Observation: Turnagain

Location: Sunburst

Route & General Observations

Standard route up Sunburst West ridge to 2700′. An average of 10-12″ new snow from the last 3-4 days. Skin track near road had 3″ new snow from overnight. Snow felt bottomless and ‘upside-down’ – you could poke ski pole to ground in many places below 2000′. No obvious signs were observed, but we kept our slope angles below 30 degrees.

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

We observed what looked like a filled in crown from a natural avalanche on Taylor Pass. See photo below. Likey occurred yesterday mid day during active loading from moderate winds and new snow.

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

Snowing in the am, but then stopped by 10:30am. Visibility was poor until about noon when clouds/fog broke. Could see most of the surrounding peaks including Magnum, Tincan, and Seattle Ridge.

Temps were 28F near the road with cooler temps in the alpine and winds were light from the NE.

Precip started to fall around 4:30pm from Portage Valley to Girdwood.

Snow surface

3" of new snow was covering the skin track at Sunburst from overnight.
Slab depths (new snow from Dec.15) averaged 10-12", but in wind loaded areas near the NW ridge of Sunburst slab depths were closer to 16" thick.


Ski pole tests poked easily into the snow, 20" at times. Felt bottomless below 2000'. Above 2000' in places near the ridge the new snow felt more wind affected, slightly up-side-down, when breaking trail.

In Pit # 1 at 2650' on a West aspect we had a 16" slab (new snow from this weekend) propagate on a layer of buried surface hoar (formed mid December.) This BSH was 3-5mm in size and sitting on a 1F hard windslab. Test results were ECTP19, ECTP17 (Resistant Planar) HS=118cm (46".)

We dug a second pit at 2650', West aspect, about ~60 feet further south from ridge and didn't find the old windslab within the snowpack. The Dec.15 BSH was easy to see under 12" of new snow and was sitting on Fist hard facets. The 12" slab was very low density (Fist hard) and we didn't have any notebale results in our tests. HS= 85cm (33")

Photos & Video
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