According to KTUU News, Hatcher Pass, Alaska reopened Wednesday night after being closed on November 24th due to an avalanche that left the road buried in as much as 14 feet of snow. A skier has been missing on Hatcher Pass, AK since November 23nd, two days prior to the avalanche.
“Its taken them now a couple of days to get through about 100 feet wide and 14 feet deep of snow.” – Jill Reese, Alaska Department of Transportation
The Department of Transportation crews were prohibited from working on the pass the first few days in order to allow the snow and weather to stabilize. Long-time local residents were stating that this was the longest the pass has been closed in the past 38 years. The Hatcher Pass Avalanche Center is urging people to use caution when entering the backcountry via the Hatcher Pass.
“You could describe it probably like tiny tiny bits of Styrofoam that you could not mash together, it’s like the worst text book material that comes from the sky that you could ever have, they call them ice pellets,” said Warren Petrasek, a Hatcher Pass resident.
On Tuesday, December 1st Alaska State Troopers suspended the search for a skier that has been missing in the Hatcher Pass area since November 23rd. The troopers are awaiting a time to find 33-year-old Liam Walsh, after weekend efforts using a helicopter with a special antenna to locate his avalanche beacon failed.
Walsh, who was last heard from on November 23rd, disappeared about two days before the large avalanche that blocked the road on Hatcher Pass. Search crews will be unable to do a ground search until the weather clears, avalanche mitigation work is done, and debris are cleared.
“Even if they do have favorable weather, they’d have to do mitigation, and while they’re doing mitigation weather could move in,” stated Megan Peters, a Trooper Spokeswoman.
Hatcher Pass is a mountain pass through the southwest part of the Talkeetena Mountains, Alaska that was named after Robert Hatcher, a prospector and miner. The elevation of the pass is about 3,886 feet and offers superb skiing that has a rich heritage. Miners and local residents used rope-tows in the early 1930’s near the Hatcher Pass that served as the only access to the amazing skiing that was offered in that area. Skiing on the Hatcher Pass offers optimal conditions from September to late April.
The Willow Creek mining district at Hatcher Pass is historically the third-largest lode-gold producing district in Alaska, having produced 624,000 oz of gold. The pass also offers up some great mountain biking trails, such as the Gold Mint Trail. Hatcher Pass is a great recreational destination when seeking activities such as Nordic Skiing, down-hill skiing, mountain climbing, rock climbing, white water kayaking, mountain biking, paragliding, berry picking, gold mining, snowboarding, hiking, and camping.