After a series of mid-February storms, Hatcher Pass, located just outside of Palmer, Alaska, experienced at least four major avalanches during the storm that buried the road. A few additional smaller ones slid as well, adding to the debris. Since then the pass has been closed from Mile Marker 11, just past the Skeetawk ski area, all the way to the Independence Mine State Historical Park’s lower parking lot and lodge.
The slides buried Hatcher Pass Road in over 30 feet of snow. They were reported as some of the largest slides the area has experienced since the 1980s. Overall totals shocked clean-up crews as there was much more than initially expected.
After the initial slides in February, crews were able to clear the road up to Mile 14, the Gold Mint Trailhead parking lot. However, due to staffing shortages within the Alaska Department of Transportation work had to be temporarily suspended. An avalanche specialist had to be onsite during debris removal. New avalanche concerns around the region surrounding the Seward Highway took priority. Since the department had limited resources and priorities shifted, Hatcher Pass remained impassable, until now.
After months of being closed, crews have finally cleared the debris littering the pass, just in time to enjoy the sunny spring conditions. Hatcher pass offers access to many trailheads popular for backcountry and cross country skiing. With the road passable again outdoor enthusiasts can finally access their favorite trails as well as the Independence Mine State Historical Park and its lodge.