Observation: Chugach State Park

Location: Northside of McHugh Peak

Route & General Observations

Toured the north side of McHugh Peak to get a good vantage point of the Upper Rabbit Creek area and to look at a spot where we’ve been monitoring snowpack trends.

We were planning on checking out the Falls Creek avalanche. However, the start of the skin track for the Falls Creek is located inside of a common slide path and there is a fair amount of overhead hazard that you can’t get great eyes on from the approach. We were watching the Penguin Ridge weather station and noticed there was another wind event today. Given the amount of exposure you have on that skin track combined with a new wind-loading event from today- we decided to pivot to somewhere else. We will access that area when the avalanche hazard is lower.

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

10:00 am- Overcast skies, no precip, no wind
12:30 pm- Overcast skies, no precip, light breeze from the northeast
1:00 pm- Overcast skies, no precip, a moderate breeze from the northeast
1:30 pm- Overcast skies, no precip, no wind back at the parking lot

Snow surface

The snow surface was variable. In some locations, we had a breakable wind layer and in other locations the wind layer was supportable. In wind-protected areas in the trees- the snow was soft and not a cohesive slab.


We dug one snowpit. Info is below:

Location: Northside of McHugh
Elevation: 2,600'
Aspect: North
Slope: 20 degrees
Test: We did get ECTN24 on the top layer of near-surface facets. If this layer gets buried deeper it could be more of a concern.

All the 1' of fresh snow from last week has been moved around by the wind in the last two major wind events. One of the wind events was from the southeast and the other from the northeast. The cross-loading has caused some loading in areas that don't normally get loaded (midslope or mid-run).

I decided to talk through our decision to not go to Falls Creek in my video for a couple of reasons- wanted to highlight the concern about the wind loading on top of the reactive near-surface facet layer we've been getting propagation on over the last two weeks (see the forecaster Bear Valley or Peak 3 observations for more info). That layer has been spotted at multiple locations throughout the state park and it's not just isolated to just Falls Creek area. Lastly, wanted to bring attention to the overhead hazard at the start of the Falls Creek trailhead (especially with the most recent wind events adding stress to the snow pack) in case the observation generates more human traffic to that spot right now.

Basically, the avalanche hazard has increased with the last wind events and we have some funky wind-loading on top of a reactive near-surface facet layer.

Photos & Video
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