Avalanche: Chugach State Park

Location: Saddle between Wedge and Avalanche

Route & General Observations

Started off skiing but with the hard snow it was more work than it was worth. Took skis off and climbed up in boots, trying to stay away from the drifts and remain on the rocky areas. Started down, focusing on getting back to the skis which were right below me. Since I wasn’t climbing, figured a more direct route would be the most efficient. Stepped off the rock outcropping onto the slab which cushioned my step but the heel of my boot fractured the thickest part of the slab. I could see the crack shoot out on both sides and then focused on riding it out. Initially on top of the slab until it started to break up. Luckily I was at the very top of the slide which placed me on the top of the debris pile at the end. Was supine the entire time with boots in front.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger Foot PenetrationRemote Trigger0
Avalanche Type Hard SlabAspect Southwest
Elevation 3600ftSlope Angle 34deg
Crown Depth 12inWidth 600ft
Vertical Run 350ft  
Avalanche Details

Route up in blue. Took the shortcut in orange going down which was a big mistake. You can see the step that started it all. Right at the deepest part of the slab. Drifting behind that big rock outcropping. Lots of snow a couple of weeks back has partially thawed and refrozen creating a hard, slick surface. Today there was a little bit of powder falling up high, but it was drifting horribly. An avalanche class would have helped identify the warning signs. Not sure if a pit would have helped as the slab thickness was highly variable. The slab was monolithic- no layers at all. Could have built an igloo with the debris as the blocks were so solid.

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

Lots of drifting on top of hard smooth firn. Shiny surface.

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

Very windy with drifting snow.

Snow surface

Highly variable from powder to hard firn. Melt-freeze solid. Not much wind crust, but there were obviously thick slabs, but only in certain leeward areas. Don't trust that conditions in one area will be uniform elsewhere.


Extremely variable.

Photos & Video
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