Observation: Chugach State Park

Location: Peak 3

Route & General Observations

Standard up track to Peak 3. The landscape was severely wind-affected, with bare ground in many places and up to nine feet of snow in gullies. The parking lot was plowed but icy- there was a lot of strategic shuffling when we walked around with ski boots before we put our skis on.

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

Short shooting cracks in wind-loaded pockets. 2-6" deep.

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

Mostly overcast skies with patches of sunlight, strong winds from the SW at the ridge and at higher elevations, no precip.

Snow surface

The snow surface was mostly rock hard and icy with pockets of fast and fleeting softer windblown snow. 1-2" new snow from last night on more sheltered terrain at lower elevations, with some graupel on the surface. All of this new snow had been blown around above treeline. Expect a core shot or two after you leave the Peak 3 gully- coverage is thin near the parking lot and you might need to dodge and weave through some vegetation.


Overall, we were looking at a wind-scoured landscape- with lots of patches of bare ground, predominately icy rock-hard snow surface, with pockets of softer wind-loaded snow that made for an occasional decent turn on low-angle slopes. These fresh wind slabs were showing sign for concern in steeper terrain - we were able to get short shooting cracks (2-3' long, 2-6" deep) on these fresh wind-loaded pockets, and the layer failed in stability tests on an upper-elevation north-facing wind loaded slope (ECTP25). The layers of faceted snow in the upper half of the snowpack that had been giving us concern for the past few weeks are showing signs of improvement in this area. The warming event that occurred last week allowed that weaker snow to start gaining strength. Going into this weekend- pockets of snow with active wind loading are going to be your biggest concern.

We dug two snow pits. One in a north-facing aspect at 3,500' in a fresh wind slab. We got ECTP25 roughly 50 cm down, at the interface between the wind slab and decomposing precip particles 5cm from the base. Info for our second snowpit (dug near the start zone of the gully of Peak 3.) below:

Location: Peak 3
Elevation: 3,309'
Aspect: West
Slope: 27 degrees
Test: ECTX

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