Avalanche: Hatcher Pass

Location: Sheep Glacier

Route & General Observations

We spent 4 days between 4/16/2016 and 4/19/2016 skiing the east fork of the Sheep Glacier and the headwaters of the Chickaloon Glacier. Snow depths on the glaciers were 2 meters or greater. Snow bridges were generally quite thick, though we were turned around once on the upper Chickaloon by a series of thin snow bridges in a heavily crevassed area. Snow conditions varied from corn on the southern 1/3rd of the compass to powder on the northern 1/3rd of the compass with a crusty transition on the remainder. We observed evidence of two very small storm slabs on north aspects and triggered one larger hard slab on a southerly aspect, which is described in avalanche details below. No other avalanches were observed. Snow conditions were classic Talkeetnas: 4 feet of heavier slab overlying depth hoar. Solar point releases were common in the late afternoon. Pictures of snow conditions and the skier triggered avalanche are attached.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SkierRemote Trigger0
Avalanche Type Hard SlabAspect South Southeast
Elevation 8000ftSlope Angle 30deg
Crown Depth 6inWidth 100ft
Vertical Run 500ft  
Avalanche Details

While skinning up a relatively low angle SSE ramp at 8,000' ASL in the early afternoon of 4/18/2016 we triggered a hard slab that stepped down twice. The slab broke just above the lead skier and ran 500 vertical feet. The crown was 4 inches wide on one side increasing to 12 inches on the other. The initial bed surface was a hard solar crust with facets on top of it. It stepped down once about half way down, then again shortly thereafter. The second bed surface was another hard crust. This step down was up to 2.5 feet thick. The third bed surface was depth hoar at the ground which was about 6 inches below the second surface. No injuries or burial.

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
Weather & Snow Characteristics
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Partly Sunny, snow showers, clear and cold at night, intense solar radiation during day. Calm winds.

Snow surface

Surface hoar up to 2 cm

Photos & Video
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