17-Year-Old Killed by Avalanche on Hatcher Pass, AK | 18th Avalanche Fatality in the USA This Winter

AvyBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche
Hatcher Pass, avalanche, Alaska
The Hatcher Pass avalanche on 9th March 2020.

In an update on Facebook yesterday, Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center stated that the 17-year-old snowboarder who triggered an avalanche “to the west of the 16-mile road run” died of his injuries. Rescuers were able to dig him out and get him to the hospital where he was declared deceased.

The boy, whose name was not released, was caught in a creek drainage near Mile 16 of Palmer Fishhook Road, troopers said.

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 12:30 pm 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.
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.

-Allie Barker, Avalanche Forecaster

The avalanche center says that nearly three feet of snow have accumulated at Hatcher Pass since Saturday. This amount of snow is leading to an overload of weak layers with natural avalanche and human triggered avalanches likely, which will lead to avalanche problems through Tuesday. 33″ of snow fell in 2-days.

hatcher pass, Alaska
Hatcher Pass, AK

Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision making are essential when in the backcountry, according to the center. In an update, the center advised staying clear of the area until they perform an assessment of the area.

We are requesting that the public NOT SKI OR RIDE 16 MILE and stay out of the 16 mile area , from Fishhook Creek to Archangel tomorrow, Tuesday March 10th until 5 pm so avalanche forecasters can perform a site assessment of today’s avalanche accident. There is still avalanche danger in the area. Please spread the word so the professionals can do their job, and share what they find with the community. Thank you.

The latest snow total data shows that over 100 inches of snow has fallen this season.

The death is the 18th avalanche related death in the USA this winter.

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