Observation: Hatcher Pass

Location: Marmot- South ridge

Route & General Observations

We toured up the south ridge of Marmot to investigate 12/11 new snow and hardness of 12/9-10 wind-affected snow. We looked for recent avalanches but were unable to see any due to poor visisbility. We tested snowpack stability with hand shears and dug two pits.

Red Flags
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Observer Comments

We felt one whump today around 3200' that collapsed beneath the wind slab in faceted snow.

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

Overcast with light breeze from the southeast. 19F degrees at 4000' and snowing at a rate of S-1.
15degF on Marmot 4500'
17degF at IM 3550'
22degF at Frostbite 2700'

Snow surface

2 to 3 inches of new snow at Gold Mint 2000'
5 to 6 inches of new snow in last 24 hours above 3000'.
Areas of wind blown snow on exposed ridgelines were visible just below yesterdays new snow. No new crusts were found despite warm temps at the beginning of the storm.

Old firm winds slabs could be felt underfoot on southerly aspects and made for challenging skinning in isolated locations.


We toured up the south ridge and dug on the south ridge at 3670' and on the SW face at 4100'. We observed new snow over slabs of wind-affected snow with variable hardness and thickness typically 2-4" thick. The exposed south ridgeline we climbed was shallow and scoured on the windward south and east face with deposition on the leeward western slopes. We found many of the wind slabs to be 4F soft with more pencil firm snow as we ascended into the upper elevation zone, where winds were stronger. Wind slabs were stubborn to move, well bonded with good friction.
The majority of the mid to lower snowpack is comprised of faceted snow that is rounding and the grains are somewhat moist.
Hand shears below 3400' failed with moderate force approximately 16"/45cm deep on a faceted crust or in facets below the crust. No buried crusts were observed above 3500'.
A second pit was dug on a SW aspect and showed similar snowpack structure with more depth.
ECT stability tests showed no propagation within dense slabs.
We searched for buried NSF (near surface facets) around crusts below 3500' anticipating that layer as a potential failure for 12/9-10 wind slabs but instead found rounding facets with no propagation.

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