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Forecasters urge backcountry caution this weekend amid avalanche danger around Turnagain Pass

  • Author: Vicky Ho
  • Updated: January 25, 2019
  • Published January 25, 2019

Matt Suddock, of Anchorage, returns from a backcountry ski as a light rain falls at Turnagain Pass on Wednesday. The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center continues to operate during the partial government shutdown. Information and advisories about conditions at Turnagain Pass and other areas can be found at (Marc Lester / ADN)

A special avalanche bulletin is in effect for much of the weekend due to heavy snowfall and an unstable snowpack at Turnagain Pass and parts of Turnagain Arm, according to the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center.

Avalanche danger remains considerable “due to 2-5+ feet of snow that has fallen on an unstable base,” according to the bulletin issued Friday afternoon by the avalanche center. “Despite improving weather, human triggered large avalanches will remain likely on slopes steeper than 30 degrees at elevations above 1,500’.”

The bulletin, which applies to Turnagain Pass and the mountains in and around the eastern side of Turnagain Arm, will be in effect from 6 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday.

The center urged backcountry travelers to avoid terrain 30 degrees or higher in steepness, and areas underneath avalanche terrain.

“Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision making skills will be necessary to identify and avoid unstable slopes,” the center said.

The bulletin does not apply to ski areas and highways where avalanche mitigation work is performed.

In Friday’s avalanche advisory for the Turnagain area, avalanche specialist Heather Thamm wrote that backcountry travel was not recommended as avalanche danger was high above 2,000 feet, with remote-triggered avalanches possible. Avalanche danger for the area Friday remained considerable at and below treeline.

For the most up-to-date information about avalanche conditions in the Turnagain area, visit the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center website at CNFAIC issues daily avalanche advisories each morning.

Visit the Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center website for information about conditions there; avalanche advisories are issued each Saturday. For avalanche observations and information from other regions, visit