Avalanche: Chugach State Park

Location: Emerald Peak (Crow Pass region)

Route & General Observations

Camped and climbed Emerald Peak from Oct. 30 – Nov. 1st, hiking in from Eagle River Nature Center.

Temperatures varied from -18 to -12C [0 to 10F] during the day with no precipitation. Existing snow cover varied from ~0 cm / bare ice at the riverbed (~900 ft. elev.) to ~30 cm [12″] on leeward aspects of peaks (~5200 ft elev.)

Strong northern winds were creating pillows and slabs on leeward (southern aspect) slopes. On leeward aspects above 4000′ we caused multiple shooting cracks and triggered a series of soft slab avalanches (8-15 cm [3-6″] crown heights, currently too unconsolidated and shallow to be hazardous).

These existing weak layers, in addition to heavy frost development at all elevations from the dry and cold conditions, could create significant deep, weak layers later in the season (The ECMWF forecast model via windy.com currently forecasts 1 foot of fresh snow with high winds up to 70 kt gusts on Nov. 8th, after several days of no precip and moderate winds below -7C [-20F] from Nov. 4-7th. )

An additional hazard at lower elevations is bears. We saw one grizzly bear close to Twin Falls (61.169, -149.146) as well as multiple fresh tracks.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger Foot PenetrationRemote Trigger Unknown
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect South
Elevation 4500ftSlope Angle 30deg
Crown Depth 3inWidth 30ft
Vertical Run 30ft  
Near Miss / Accident Details
Avalanche Details

We knowingly entered avalanche terrain because current conditions (low snow depth and minimal consolidation) created a high-probability, no-consequence risk profile. We triggered multiple small soft slab avalanches at the old/new snow interface.

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

(See main report) Multiple shooting cracks triggered in small windslabs, plus multiple small, soft slab avalanches triggered. All on recent leeward (southern) aspects. Snowpack is currently too shallow and unconsolidated to be hazardous but represents future weak layers near ground level.

Photos & Video
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