Avalanche: Chugach State Park

Location: South Fork Eagle River

Route & General Observations

I toured solo from South Fork trailhead almost all the way to Symphony Lake via the west side of the valley (did not stay on the trail, did not cross the bridge). I passed under Swiss, Italian, and Hugh’s bowls. Around midday I ascended the ridge, dropped SW into Ship Creek, meandered north below treeline, and eventually returned to the trailhead via Hunters’ Pass at North Bowl.

While traveling in South Fork valley I experienced about ten huge whumpfs. Two of them went for hundreds of feet above me and reverberated around rocky features for as much as 1-2 seconds. It sounded like rolling thunder or surf crashing. No shooting cracks, but some alder bushes did shake during these whumpfs. All of these whumpfs occurred adjacent to large slide paths, such as Hugh’s, that looked like they already ran during the big wind event earlier this week. There are D2 size debris fans that have been etch-a-sketched by high winds in the run outs of most bowls on the West side of the valley. I felt fairly confident that the slopes above 30deg around me had already slid and I was collapsing remaining low angle pockets that did not go naturally during this past week’s storm.

However, there is evidence that not every path has slid. There was a recent mid-slope wind slab release in Swiss Bowl (I didn’t get a picture). And a very crisp/recent release in the middle of Death Bowls (SW slopes just north of Eagle Lake). See picture. The bowls to the lookers’ left look like they might have already released mid-storm (and some new point releases since then too), but the bowls to lookers’ right have not released. The big slide pictured came within 100-200ft of crossing the ski tracks on the South Fork Trail. The crown appeared to be about 1 foot deep. The slide ran about 1300 vertical feet.
The upper elevation north facing bowls that I ascended near in order to cross into Ship Creek have not avalanched, yet, and were very tempting to ski. But, I triggered more big whumpfs near them and stayed well clear of those paths.

In the afternoon in Ship Creek the west facing mellow slopes skied beautifully once soft. It looks like a lot of people had fun in the softening snow in North Bowl yesterday.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger UnknownRemote Trigger Unknown
Avalanche Type UnknownAspect Unknown
ElevationunknownSlope Angleunknown
Crown DepthunknownWidthunknown
Vertical Rununknown  
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)?Yes
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

numerous whumpfs, some that rolled like surf or thunder for more than 1 second and traveled hundreds of feet uphill.

Weather & Snow Characteristics
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warm, periods of brilliant sunshine, but also a lot of flat light.
significant "greenhouse" effect on the snow

Photos & Video
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