Hatcher Pass Lodge sees return of guests three weeks after major snowstorm
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage picked up just over a foot of snow on Saturday, bringing the total amount of snow currently on the ground to just under 30 inches. If you think that’s a lot, try having to deal with three to four times that amount, and in a remote area like Hatcher Pass.
All that snow is causing several big challenges to everyday life at the Hatcher Pass Lodge.
Picture a cozy group of small cabins surrounding a main gathering lodge on a stretch of land that’s located 14 miles away from the nearest city, and 3,800 feet above sea level. Many would consider this a peaceful and breathtaking spot to unplug and bond with mother nature. Now, take that same location and add 100 inches of snow, much higher snow drifts, and the threat of avalanches all around, and you have a scene for an epic Alaskan adventure that even the hardiest outdoor winter enthusiast would find challenging.
Since an intense snowstorm on Valentine’s Day dumped nearly 4 feet of snow over the area — almost doubling what was already on the ground since December — Hatcher Pass Lodge has been essentially cut off from the outside world. Pictures and video taken since then have shown snow piles and drifts as tall as the small cabins on the property.
Hatcher Pass Lodge has gone three weeks without cabin guests as travel could only be done by snowmachine or helicopter. Food and other essential supplies are still making it to the lodge this way. While such conditions happen every few years, this winter has left manager Jeff Polk simply amazed.
“It looks like the ocean, with just waves of snow drifts,” Polk said. “I would say this is the most snow I’ve ever seen in my entire life, let alone up here in Hatcher Pass, and I’ve been here for 15 years.”
Polk said that within the past week, guests have started returning to the lodge, using the helicopter to get to their cabins. The Hatcher Pass Road will remain closed above mile post 14, but the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities began clearing avalanche debris on Monday.
Crews started clearing the lower part of the pass up to the Gold Mint trailhead parking lot. This will then become a staging area for preparing and launching explosives later this week for additional avalanche control.
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