Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Skyline Area Mountains Issued by Craig Gordon for March 31, 2014 - 6:41am
special announcement

We've wrapped up forecasting on the Skyline for the winter and in a few weeks I'll have my toes in white sand and blue Caribbean water. However, I couldn't leave without thanking a truly awesome cast of characters. Brett Kobernik helped pull this program together and it's a pleasure to work with such a skilled forecaster and solid colleague. Also, my partners in crime Trent Meisenheimer and Cody Hughes who helped with outreach and education, along with forecasting and observations. Both of you deserve a huge shout out. In addition, without the weekly snow and avalanche observations by Steve Cote and Darce Trotter we'd be lost at sea. Thanks guys... you're the best!

Our appreciation wouldn't be complete without thanking Cade and Brian Beck along with SnowBigDeal.com for all their continued support of the UAC and this great community.

And finally, thanks to all of you who helped support this program by attending our annual fundraisers and classes and by submitting snow and avalanche observations.

Partnerships are huge to the Skyline advisory program and hi-end, state-of-the-art sleds make all the difference, allowing us to visit more terrain and issue more accurate advisories. We couldn't do this without the great support from Jared and the crew at Big Pine Sports along with Arctic Cat.

current conditions

In general you can count on several types of avalanche conditions in the spring. Whenever we get a storm the avalanche danger will rise, as the new snow might not bond well to the existing hard, slick crust it falls on. As always, recent avalanche activity as well as cracking and collapsing of the snowpack are dead giveaways the snow is unstable. Even if these clues don’t present themselves, be sure to do some tests on smaller slopes that are similar in aspect, elevation and slope angle to what you want to ride on. Choose test slopes that have minimal consequences, especially after a significant snowfall. A well placed slope cut will give you a good feel for the stability of the slope. If there is much wind associated with the storm or if there is snow available for transport before it gets cooked into place, expect to find potentially unstable wind slabs on leeward slopes.

Also, when the sun first comes out and the snow goes through its initial rapid warm up, avalanches will be likely on steep slopes. You can expect the usual round of wet slides, but fortunately new snow instabilities tend to stabilize rather quickly in the spring due to the warm temperatures. When the snowpack goes several nights without a good solid refreeze, deep wet slab avalanches are possible, especially in steep, rocky terrain. Given this year’s unusually weak basal snow, I’d expect to see large avalanches breaking to the ground. These will be tree snapping, bone shattering, sled crushing avalanches… you get the picture. During the heat of the day you’ll want to get off of and out from underneath steep slopes and avoid terrain traps such as gullies or steep road cuts where cement-like debris will pile up very deeply.

The Skyline Summit is white and Steve's snowstake at Miller Flat clearly shows it's been a good spring on the Skyline!

Archived trip reports are found here.

general announcements

We're still interested in snow and avalanche information. If you see anything we should know about, please participate in the creation of our own community avalanche advisory by submitting snow and avalanche conditions.   You can call me directly at 801-231-2170, email craig@utahavalanchecenter.org, or email by clicking HERE

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The information in this advisory is from the US Forest Service which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.

Have a safe spring and summer. See you back here when the snow flies.