[VIDEO] Huge D4 Avalanche at Alyeska Resort, AK, Was a “30-Year Event”

SnowBrains | | AvalancheAvalanche

Alyeska Resort, AK, experienced a D4 avalanche on Thursday, May 11th, 2023, on a section of the North Face that the mountain team was closely monitoring. The avalanche crown was between 6-10 feet and likely slid on the November 22nd crust. The snow piled in the kettle ponds on the mountain, causing them to overflow and flood the tram base, and drained into the hotel pond. Other avalanches also slid under Shadows and Max’s. More are anticipated from Headwall and Moneys and are being closely watched. The Daylodge parking lot will remain closed until further notice.

North face, Alyeska, avalanche
One of the North Face entrances. Credit: SnowBrains

Full statement from Alyseka below:

This 30-year event was something our team was watching out for. It is the main reason why all mountain travel is restricted except Chair 7 and Chair 3. North Face has also been closed and roped off since 4/25. It’s important to note that winter mitigation methods such as explosives have not been proven to be successful with wet meltdown avalanches. The upper bowl was closed to all mountain travel, therefore would have been impossible to perform any mitigation efforts without putting our team at great risk.

“We kindly request the collaboration of the public during this time. It is crucial that everyone respects the boundaries and avoids the mountain, especially the North Face area, which had already been closed to the public out of concern regarding the snowpack, as well as the water overflow area. Your cooperation will greatly assist our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and security of everyone.” -Jeff Bristow, Snow Safety Director.

“We understand that incidents like this within our community may raise questions or concerns, and we want to address them openly. Yesterday’s event could not have been avoided and occurred on terrain that was closed to any mountain travel. Alyeska, as with other resorts with similar wet spring melt-down conditions, does not undertake avalanche mitigation efforts due to the fact that wet melt-down avalanches don’t react in the same way to standard winter mitigation efforts.” -Duane Stutzman, Mountain General Manager

The original avalanche mitigation safety plan, designed for the resort and the North Face functioned exceptionally well. In our ongoing commitment to safety, this event has identified possible future improvements that will be discussed by our Senior Mountain Leadership team to enhance the resort’s overall avalanche safety mitigation plan.

We thank the local authorities and the public for their collaboration.

A D4-sized avalanche is the second highest on the scale from D1-D5 and ‘could destroy a railroad car, large truck, several buildings or a substantial amount of forest.’

Alyeska trail map.

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