Avalanche: Chugach State Park

Location: Mile High saddle

Date:
Observer:
Route & General Observations

 

I witnessed this avalanche, described in another observation, and want to add an important detail: it crossed a hiking trail in the forest, 600-700 feet in elevation below the trigger point, burying a short stretch several feet deep. It could well have injured or killed a person in that place at the wrong time. It’s a reminder that some terrain we take for granted as safe may have a start zone looming above and we may not be aware of events happening up there.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger Foot PenetrationAvalanche Type Unknown
Aspect SouthwestElevation 2600ft
Slope AngleunknownCrown Depthunknown
WidthunknownVertical Run 800ft
Avalanche Details

As two people on snowshoes transitioned from the west-facing slope above the saddle to a longer, steeper southwest aspect, a slab broke free along the grade break just before them. They were not on the slab when it failed and quickly retreated from the trigger point.

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

Significant new snow; shallow natural slides that occurred during the storm (lightly snow-covered) and wind features/cornices atop southern aspects.

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

Blue sky, ~10°, light wind increasing on adjacent ridgetop, significant spindrift plumes blowing from higher peaks/ridge to the north.

Snow surface

Variable: deep, soft pockets on sheltered slopes; denser, with light wind crust on northerly aspects; ice, hardpack, scoured tundra on ridgetop; >1' soft snow atop stiff m/f crust on subalpine south aspect.

Snowpack

No formal tests, did not travel an alpine southwest aspect. Pole probes highly variable but suggested widespread weak layers beneath dense old snow underlying new storm snow. Encountered two whumpfs on low-angle north aspect.

Photos & Video
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