Observation: Chugach State Park

Location: McHugh Ridge SW Gully

Route & General Observations

Skinned up west ridge of McHugh Peak to around 3,100 ft to intersect with the summer trail, then skiied down a west aspect gully.

Red Flags
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Observer Comments

We did not get any large shooting cracks but were able to get 3 inch wind slabs to break in chunks around our skis out 3 ft in all directions in certain isolated locations. Obviously wind loaded areas on western aspects. Same western aspects were stripped to ground not far from loaded areas. The skin track we had skiied earlier in the week was filled back in in some places and large deposits of wind blown snow could be found in places. Lots of hollow sounding, pillowed snow found on western aspects. Significant cross loading and stripping across Rabbit Creek and Bear Valley.

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

Sunny, no precip, light wind near and at ridge lines, cold, very chilly day!

Snow surface

Highly spatially variable! Orange peel and recycled powder found lower on mountain. Sastrugi, impenatrable chalky windboard, breakable wind crusts 1-4 inches thick, and sun crusts found up higher. Nothing was very continuous.


Generally upside down snowpack with pencil to knife hard wind slab, often sitting on crusts, overlying basal facets and depth hoar in the alpine. Lower elevations you could find recycled powder sitting over a crust, overlying basal facets and depth hoar. We dug 3 pits, 2 of which were on SW aspects near potential ridgeline starting zones that were 10 ft apart with very different test results, exhibiting the high spatial variability and discontinuity of the snowpack. The third snowpit was on a northern aspect in the same gully near the ridgeline. Elevation of pits ~3100 ft.

Pit 1: SW. 34 degrees. HS=80
ECTP9 down 35 cm on <1mm facets over a sun crust. The slab that failed above the weak layer and bed surface was K hard.

Pit 2: SW. 34 degrees. HS=87 cm
ECTX. Of note, this pit was 10 ft away from Pit 1 and the sun crust that found as the bed surface in Pit 1 was the surface layer in Pit 2. Pencil hard wind slab with a few thin layers <1 inch of 1F facets on top of basal facets that ranged from 1F to P hard.

Pit 3: NW. 28 degrees. HS=110 cm
ECTP11 down 45 cm on BSH layer. BSH was layed over and appeared to be metamorphisizing.

Photos & Video
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