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Skier triggers avalanche as risk rises in snowy Hatcher Pass

People venturing into Hatcher Pass to enjoy the snow should be aware of treacherous avalanche conditions, the Alaska Avalanche Information Center said Sunday.

The center said "considerable" avalanche danger exists above 2,500 feet elevation in the popular Matanuska-Susitna Borough recreation area, north of Anchorage.

"Many factors in the snowpack and weather are stacking up to produce avalanches," the center wrote in an avalanche forecast for Hatcher Pass Sunday.

The forecast said that early season snow combined with rain crust "provide a perfect weak layer/bed"  for avalanches.

Snowfall expected Sunday would increase avalanche risk, the center said.

A skier triggered a "soft slab" avalanche that was 1,000 feet wide and 3 feet deep in Hatcher Pass on Saturday afternoon in the Hatch Mountain area, below April Bowl, according to a report on the Alaska Avalanche Information Center's website.

Three skiers were traversing a slope on the way back to their car when the third skier "triggered an avalanche and was swept down" about 400 feet, the report said.

"He was only partially buried and did not sustain any injuries," according to the report.

On Facebook, Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center reported a "near miss" in the front range Saturday. A skier reported triggering a hard slab slide at 3,600 feet near Powerline Pass in Chugach State Park above Anchorage.