Avalanche: Hatcher Pass

Location: West Face above Gold Cord Lake

Route & General Observations

Skied one run one the South Face of Microdot, one run on the North Face of Microdot, and attempted to ski the west face above Gold Cord Lake. No obvious signs of instability seen. Recent storm slab avalanche releases on almost all North aspects in Hatcher Pass. North Face of Microdot (AKA Nosebleed) had amazing boot top powder and showed no signs of instability. The West Face run I went up to ski had very similar snow quality and I found no obvious signs of instability on the skin up. As I reached the ridge the snow became much more punchy; potentially having wind affected snow near the summit. As I was on the ridge I heard a large whumpf and the avalanche started only a foot in front of me and propagated nearly across the entire west face above the lake. I was able to stay on top of the debris and take the slide into the bench that sits above the lake. It appeared the avalanche stepped down into the persistent slab that was forecasted.

Contact, Location & General Observations
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Forecaster Comments

Slab broke above skier, likely failed on persistent weak layer. SS-AS-D2.5-I

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SkierRemote Trigger0
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect West
Elevation 4800ftSlope Angle 35deg
Crown Depth3ftWidth 450ft
Vertical Run 500ft  
Red Flags
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Obvious signs of instability
Recent Avalanches?Yes
Collapsing (Whumphing)?Yes
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

No obvious signs. All N-NW aspects in Hatcher Pass were forecasted to have persistent slab issues. Previous avalanches and crowns on all N aspects in Hatcher Pass

Weather & Snow Characteristics
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26*F, 9mph ESE, no new snow in the past 24hr

Snow surface

Boot top powder
Crust under 1" of snow at lower elevations


No snowpits dug. Sun crust at lower elevations. Ski pole probe tests indicated a homogenous snowpack and no obvious weak layers.

Photos & Video
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