Turnagain Pass RSS

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Mon, January 19th, 2015 - 7:00AM
Tue, January 20th, 2015 - 7:00AM
John Fitzgerald
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

The avalanche danger is generally LOW in the Alpine.   Isolated pockets of old wind slab could be triggered in steep higher elevation terrain.   In steep terrain over 3,500′ be on the lookout for previously wind loaded pockets of slab 1-2′ deep.   In this terrain the danger is MODERATE today.

At treeline the danger is LOW, where a once saturated snowpack has now mostly refrozen.   Avalanches in this zone are unlikely with glide avalanches being the exception.

Early season conditions exist in the treeline elevations (1,000′-2,500′).   You will encounter icy conditions along well traveled routes, exposed rocks & stumps and open water.   Use caution when traveling through this elevation band.

Special Announcements

Mark you calendars for January 23rd when the APU Outdoor Studies Department and Alaska Avalanche School present Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Backcountry Film Festival!! A night of entertainment, raffle prizes and a chance to rekindle our winter stoke is on tap. This is an AAS and F-CNFAIC fundraiser – a great way to support local avalanche education and information. Hope to see you there!

Mon, January 19th, 2015
Above 2,500'
2 - Moderate
Avalanche risk
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Below Treeline
Below 1,000'
0 - No Rating
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
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.
Avalanche Problem 1
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

For those willing to endure challenging approaches into the Alpine, favorable skiing and riding conditions exist.  The main avalanche concerns to contend with today will be isolated pockets of older wind slab and glide cracks/avalanches.  

Wind Slabs
Winds that ended 3 days ago (Jan 16th) loaded some starting zones in the upper elevations.  These slabs range from 1-2 feet in depth.  It will take slope angles approaching 40 degrees to find slabs that could be triggered by skiers and riders today.  This is an isolated problem but is worth keeping in mind if you are heading into high elevation steep terrain or to the periphery of the forecast area where we have less information (Girdwood & Summit Lake).

Glide Avalanches
Glide cracks are visible throughout the area.  Most cracks exist between 2,500-3,000’.  No releases were observed over the past 24 hours.  These avalanches can move downhill at any time and do not play by the normal rules of avalanche release.  Steer clear of glides and alter your route if you find yourself below these cracks, as my partner and I did yesterday on our way up to Magnum Ridge.

Glide crack at 2,700′ S facing in PMS Bowl.  Photo: Fitzgerald

Glide PMS bowl

As always, it is important to use effective travel techniques in order to minimize your exposure:

Travel one at a time on suspect slopes.

Recognize and utilize islands of safety for spotting and regrouping.

Have an escape route planned in the event of an avalanche.

Communicate decisions and plans effectviely within your group.

Be aware of and minimize exposure of other groups that are above or below you.

Mon, January 19th, 2015

Yesterday brought mostly clear skies with no precipitation.   Winds were light out of the Northwest and temperatures were more seasonable, with ridgetops averaging in the low 20s F.

Today expect similar conditions with occasional snow showers lasting into the evening hours.   Expect a trace to 2 € of snow by tomorrow as a short wave disturbance moves through the area.   Winds today will be light out of the East at 5-10mph.   Temps at 1,000′ will be around 30 F.

Beyond tonight potential for snow will next come on Thursday.   Temperatures look to remain closer to normal over the next few days.

PRECIPITATION 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Snow (in) Water (in) Snow Depth (in)
Center Ridge (1880′) N/A N/A N/A N/A
Summit Lake (1400′) N/A N/A N/A N/A
Alyeska Mid (1700′) 25 0 0 18.8

RIDGETOP 24-hour data (6am – 6am)

  Temp Avg (F) Wind Dir Wind Avg (mph) Wind Gust (mph)
Sunburst (3812′) 23 WNW 4 15
Seattle Ridge (2400′) 25 N/A N/A N/A
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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.