Observation: Hatcher Pass

Location: Pinnacle

Route & General Observations

Our goal was to ski some lines in Fairangel Cirque, then return to the IM Mine lot via our uptrack. When we reached the western flank of The Pinnacle and contemplated the big south-facing expanse that we would need to descend when returning later in the afternoon we decided to change plans. We didn’t want to be on those slopes in the heat of the day, they were already too soft.
The western ascent to The Pinnacle was shaded and we were able to skin 99% of it with switchbacks. Towards the top we got into the wind, 10-15mph, and there was active loading that was concerning. We hustled to transition quickly. There was active natural sloughing from wind loading coming down off the pyramid-top of The Pinnacle during our transition. Also, broken off cornices seemed to be building back up little by little in front of us.
The North facing couloir off of the pinnacle had obviously slid several times during the last storm cycle. The snow surface was highly variable for the entire length of the chute. Sloughs were large and fast. There is also still a massive cornice above the slope. Similar cornices had recently (March 14th?) fallen in adjacent couloirs and caused full length avalanches. We skied all the way out the NW bowl and returned to the main road via Archangel Road.
Take away thoughts:
– Cornices are falling, yet also building back up.
– Even light winds in the 10mph range have a ton loose snow available for transport and wind slabs are building on higher elevation ridge lines.
– The snow quality on lower elevation slopes in the shade is really, really good.

Red Flags
Red flags are simple visual clues that are a sign of potential avalanche danger. Please record any sign of red flags below.
Observer Comments

active wind loading, even with very light winds
recent large cornice falls

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

hot in the sun, very very cold in the wind&shade

Snow surface

variable on avalanche debris. the very best powder on shaded 30deg slopes.