't had many days this season, so squeezing too much from the day.

Photos & Video
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