February 4, 2017

Weekend Avalanche Outlook

Chugach State Park experienced the most intense natural avalanche cycle in at least half a decade during the Monday-Tuesday wind event.  Widespread persistent slab avalanches, that failed at the ground on basal weak layers (advanced facets, depth hoar), were triggered by wind loading and cross loading.  Long running propagation of fractures resulted in very wide crowns in many areas.

Whumphing (collapsing) of the snowpack has been rampant all week.  Even worse than shooting cracks, persistent slabs half the size of football fields have cracked out around backcountry travelers.

While natural avalanche activity isn’t expected this weekend, and the probability of human triggered avalanches is declining, human triggered avalanches this weekend are expected to be large and un-survivable (very high consequence).

While it is expected to be a beautiful weekend with plentiful sunshine, comfortable temperatures, and light winds; please check the recent observations to have a better idea of the complex avalanche conditions if you’re planning on traveling in avalanche terrain.


Many avalanche accidents that have happened in Anchorage’s backyard of Chugach State Park could have been prevented by basic avalanche awareness.  If you don’t have this level of awareness, here are some online resources to help you start the learning process.  There are also numerous options for getting a real avalanche education locally.  Many of these learning opportunities are even FREE.  Here’s info on a great opportunity for a full day of learning at Glen Alps (main Flattop trailhead) on Saturday, February 11.


Chugach State Park now has a base for reasonable alpine touring.  Keep in mind that hazards such as superficially covered rocks and vegetation exist.

*click hyperlinks for further info