Avalanche: Hatcher Pass

Location: Avalanche accident- 16 mile road run at Hatcher Pass

Route & General Observations

Preliminary Report from the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center 3/10/20

Avalanche Accident 3/9 near Mile 16 road run at Hatcher Pass

A 17yo male, snowboarder triggered an avalanche around 12:30pm on Monday 3/9. It is believed that the victim strayed off his intended route and subsequently triggered an avalanche on a small slope which funneled into a terrain trap above a creek drainage. Terrain traps compound the risk of any avalanche, no matter the size. The slope was approximately 100’ tall.  The avalanche occurred on a SSW aspect at an elevation of 2000’ and a slope angle of 36 degrees. The avalanche resulted from a storm slab failing on a weak persistent grain faceted layer in the snowpack. The crown of the avalanche is estimated to be 2.5 feet deep.

Prior to the event, Hatcher Pass received a significant amount of snow, approximately 36” in 48 hours. Monday’s report was as follows:

33″ of snow and 1.7″ of SWE have accumulated at Hatcher Pass since 3/7. The IM snotel at 3550′ is reporting over 100 inches of snow this season! Quite impressive.This RAPID load will OVERLOAD weak layers and NATURAL AVALANCHES are POSSIBLE today and HUMAN TRIGGERED are LIKELY. Storm Slabs, Deep Persistent Slabs, and Dry Loose sluffs will be avalanche problems today and into tomorrow. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision making are essential today.”


This rapid load contributed to a Considerable avalanche danger Sat through Monday.

Monday’s avalanche report can be found here: https://hpavalanche.org/forecast/hatcherpass/




Contact, Location & General Observations
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Forecaster Comments

We recommend conservative decision making as the snowpack continues to adjust to its new load over the next 24-48 hours.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SnowboarderRemote Trigger Unknown
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect South Southwest
Elevation 2000ftSlope Angle 36deg
Crown Depth2ftWidth 60ft
Vertical Run 100ft  
Near Miss / Accident Details
Number Caught/Carried? 1Number Partially Buried?0
Number Fully Buried? 1Number Injured?0
Number Fatalities? 1  
Avalanche Details

A 17 yo male was caught and in an avalanche near the 16 mile run at Hatcher Pass on 3/9.
First responders on scene were able to get him out of the field. He died in the hospital.
Forecasters are doing a site visit today and will have more information about the specifics of the avalanche soon.
More information and a complete report will be posted at hpavalanche.org within next 2 weeks.

Red Flags
Red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. Please record any sign of red flags below.
Obvious signs of instability
Recent Avalanches?Yes
Collapsing (Whumphing)?Yes
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?Yes
Observer Comments

Significant new snow , 36" over 48 hours on 3/7 and 3/8
Recent avalanches, collapsing , and cracking observed by other folks in the field that day

Photos & Video
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