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Mon, October 4th, 2021 - 7:00AM
Tue, October 5th, 2021 - 7:00AM
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Winter is on its way!

The days are getting shorter and the mountains whiter…that must mean the 2021/22 winter season is near!

Here are a few early season updates from the Chugach NF Avalanche Center:

  • The Avalanche Center will begin issuing intermittent snow, weather and avalanche updates as conditions warrant from mid/late October through mid November.
  • Daily avalanche forecasts are planned to begin around Thanksgiving week – pending an unseasonable chilly fall, which might demand an earlier start.

Early Season Conditions and Avalanches:  We’ve already had a report of one human triggered avalanche in the Turnagain Pass region. This was on Oct 1st in Tincan’s Common Bowl. More on this below.

Upcoming Events:
The Southcentral Alaska Avalanche Workshop 2021 will be held Friday, Nov 12th from noon to 430pm, virtual on Zoom! Check on all those details at akavalancheworkshop.org

*REMEMBER, the best way to keep tabs on current events/information for the early season is on our Facebook  page and  Instagram!!*

Mon, October 4th, 2021
Above 2,500'
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Avalanche risk
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Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
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1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
Recent Avalanches

On Friday, October 1st, a snowboarder triggered a slab avalanche in Common Bowl on Tincan. The slab was around 16″ deep and 200′ wide. It failed on a weak layer that is believed to be older faceted snow under the new 1.5 feet (ish) of snow from the end September. The rider stayed well in front of the moving debris and was not caught. Their partner was able to catch the event on video (seen below). We are thankful for the sharing of information, especially now when the avalanche center is not yet fully operational.

Tincan Common avalanche seen from below. 10.01.21 by B.S.

Please take a look at the full report HERE.

Early season avalanches do happen, even if there is not all that much snow on the ground. Right now there is roughly 2-3′ at 3,000′ and maybe 6″ near the parking lots. We don’t have much information yet, and appreciate any observations from folks getting out!

A quick reminder of those famous signs of instability – The Red Flags:

    • Recent avalanches
    • Cracking/whumpfing in the snow around you
    • Changes in weather: Strong wind, snowfall and/or rain

Heading out during, or right after, a snowfall is the most dangerous time and when avalanches are most likely to occur. This is especially important to realize for hunters and others that may not have avalanches in the forefront of their minds.

Snowfall to date @ Turnagain Pass 2,500′ – 3,500′:
Sept 22-24 storm:  16-20″ snow, ~2 – 2.5″ of SWE
Sept 30-Oct1 storm:  12-16″ snow, ~1-1.5″ of SWE
Snow depth at the Turnagain Pass SNOTEL (1880′) as of Oct 4th:  18″
Snow depth reported by observers as of Oct 3rd:  2-3′

With the early season snow falling on a warm ground, it’s no surprise A LOT of glide cracks and some releases are being reported. Note the photo below sent in Oct 3rd of the NW corner of Magnum Ridge, seen from the Sunburst approach. A big thanks to Katie S for her report on these glides, and many others around Turnagain Pass, HERE.

Glide cracks on NW Magnum. 10.03.21 by Katie S.

Avalanche Gear:
  This is a great time to make sure your avalanche rescue gear is in order.

  • Does your shovel and probe assemble properly? Any parts rusted and/or worn out?
  • Does your beacon have fresh batteries and terminals not corroded?
  • Brush up on how to use your avalanche beacon – turn it on, does it pick up another beacon properly and vice versa?
  • Comms? Is you InReach a go, your radio, or any other communication devises you use?

As the season gets underway, let’s do our best at minimizing our risk in the mountains! Another storm system is looking to hit later this week (Thur Oct 6th to Sat Oct 9th). As always, let us know what you are finding out there.

Recent Observations for Turnagain Pass
Date Region Location
11/16/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Common
11/14/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst/Magnum
11/14/23 Turnagain Observation: Seattle Ridge
11/13/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Tincan Trees
11/12/23 Turnagain Observation: Sunburst
11/12/23 Turnagain Avalanche: Goldpan – avalanche
11/11/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Common
11/11/23 Turnagain Observation: Taylor Pass – Sunburst
11/10/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan
11/10/23 Turnagain Observation: Tincan Trees
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This is a general backcountry avalanche advisory issued for Turnagain Arm with Turnagain Pass as the core advisory area. This advisory does not apply to highways, railroads or operating ski areas.