Turnagain Pass Avalanche Danger Extraordinarily High
Wednesday brought specifically severe warning
ANCHORAGE - The avalanche danger in Turnagain Pass was high on Wednesday, so high that officials weren’t mincing words to describe it. The official online advisory for Turnagain Pass from the Chugach National Forest noted that conditions would make Wednesday “…the most likely day for somebody to die in an avalanche.”
But the dire warning didn’t stop people from coming to the pass to snowmachine and enjoying a break in the weather, including Jessy Walz. Walz was taking precautions to make sure he stayed safe, including riding low on the flats and steering clear of steep slopes.
“You can see stuff moving up there that wasn’t moving before, “said Walz. “So it’s not time to play up high yet.”
But not everyone was as cautious. Tiny trails formed where some riders had headed straight up the mountain.
“They’re having fun but I wouldn’t do it,” said another rider, Ryan Beachy. Beachy didn’t read the advisory but said he had no trouble believing that it was true.
“Look at the mountain,” said Beachy. “There’s a huge slide over there. Everybody’s riding a half-mile away from it, but if it slides there it could slide here.”
In fact, you needn’t have looked far to see signs that slopes at the pass were ripe for an avalanche.
“I was in the ’99 avalanche and dug out friends for seven days, so that was something that won’t be experienced by me again,” said Nelson.
Nelson couldn’t resist a ride through the trees on Wednesday but said in every way he could, he’d be playing it safe.