March 22, 2015

Important: AK DOT will be shooting artillery along the Penguin ridge from 10am-12pm Tuesday, March 24, 2015.  Travel in the area will be unsafe during this time!

Observations – Turnagain Arm – Penguin Peak

Obvious signs of instability:

  • None


  • Mostly sunny skies with some passing cumulus clouds later in the day (no precip)
  • Light southerly wind
  • Alpine temps in the mid to upper 20s

Surface conditions:

  • No snow at trailhead, on ATV approach trail, and Penguin ridge trail until ~500′ elevation
  • 500-2250′ debris from D3.5 natural avalanche that requires booting
  • 2250-3000′ debris from D3.5 natural avalanche that is smooth enough for skinning through and around, supportable to breakable melt-freeze crust in areas without debris
  • 3000-4305′ a few cm’s of soft, dry, wind-buffed powder with some patches of exposed, hard, older wind slab
  • several cm’s of soft, dry, settled powder in the north bowl from 4305′-3500′
  • firm wind packed snow from 3500-2500′ in the north bowl


Looking down on the approach at ~500′ from the tip toe of the debris from the D3.5 natural avalanche that likely occurred sometime early last week and ripped down from a west aspect at ~3500′:penguin debris toe

Looking up from the tip toe of the debris:penguin debris toe 2

More views of the debris carnage:penguin debris carnagepenguin debris downpenguin debris wall

Snowpit on belay at ~4050′, 348 degree northerly aspect, 39 degree slope, 162cm height of snow, ECTN5 155cm (7cm down from surface), ECTN15 140cm (22cm down from surface), CT8 Q3 155cm, CT18 Q3 140cmDSC03625DSC03628:penguin snowpit belay

Brian “Randoman” Harder ( skinning the ridge to the summit where we would drop the VW bug size cornice onto the face below with no result on initial impact and pulling out a thin wind slab several hundred feet down after launching off a rock band and creating a crater through the snowpack to the ground where it impacted the slope:penguin ridge brian

Looking down the ridge:penguin ridge look west

Roped up and on belay for safe cornice dropping:DSC03638

The backcountry bomb:DSC03641DSC03643DSC03647

Reaping the rewards of our extensive snowpack assessment:DSC03662DSC03691

Skiing the sunny side back to the car:DSC03705

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