Observation: Hatcher Pass

Location: Micro-Dot

Route & General Observations

With a full day of sunshine it was easier to negotiate terrain and see more remnants from the previous avalanche cycle. Variable surface conditions and wind affected snow is the predominant theme. Our objective was to search for and test weak layers in the snowpack while investigating the thickness and sensitivity of wind firmed snow. We skinned up Micro-Dot on a south and west aspect, staying in the warmth of low angle sun. There is lower angle soft snow to be found, it just takes a keen eye to find the right deposition areas. Avoiding convex terrain features and where shallow snow barely hides sharp rocks will contribute to a safer day.


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

Clear skies and 20F degrees. Calm winds during the day but overnight transport of the trace of new snow was evident.

Snow surface

Wind drifted slabs were variable in hardness from Fist to Pencil, and ranged from a thin wind-skin of less than 1/2 inch to +4 inches of firm wind-board. Minor cracking in some surface snow but for the most part the drifted snow is stubborn to react.


The structure at the base of the snowpack is still unconsolidated because of facetted grains and remains a concern in steep isolated terrain features. You are likely to find this structure throughout the Hatcher Pass area and it is especially prominent on northern aspects in the upper elevations. Basal facets have been warmed and rounded by last weeks weather but still show signs of failure when loaded. Some of the previous crusts in the mid snowpack layers are faceting out and becoming harder to find.
On a south-southeast aspect at 4000' we measured 77cm of snowpack. At the base of the snowpack a layer of rounded facets was 15cm thick with clusters of striated hollow cups 1-3mm in size. You could pack them in your hand to form a snowball showing some moisture remains near the ground. ECTP21 @15cm; PST40/100End@15

Photos & Video
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