Observation: Hatcher Pass

Location: Independence Mine Area

Route & General Observations

Our class dug pits in 3 different locations, all western aspects – on a bench between Marmot and Microdot, on the moraine beneath Ray Wallace Chutes on Marmot, and near the creek gully above Independence Mine parking lot and below Independence Mine.

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)?No
Cracking (Shooting cracks)?No
Observer Comments

On our drive in we noticed D1-D2? avalanches on the North side of Government Peak that appeared to be loose dry or shallow slab avalanches. Our party experienced whumpfing on the flats below Ray Wallace on the 22nd, but no whumpfing on the 23rd in either of the 3 locations. We did talk with folks in the parking lot who had experienced whumpfing near Gold Cord on the 23rd.

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

Sunny, light winds, no precip.

Snow surface

The snow surface was variable, alternating between cakey wind slabs that were occasionally upside down and varying in thickness but generally less than 4 inches thick, settled new snow, and strastrugi in some spots.

Wind loaded slopes were most evident visually on west to north aspects, and wind scouring was most evident on south to east aspects.


The snowpack was highly variable in terms of its layering! The snow structure was found to be poor in all locations. The snow structure generally consisted of wind slab or new snow on the surface, with alternating melt freeze crusts and facets beneath, followed by well developed depth hoar at the ground. Thinner areas in the snowpack exhibited thinner slabs and greater facet growth.

Strength was high and propagation potential was low on the bench between Microdot and Marmot and the moraine below Ray Wallace Chutes. Strength was moderate to high and propagation potential was found to be high on the area above Independence Mine parking area.