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Observation: Hatcher Pass

Location: Mint Hut Area

Date:
Observer:
Route & General Observations

Stayed at the Mint Hut 3/4/16-3/6/16 and skied on the Mint Glacier and to/from Grizzly Pass. Found extremely variable conditions, ranging from sastrugi to powder. East aspects were either slide-for-life dust on sun/wind crust or breakable wind slabs (generally unreactive). South aspects were beginning to get a consistent sun crust, and were starting to have widespread, but small wet loose avalanches in the afternoons. We were able to find awesome powder in wind protected areas on west aspects (i.e. Grizzly Pass), and above 5000 feet on Mint Glacier. Overall, lots of sunshine (we got sunburned yeah yeah!!!), some great turns, and a great weekend.

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)?Yes
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

South aspects have widespread, but generally small (D1) wet loose avalanches in the afternoons. We got a whumph on a low angle south-ish aspect on a fresh windslab around 5000' in the terminal moraine area of Mint Glacier.

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

Friday AM - Obscured skies, light - moderate winds, S-1. Blowing snow. Temps ~20's.
Friday PM - Partly cloudy, light- moderate wind from the north, no precip. Temps ~teens.
Saturday AM - Partly cloudy, calm wind, no precip. Tracks were filled back in from yesterday. Temps ~low 30's.
Saturday PM - Overcast mid day, changing to clear in the evening, light wind, no precip. Temps ~upper 30's.
Sunday AM - Very very clear skies, calm winds. Temps ~upper 30's.

Snow surface

Variable. Wind crust, sun crust, powder, sastrugi, wind slab, all of the above.

Snowpack

Per the rules, we dug to see what our whumph was on. We found several ridiculously distinct layers in the top 40 cm or so. The surface snow (5cm 4F) slid off, sudden planar, on isolation on a shovel tilt test. Then a wind slab (15cm P) failed on fist NSF with easy tapping. We got CT5 at the wind-slab NSF interface. This was most likely the whump, because everything below this was P+ wind slab as deep as I could chip through it.

We also dug on the east aspect of final hill approaching Mint Hut. CT15, RP, at an interface between wind slabs about 20cm down. ECTX. Buried NSF in the top meter of the snowpack.