Observation: Girdwood

Location: Notch/Sunnyside

Route & General Observations

We skied into Notch today to get eyes on the snowpack for the first time this season. Last night’s storm brought 1-1.5′ of snow to the area, with some noticeable density changes in the middle of the storm layer. We saw widespread avalanche activity failing within the new snow, and a couple very large avalanches on the upper North Face of Alyeska. We dug one pit at around 2300′ on a southwest aspect and were concerned about the facets above the Thanksgiving crust- now 4-5′ deep. We climbed to a high point of around 2800′ and skied low-angle terrain and had a blast on the way down.

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

Widespread storm slab activity from last night's storm.

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

Skies were mostly cloudy with decreasing cloud cover through the day. There was an occasional snowflake or two, and winds were calm. Temps felt warm, in the mid 20's or so.

Snow surface

There was about 6" heavy snow in the parking lot, and 12-18" by 1500' or so. The snow was surprisingly dry once we started gaining elevation, but we could feel some noticeable density changes within this new snow layer, with a stiffer layer of snow right in the middle of the storm.


There was a lot of storm slab activity from last night, with most avalanches around a foot deep and on the order of 50-200 feet wide. We noticed two avalanches on the upper North Face of Alyeska that looked to be much deeper than the rest of the storm activity.

We dug one pit on a SW aspect at about 2300', and were not feeling great about what we found. The facets on the Thanksgiving crust were about 4 feet deep, and gave us mixed results in our stability tests (CT20 SC Q1, ECTX). For the test that did fail, the column collapsed with noticeable energy and popped into the pit. The extended column did the same thing when we pried on it with a shovel. It's worth noting that in this pit the layer was deep enough that our column tests were at or beyond the limit of when they are useful. Overall, we were spooked by the way that layer was behaving and were very conservative with our route choice.

See attached photos for detailed snowpit info.

Photos & Video
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