Observation: Girdwood

Location: Notch Mountain

Route & General Observations

Toured up to about 2500′ on Notch Mountain. Skied the trees on the N aspect.

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

We triggered a large collapse while descending.

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

Temperatures felt pretty cold up high, especially when a light wind picked up. Alyeska and surrounding peaks were getting a lot of E wind which was loading the west aspects. Crow Pass/Eagle Glacier area peaks did not seems to have as much wind transport.

Snow surface

Some small surface hoar on the surface with soft faceted snow underneath. Snow cover in the forest was still relatively thin.


We could feel the Thanksgiving melt freeze crust about 50 cm down with ski pole tests from 1300' - 2500'. In the pit we dug at 2100' we found a weak layer (5 cm thick) of facets above a strong melt freeze crust (15 cm). This layer propagated at ECT 31, which is beyond the normal scope of the test when you just hit it hard. It seems like this layer could be hard to initiate an avalanche on but if you did it has the potential to create a large avalanche. Since we triggered a collapse on this layer skiing about 100 m away from where we dug that pit, it is clear that it is possible for a skier to initiate an avalanche on this weak layer.

Photos & Video
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