Numerous D3 avalanches were observed on the east side of the road, north of Thompson Pass. Between Gully 1 and Cracked Ice, every buttress had significant avalanches originating from ~3000-3500 ‘, NW-NE aspects. Gully 1 and 2 had debris in the drainages, with Gully 2 running a considerable distance into the flats. These avalanches most likely ran between 12/29 and 12/31 during a significant spike in temperatures. There were many other naturals during this period. Many of these have been filled in by new snow and are being blowing in by the current wind event, making them hard to see.
12/31 Numerous small-medium natural avalanches observed below 4000′ on steep rollovers on the north side of the pass.
12/30 Natural avalanche observed on Cracked Ice Butress at 2700′. ~300 meters wide, 1 meter+ deep. Connected through gullies and over ridges.
D3 avalanche on east face of Mt. Tiekel (MP 50). Ran into top 1/3 of apron.
12/28- Several natural avalanches reported in the 54 mile area near brush line. 100′ wide and ran 300′. Depth was not observed.
12/26- Skier triggered avalanche on Cracked Ice Buttress: N aspect, 2500′, 37° slope, 18 inches deep, 100 feet wide, ran 200-300 feet. SS-ASu-D1-R1-I
12/24- Skier triggered avalanche on Python Buttress: NW aspect, 2700′, 35° slope, 60 feet wide, ran 200-300 feet. SS-ASu-D1.5-R1-O
12/18- A large glide release was reported off Snowslide Gulch middle peak, size 2.5.
12/15- Observed small natural avalanche on west aspect of Goodwills. Released below a cliff band at the bottom of a slope, 100′ wide. SS-N-D1-N
12/8- An observer witnessed a glide crack avalanche. SW aspect of peak 4690′ above the Valdez Glacier Lake. The debris reportedly ran all the way to the lake, with the deposition pile only feet away from a well used cross country ski trail.
1/6-1/9 Temperatures will remain cold this week with continued strong north winds. Outflow winds are forecasted to increase in strength tuesday night into wednesday.
The Thompson Pass Mountain Forecast covers the mountains (above
1000 ft) surrounding Keystone Canyon through Thompson Pass to
This forecast is for use in snow safety activities and emergency
Temp at 1000` 16 F 7 F
Temp at 3000` 5 to -12 F 4 to -12 F
Chance of precip 60% 60%
(above 1000 FT) 0.06 in 0.04 in
(above 1000 FT) 0 in 0 in
Snow level sea level sea level
Wind 3000` ridges NE 8-28 mph NE 8-28 mph
Thompson Pass “DOT”
HN24W= total water received last 24 hours in inches
Northeast winds at Thompson Pass were up to 40 mph this week and have created a variety of wind affected snow surfaces in locations that were exposed to north wind. This includes wind slab on lee aspects “SE-NW”. Wind slab often has a hollow drum like feel and should be avoided. Triggering a wind slab avalanche is still possible especially if winds increase in strength and gauge into deeper layers of the snowpack creating more available snow for transport.
The snowpack is gaining strength with falling temperatures and the end of precipitation. BUT…. We have a problem layer below 4000′ that is now buried deep within the snowpack. This poses multiple problems that may make decision making difficult. Since this layer is buried deeply, it may not show the normal signs of instability- shooting cracks, collapsing. Also, it may allow multiple people to ski or snowmachine on a slope before someone finally finds the sweet spot and triggers an avalanche. This type of avalanche will be most likely triggered from areas where the slab is thinner and the weak layer is closer to the surface, near rock outcroppings, or other thin areas of the snowpack. This problem is more significant the further north you go from Thompson Pass.
The new snow has opened up different access points. Use caution as you step forward into new zones. New snow combined with strong winds from different directions has created a lot of spatial variability in our area. Use terrain progression as you step out into new zones. Test smaller slopes before you step out onto larger ones.
There have been limited observations from interior locations due to low snow at lower elevations. Use caution if you travel in these areas.
If you have traveled in the mountains, please leave a public observation. The more info we can get from various locations will help us to get a clearer picture of the snowpack in our beautiful Valdez Chugach!
Forecast Confidence is Moderate.
Video taken 12/20 in the Mt. Dimond area showing reactive test slopes. https://vimeo.com/user106668057/review/380916811/02da5d1cc7
The avalanche hazard is moderate at mid and upper elevations. Human triggered avalanches are possible on recently wind loaded slopes. Thompson Pass is in the midst of an outflow wind event. Abundant recent snowfall, combined with strong north wind has formed windslab. Avoid wind loaded slopes and areas that are experiencing active wind loading.
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