Avalanche: Portage / Placer

Location: Whittier

Route & General Observations

We snowmachined from Whittier, over Whittier Glacier, Burns Glacier, to the icefield directly east of Carpathian Peak above 4000′ feeding into Spencer, Northland & Blackstone. There was cold dense powder above 2500′ on north-ish aspects of the Whittier. The Burns was melting slush at 2000′ by the time we got there at 1130am. Snow improved again around 2500′ on the icefield between Portage & Spencer – 5-20cm of heavy windblown powder. Under a west face 1.5mi east of Carpathian Peak at 4300′-4600′ there was 15-30cm of dense settled powder.

Crevasses; the glaciers seemed to have relatively benign surfaces, but there was more concerning texture/topography climbing south out of the Burns, and crossing above the Concordia.

One riders primary clutch broke. It was invaluable to have satellite communications with AGA. Also luckily, the rider had purchased insurance to cover a machine recovery. Extra layers, food & water were also nice as we waited 3 hours for the lift. Knowing how to ride double was important for the rider with the mechanical. Lesson learned: get the sled to a flat area and/or prep a landing spot for the heli, as they don’t just lower rigging for you to secure the load yourselves.

Avalanche Details
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Trigger SnowmachinerRemote Trigger No
Avalanche Type Soft SlabAspect West
Elevation 4500ftSlope Angle 45deg
Crown Depth 7inWidth 100ft
Vertical Run 50ft  
Avalanche Details

Triggered two small slabs on two consecutive sidehills on steep but short slope above Portage Glacier. It may have been enough to push a rider around had they been stationary under the slope. Seemed to be a windslab on top of old snow. Soft debris.

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

We triggered a small windslab.

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

In & out clouds from 10am-3pm, mostly cloudy after. Light to moderate winds.

Snow surface

Melt/freeze surface below 2500'. Cold dense powder above 2500', depth increases with elevation.

Photos & Video
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