Chugach National Forest Glacier District – April 20th, 2017 – Still Good Riding on Sargent Ice Field – Whittier Access to High Glaciers Offers Spectacular Views and Good Snow.

Reported by: CNFAIC: Updated 21-Apr-2016

April 15, 2017

Whittier offers the best access to the high glaciers of Sargent Ice Field in the Chugach National Forest. 

Spectacular 35 mile trek from Whittier to the Wolverine Glacier, which overlooks Paradise Lakes valley and Nellie Juan River, which drains Northeast from the lake into Kings Bay.

Snow is excellent up high with vantages above 5000′ to survey the magnificent beauty. 

Along the way, you will pass Blackstone Bay, Burns Glacier, Skookum Glacier, Spencer Glacier, Trail Glacier and several other unnamed glaciers, ending at Wolverine.

This should be on your bucket list!

Video Segment:  Sargeant Ice Field

Sargent Ice Field – 35 Mile Trek from Whittier over to Wolverine Glacier



Photo Credit Jerry Siok
Overlooking Willard Island in Blackstone Bay – ASC Board Member Dave Agosti
Heading to Burns Glacier which drains into Portage Lake
By Jerry Siok
Ice Fall – Sargent Ice Field
Jerry Siok – Overlooking Blackstone Bay and Prince William Sound




april 1st  – Skookum valley is now closed per cnf forest order

The area got hit with 2′ deep wet snow earlier this week and riding was fun and laborious…right up until the closure.  why does this area close for april??  worth an inquiry to the cnf.  very unfortunate!


MARCH 21, 2017 – the dry spell is over.  Member Ride to Skookum glacier.  EPIC pow DAY!  pictures tell all you need to know!

March 12, 2017 above Whittier, Alasks
Wind packed and cold frozen snow seems to be the common story from riders in the Northern CNF area on MARCH 12, 2017
Whittier was no exception today with 5F degree temperatures in the morning with warming into the high 20’s by the afternoon. 
The snow started to soften up in the afternoon but spring riding is still a few weeks away.  See attached pictures.

Whittier 3/12/2017
Chugach national Forest Avalanche Information Center
 The Bottom Line

LOW avalanche danger remains in the backcountry at all elevations. Although triggering an avalanche is unlikely, it is not impossible. With today’s daytime warming watch for East-through-South-through-West-facing slopes to heat up enough to initiate rollerballs and possibly some shallow wet loose avalanches. Other things to watch for are old hard wind slabs in steep rocky terrain, dry sluffs on steep slopes with soft snow and cornice falls loosening with the warmth. Glide cracks continue to open – limiting exposure under these is recommended.

Remember that good travel habits remain important, even during ‘green light conditions’. This includes exposing only one person at a time on a slope, watching your partners closely and having an escape route planned in case the snow moves. 

Summit Lake, South of Johnson Pass and North (in parts of the Girdwood Valley):  A reminder that the snowpack remains thinner in these areas with a poor structure. The chance for triggering an avalanche that breaks in the old weak layers is unlikely but not nonexistent. Read the Saturday Summit Summary HERE.

Primary Concern

Yesterday was the warmest day we have seen in almost two weeks. There were no reports of wet loose avalanches or significant roller ball activity but Southerly surfaces were warming up and becoming wet/damp. Today will be another day to pay attention to surface conditions in the afternoon on East to South to West slopes. Steeper slopes and slopes under rock bands will be most suspect. Keep a close eye on any warming taking place on the snow surface. Soft snow still sits on many slopes and roller balls could occur in these areas and a there is chance of shallow wet loose avalanche activity. Slopes with old sun crusts or wind slabs/crusts will be slower to be affected by the warming. 

Other things to keep in mind if you are headed to the mountains to enjoy these long sunny days:

Glide Avalanches:
Glide cracks continue to slowly open above popular terrain on Seattle Ridge and in other areas of the advisory area. These could release at any time, watch for these cracks and avoid being under them.

Wind Slabs:
Old and hard winds slabs are easy to find but for the most part they are locked into place. Steep rocky areas, where they are not supported from below, will be the most suspect zones for someone to pop one out. 

Loose Snow Avalanches (Sluffs):
Watch your sluff. Dry sluffs on steep slopes are probable and are getting larger by the day. And, as mentioned above, wet loose (or damp) sluffs, both natural and human triggered, may occur.

Cornices may start to loosen with the warming – as always, give these monsters a wide berth from above and limit exposure time traveling underneath.

Persistent Slabs and Deep Slabs:
There are various weak layers in our thin snowpack. Buried surface hoar sits 1-3+’ below the surface and faceted snow sits in the mid and base of the pack. These weak layers with varying degrees of strength are in a dormant stage due to plenty of time to adjust with a lack of changing weather. Although this means the layers are not producing avalanches, it doesn’t mean an outlier can’t occur which could cause a large avalanche breaking deeper in the pack. 

Glide cracks North of the uptrack. A series of cracks like these extend out Seattle Ridge to the North at this elevation.


Avalanche Conditions:   For the latest and complete avalanche report and snow conditions for this area, please click the following  link to take you to Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center (CNFAIC). 

Trail Status:  Under the same link above, open the Turnagain Pass Advisory and scroll down to the bottom of that page for the status of all motorized areas in the Northern district of Chugach National Forest.

Turnagain Pass Snowstake – DOT Road Weather Information System Camera