Avalanche: Hatcher Pass

Location: Microdot

Route & General Observations

Based on recent weather and observations we decided to tour out of Independence mine up towards Microdot. We dug two pits right next to each other one with a deeper snowpack and no stability test failures, and mine which was shallower with the details listed in the observation. Based on my pit, I assessed that the snowpack was unstable and we should avoid steeper terrain. If we would have only used the data from my partner’s pit, we might not have been as conservative. We discussed risk, assessed a recent avalanche on Microdot, and watched a few skiers ski a line to the looker’s left of the line that slid (prior to the avalanche), and deemed it safe. As we began our skin up, we saw it slide and witnessed the skier barely out ski the avalanche debris. We decided that our chosen line was probably safe to ski, but there were enough red flags, so we chose to err on the side of caution and skied off the lower bench back to the truck.

Overall it was good lesson in risk management, the complexity of terrain and weather, good group communication, and conservative decision-making in the backcountry.

Avalanche Details
If this is an avalanche observation, click yes below and fill in the form as best as you can. If people were involved, please provide details.
Trigger SkierRemote Trigger Unknown
Avalanche Type UnknownAspect Unknown
ElevationunknownSlope Angleunknown
Crown DepthunknownWidthunknown
Vertical Rununknown  
Near Miss / Accident Details
Avalanche Details

Skier and another witness already submitted observations.

Events of the day

Not in the party involved

Rescue events


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

Few clouds and calm winds, temp -5 deg C.

Snow surface

Loose powder and new ~8cm wind crust


Pit: 3900' on Microdot, east aspect, 16 deg slope, snow depth ~115cm
ECTP11 @62cm
CT11, Q2 @ 62cm
PST: 75cm END @ 62cm

Photos & Video
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