Avalanche: Girdwood

Location: Crow Creek Area

Route & General Observations

Went up to Crow Creek to check out conditions after reports of recent avalanche activity. We found a lot of recent avalanches and a very weak snowpack structure.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger NaturalRemote Trigger Unknown
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect Northwest
Elevation 3000ftSlope Angleunknown
Crown DepthunknownWidth 1000ft
Vertical Rununknown  
Avalanche Details

Many avalanches in the area. The largest appeared to be 1000'+ wide and to have released on layer of facets on top of the Thanksgiving crust. Most of the activity was in areas that likely saw recent wind loading on Thursday.

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)?No
Observer Comments

We triggered 3 large collapses in the area where we stopped to dig a pit. Luckily it was low angle and there was no connected terrain above us, otherwise it seemed likely we could have remote triggered an avalanche.

Weather & Snow Characteristics
Please provide details to help us determine the weather and snowpack during the time this observation took place.

Valley fog with clear skies above, felt like a temperature inversion. Calm wind where we skied but there was some active wind transport on the high peaks in area in the morning.

Snow surface

The surface snow was faceting out under the clear skies and cold temperatures. There was a new layer of surface hoar on top. Boot penetration was 3'+.


We found about 30cm (12") of decomposing new snow on the surface. Underneath the snowpack was weak but pretty rightside up until a layer of well developed facets about 65 cm deep. These facets were 1-2 mm and sitting on top of a melt freeze crust. We had ECT N's with moderate strength on the storm snow interfaces in the upper snowpack. On the facet layer we had to slam on the shovel after the test (ECT P 32) to get it to go, but it propagated with a sudden collapse once we initiated the failure. We followed up with a propagation saw test (PST 25/100 END), which indicated that the weak layer is reactive and capable of easily propagating a failure.

Photos & Video
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