As of March 30th, COAC has suspended backcountry avalanche advisories and pro observations until further notice.

On March 23rd, Governor Brown of Oregon issued Stay at Home orders for the public regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. The directives are clear in that “to the maximum extent possible, individuals stay at home or in their place of residence.” On March 27th the Deschutes National Forest issued a closure of all developed recreation sites including trailheads and snoparks. COAC is committed to supporting our community, local emergency services, and agency partners and because of this we felt it important to cease operations as we all work together to minimize the impacts and spread of COVID-19.   

This decision was not taken lightly. Aside from the need to maintain congruency with the Governors' orders, there are inherent risks with backcountry activities in alpine environments and it’s important to consider unnecessary exposure to COAC forecasters, first responders, and local medical staff in light of the current situation.

We look forward to getting back into the mountains and providing you all with the tools to recreate safely in the backcountry. Until then we thank you for your continued support and wish all our mountain community the best of health and wellness.

Avalanche on Three Fingered Jack, Partial Burial

Location Name
Three Fingered Jack
Santiam Pass Area (including Three Finger Jack)
Rex Shepard
Email Address
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I would like this observation to be published on the site
Date and time of avalanche (best estimate if unknown)
Red Flags
Recent loading by new snow, wind, or rain
Rapid warming
Avalanche Type
Trigger type
Air temperature
Below Freezing
Air temperature trend
Bed Surface
Storm Snow
Cloud Cover
Weak Layer
Old Snow
Crown Height
4 ft
Avalanche Width
Avalanche Length
Near Treeline
More detailed information about the weather

Clear bluebird skies, rapid warming, no wind. Below freezing but warming fast.

Number of people caught
Number of partial burials
More detailed information about the avalanche

We skiinned all night from Jack Lack Campground. We reached the base of Three Fingered Jack after about three hours. We had our sites set on climbing and skiing the couloirs, but knew we would have to find a good place to analyze the snowpack.We got ahead of ourselves and didn't pay enough attention to the signs. Rapid warming, heavy windload from a recent storm, and horrible bonding. I dug around in the snow on the ridgeline we were skinning to look for potential layers but didn't notice anything significant. My skiing partner was ahead and was traversing across the slope. I was tailing behind poking my poles as deep into the snowpack as possible to look for layers. Halfway across the slope i began to get very concerned. Rocks were starting to let loose (rapid warmup) and I discovered a layer with my pole about 4 feet deep which was not on the ridgeline. I was getting ready to rip skins off when all of a sudden the entire slope brokeI was caught.  I travelled about 400 ft in the slide and was buried up to Chest. Almost got sent into some trees.My skiing partner only travelled 200 feet in the slide and did not get buried.Very scary and I feel extremely lucky. Upon digging myself out, I realized that my ski binding toepiece broke. Volle strapped my ski to my boot so I could skin back to the car.