Observation: Turnagain

Location: Tincan Common

Route & General Observations

Toured up to Tincan Common to get a look at the early season snowpack. It was raining along the highway driving down from Anchorage, but thankfully it stayed dry at Turnagain Pass with 3-5″ of new snow from the past 24 hours. The approach to Tincan was well filled in and made for pretty easy skinning compared to a normal November. In the afternoon the snow down low warmed up a bit and felt heavier.

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

Occasional light snow flurries and light winds with visibility coming in and out throughout the day. Temperature in the high 20s to low 30s F.

Snow surface

There was about 3-5" of new snow from the past 24 hours, which was a little heavier at low elevations. Along the upper elevation ridgelines the surface underneath the new snow was much more wind effected and firm.


We looked at the snowpack at about 3200' near the top of Tincan Common. Overall the snowpack was about 3' deep and right side up with no obvious weak layers. On the ground there was a 6" thick layer of icy frozen wet snow. At this elevation this layer doesn't seem to be a problem, but at higher elevations this old snow layer on the ground is more faceted and we think it was the cause of a very large human triggered avalanche last weekend on the skiers side of Turnagain Pass at about 4000' in Goldpan bowl.

We also noticed a weak layer, potentially buried surface hoar, that failed in our stability tests about 12" deep. We did not have any propagation in our stability tests (ECT N 11, CT 11 RP) on this layer and it was very thin and hard to identify in the snowpit wall. In areas with firmer snow on top of this potential weak layer, like wind slabs on the leeward side of ridges, it could be more reactive and produce avalanches 1-2' deep.

Photos & Video
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