Observation: Chugach State Park

Location: Swiss/French Bowls

Route & General Observations

A few laps in Swiss/French bowls, on north, east, and west aspects

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)?Yes
Observer Comments

Skier triggered loose snow avalanches observed across valley on Harp - see photo below - likely in the last few days. Otherwise, nothing looked new in the past week... One instance of cracking on a wind loaded west aspect near ridgeline - cracks were in a slab only a few inches thick and travelled ~5 feet

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

Clear, light winds above 2500' occasionally gusting moderate generally from the Northeast, but occasionally from the east or west, likely due to terrain channeling. -4f at the car, rising to the single digits at ridgeline.

Snow surface

What a difference the past week has made, with the occasional moderate winds & strong gusts according to the Arctic Valley weather station. While winds that were capable of snow transport generally came from the North to Northwest at that station, pockets of a breakable thin (<1") wind crust were found occasionally on all aspects above 2500', likely due to the terrain channeling. We also found a run from ridgeline to the valley bottom without any sign of wind affect on a north aspect (!?!)... again here we suspect, and thank, the terrain for mixing things up.

Large (1"+!) surface hoar observed below 2500' in the South Fork wind protected areas, with some smaller surface hoar growing in wind protected areas above that elevation. None could be seen without a lens on the wind affected surface at ridgeline... for now!


The 18" of soft snow from the Veterans Day storm has settled to 12" in wind sheltered locations. The greatest sign of wind affect was on north to west aspects of a ridge that defines one edge of french bowl running down towards ship creek, where tracks from last Saturday were largely filled in above 2500' and raised near the ridgeline. The surface in this area had a 1-3" thick breakable wind affected snow, sitting on 1-6" of soft snow from the veterans day storm. As reported last weekend, this structure sits on a crust/facet/stout crust combo that existed prior to that storm.

No formal stability tests, but hand pits showed that the Veterans Day storm - wind affected surface layer aside - is still not acting like a slab.

Photos & Video
Please upload photos below. Maximum of 5 megabytes per image. Click here for help on resizing images. If you are having trouble uploading please email images separately to staff.