Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center

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ARCHIVED - Forecasts expire after 24 hours.
Sat, January 7th, 2023 - 7:00AM
Sun, January 8th, 2023 - 7:00AM
Jed Workman
Avalanche risk The Bottom Line

Stagnant and generally safe avalanche conditions will persist through the weekend.

Triggering an avalanche is very unlikely.

Firm conditions are widespread at all elevations, on all aspects.

Sliding for life is a concern on steep slopes.

Special Announcements

Tickets are available for Cabin Fever Reliever Fundraiser highlighting HOPE SOCIAL CLUB! on Feb 4th here.

Check out our events page.

HPAC swag is available at Backcountry Bike and Ski, Fishcreek Sales, and AMH.

XC trail grooming reports for Mat-Su, Anchorage, and Kenai can be found here. Motorized trails and access reports for HP here.

Sat, January 7th, 2023
Upper Elevation
Above 3,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Mid Elevation
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
Low Elevation
Below 2,500'
1 - Low
Avalanche risk
0 - No Rating
1 - Low
2 - Moderate
3 - Considerable
4 - High
5 - Extreme
Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk Avalanche risk
Travel Advice Generally safe avalanche conditions. Watch for unstable snow on isolated terrain features. Heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Evaluate snow and terrain carefully; identify features of concern. Dangerous avalanche conditions. Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making essential. Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Extraordinarily dangerous avalanche conditions. Avoid all avalanche terrain.
Likelihood of Avalanches Natural and human-triggered avalanches unlikely. Natural avalanches unlikely; human-triggered avalanches possible. Natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches likely. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely. Natural and human-triggered avalanches certain.
Avalanche Size and Distribution Small avalanches in isolated areas or extreme terrain. Small avalanches in specific areas; or large avalanches in isolated areas. Small avalanches in many areas; or large avalanches in specific areas; or very large avalanches in isolated areas. Large avalanches in many areas; or very large avalanches in specific areas. Very large avalanches in many areas.
Recent Avalanches

No natural or human-triggered avalanches have been observed since December 23rd.

Avalanche Problem 1
  • Normal Caution
    Normal Caution
Normal Caution
Normal Caution means triggering an avalanche is unlikely but not impossible.
More info at Avalanche.org

The best word to describe current conditions is FIRM.

Strong Christmas winds transformed Hatcher Pass from a powder mecca to today’s frozen wasteland of widespread firm snow surface conditions. Firm snow (hard slab) are unreactive and a few inches to up to approximately 6 feet thick.  Apparently, you can’t have the best without the worst, or so Alaska has taught me. All is not lost as the groomers have kept up with the XC and motorized trails. Yesterday was cold, sunny, and beautiful, and the trails were in good condition.

But we need more snow to make off-trail backcountry use enjoyable again. On a good note, the surface is beginning to soften through the faceting process, but not fast enough. It would be great to either get a big dump of fresh snow, or severe clear skies and 20 below Fahrenheit for a week. Either would improve and soften the surface conditions.

In the meantime, avalanche stability has increased, weak layers are compressing and gaining strength, and propagation potential is decreasing. It’s murphy’s law I guess, as this season some of the best conditions have come with some of the more dangerous avalanche hazards, and the worst conditions, well, at least now, next to no avalanche hazard.

While the likelihood of triggering an avalanche is very low on the probability scale, it’s important to recognize that we can’t completely ever rule it out. Continue to build good habits, even in this snow and avalanche drought.

Some conditions images from yesterday:

Boot penetration in millimeters


Heavy widespread wind effect, shown clearly here on Bullion Mountain, SE, 4800′ on the Willow side of the Pass.


Sastrugi at Hatcher Pass proper







Sat, January 7th, 2023

The next chance for precipitation appears to be Sunday, but at this point we only expect a dusting.

NWS AVG Forecast here.

Current Version AVG Discussion

233 PM AKST Fri Jan 6 2023 .

Gap winds will strengthen along the coastal mountains tonight through Saturday out ahead of a complex of lows tracking out of the Pacific and into the Gulf of Alaska. Otherwise, mostly clear and cold conditions will prevail. Forecast confidence has dropped for later this weekend and into early next week due to uncertainty in the track of multiple lows across the Gulf. With the main low center now expected to be farther south on Saturday, the arrival of precipitation in Southcentral has been delayed. A leading warm front may bring some light snow to the Cordova Mountains as early as Saturday afternoon. However, precipitation looks much likelier overnight Saturday night into Sunday as a short-wave trough lifts northward toward Southcentral. Expect snow to overspread coastal mountains on up into the Copper River Basin by Sunday, with a chance of snow spreading west to Hatcher Pass and the front range of the Chugach/Anchorage. Snow levels will remain fairly low, starting at sea level Saturday night and rising to 500 ft to 1000 ft in the Prince William Sound region. This generally looks like a light QPF event. The trend is toward more QPF in the Cordova /Valdez mountains and a little less in the eastern Kenai Peninsula for the weekend.

NWS point forecast here.

Marmot Weather Station here.

Independence Mine Snotel here.

State Parks Snow Report and Motorized Access information here.

Mat-Su XC trail grooming report here.

Recent Observations for Hatcher Pass