December 25, 2015

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Heightened avalanche conditions in Chugach State Park.  Evaluate snow and terrain carefully.  Identify features of concern.

Wind slab avalanche danger exists above 2500′; primarily in the upper elevations near peaks, along ridges and gully sidewalls on leeward and cross-loaded terrain.  Wind slabs are possible on all aspects; look for identifying features like bulbous areas of snow with a fat and pillowy appearance or wind “lip.”  Firmer snow overlying weaker snow, that is hollow or punchy, is another indicator.  Winds slabs that may possibly be triggered are expected to be touchy to stubborn and D1-D2 in size.

Wind slab layers in the snowpack are varied and numerous with typical Chugach State Park spatial variability.  Slabs may fail at faceted interfaces between wind packed layers, or near the ground on basal facets and depth hoar.

In general, the snowpack is still quite thin – especially so in more wind-exposed areas.  Riding is generally limited to windloaded gullies and upper elevation terrain features.  Be mindful of associated early season hazards.

Happy Holidays!