Higher than Normal Avalanche Hazards on the Chilkoot Trail
Contact: Tim Steidel, 907-983-9225
National Park Service officials at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway have issued an alert about heavy snow levels on the Chilkoot Trail.The extended cool spring temperatures and delayed snow melt at higher elevations have created a significantly greater hazard potential for avalanches occurring on the Canadian side of trail, north of the Chilkoot Pass to Deep Lake, for early season hikers.The forecasted warmer weather means the spring avalanche cycle could hit just as the first hikers begin their trip.
The trail is mostly clear from Dyea to Sheep Camp Campground and the avalanche hazard between Sheep Camp and the Chilkoot Pass remains moderate, particularly in the area above Long Hill.Hikers will encounter constant snow pack from Long Hill to Deep Lake and should plan to leave Sheep Camp at first-light (4 am) to avoid post-holing and increased avalanche hazard. Afternoon solar heating can cause unstable snow loads.The forecasted sunny weather for the next week should significantly diminish the avalanche hazard on the United States side of the trail by the first week of June.The opposite is true, however, for the Canadian side of the trail.Parks Canada has issued the following special travel advisory for hikers choosing to continue north between the Chilkoot Pass and Deep Lake:"Visitor safety is a top priority for Parks Canada. Parks Canada is recommending that trail hikers avoid solo travel and take extra precautions for the increased avalanche danger between Sheep Camp and Happy Camp. Parks Canada recommends visitors carry avalanche rescue gear (transceiver, probe and shovel) and be trained and prepared for self-rescue. Snowshoes and trekking poles are advised for travel on snow. Avalanche zones will be marked, and hikers are urged to travel early in the day and not to stop in avalanche areas. Avalanche risk increases during the day or when there has not been a good overnight freeze."
U.S. and Parks Canada trail personnel will begin regular patrols on June 2 and plan to have normal snow routes marked for public orientation by that time.In the meantime, hiking beyond the Chilkoot Pass is not recommended for backcountry travelers unless they are trained in the use of avalanche rescue equipment and route finding.
The National Park Service and Parks Canada will be monitoring trail conditions. Beginning June 2, 2013, the Skagway Trail Center, jointly managed by Parks Canada – Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Site and the National Park Service - Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, will be open.Permits are required to hike the Chilkoot Trail beginning June 2.
Visitors are encouraged to check the trail conditions on Parks Canada's website (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/chilkoot), the National Park Service website (http://www.nps.gov/klgo/planyourvisit/chilkoottrail.htm), follow NPS social media, or contact Parks Canada directly for up-to-date conditions (1-800-661-0486).Visitors can attain information by calling 907-983-9234 between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
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