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17-Year-Old Snowboarder Killed in Hatcher Pass, AK Avalanche

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Preliminary Report 3/10/20 Avalanche Accident 3/9 near Mile 16 road run at Hatcher Pass A 17yo male, snowboarder triggered an avalanche around 12:30pm on Monday 3/9. It is believed that the victim strayed off his intended route and subsequently triggered an avalanche on a small slope which funneled into a terrain trap above a creek drainage. Terrain traps compound the risk of any avalanche, no matter the size. The slope was approximately 100’ tall. The avalanche occurred on a SSW aspect at an elevation of 2000’ and a slope angle of 36 degrees. The avalanche resulted from a storm slab failing on a weak persistent grain faceted layer in the snowpack. The crown of the avalanche is estimated to be 2.5 feet deep. Prior to the event, Hatcher Pass received a significant amount of snow, approximately 36” in 48 hours. Monday’s report was as follows: “33″ of snow and 1.7″ of SWE have accumulated at Hatcher Pass since 3/7. The IM snotel at 3550′ is reporting over 100 inches of snow this season! Quite impressive. This RAPID load will OVERLOAD weak layers and NATURAL AVALANCHES are POSSIBLE today and HUMAN TRIGGERED are LIKELY. Storm Slabs, Deep Persistent Slabs, and Dry Loose sluffs will be avalanche problems today and into tomorrow. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision making are essential today.” This rapid load contributed to a Considerable avalanche danger Saturday through Monday. We recommend conservative decision making as the snowpack continues to adjust to its new load over the next 24-48 hours. The avalanche report can be found here: https://hpavalanche.org/forecast/hatcherpass/ More information and a complete report will be posted at hpavalanche.org in the next 2 weeks.

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Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center is reporting that a 17-year-old snowboarder passed away after being caught in an avalanche on Monday in the Hatcher Pass area. In a preliminary report, HPAC Forecaster Allie Barker wrote that "It is believed that the victim strayed off his intended route and subsequently triggered an avalanche on a small slope which funneled into a terrain trap above a creek drainage. Terrain traps compound the risk of any avalanche, no matter the size. The slope was approximately 100’ tall."

RELATED: 5 Dead and 10 Missing After Peruvian Glacier Collapse

The area had received approximately three feet of snow in the two days preceding the incident, causing forecasters to rate avalanche danger as "considerable." For more information on how to stay safe in avalanche terrain, check out TGR's Safety Week series

About The Author

stash member Zack Skovron

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, now living in Jackson, WY. I’m an avid skier, biker, hiker, climber, and fisherman. Outside of sports, my major interests focus on public policy surrounding land use and energy systems.

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