With a storm coming in for the weekend, it's extremely important to map the pre-existing snow to know if the either wind blown snow and new snow will overload any weak layers. In this case, the weak layer will be the present snow surface. The long period of clear skies this past week or more has created very weak snow on the surface, which we call near-surface faceted snow as well as surface hoar. The strong sun created slick sun crusts on the sun exposed slopes. So here is the general snow surface pattern by aspect and elevation:
Here's a good recent video from Brett Kobernik:
We all need to take the time to practice with our avalanche rescue equipment... It's easy to do, doesn't take much time, helps to make sure our equipment is functioning correctly, and could go along way towards saving lives in the backcountry.
Here's a short video we did of our practice in the Tony Grove Area yesterday, (12-10-2014)
Looking over the last 10 winters at the avalanche fatalities across the state. What's the trend? Where do they occur...and to whom? One might look at a running average of 4 fatalities/year against explosive growth in backcountry use over the past 10 years and draw any number of conclusions.
At first glance, one might be lulled into looking at these numbers as numbers; but in truth each number is a person - a friend, husband, wife, child, or colleague. The numbers belie the real stories punctuated by real events with real people affected by close calls and, unfortunately, tragedy.
Weeks of high pressure and a slowly rehabbing meniscus have got me to thinking on a few things, which is usually a dangerous proposition.
We live beyond - as the author and historian Wallace Stegner described - the 100th meridian in North America, a rough approximation of the dividing line between those lands which require irrigation...and those that don't. Any prospective student of the arid West will know of the one armed major pushing off from Green River Wyoming in 1869 and will soon have a bookshelf full of books like Reisner's Cadillac Desert and Stegner's Beyond the 100th Meridian,...
Shopping for a Christmas beacon for yourself of someone you love? The amazing Steve Achelis has done a major update to his popular site, BeaconReviews.com. Steve has painstakinglly tested and reviewed all the beacons. It's the only independent beacon review site I'm aware of. And he has done this on his own dime, just because it's a job that needs to be done.
Here's a sample page of the beacon comparison page:
Steve is also the same guy who published the Wasatch Backcountry Skiing map, which is the definitive source for all the place names for backcountry runs in the Wasatch. I...
For Immediate Release
Contacts: Craig Gordon 801-231-2170Trent Meisenheimer: (801) 455-7239Utah Avalanche Centerhttp://www.utahavalanchecenter.org
KNOWLEDGE IS POWDER VIDEO FOR SNOWMOBILERS
SALT LAKE CITY, November 4, 2012 -- Utah Avalanche Center—public safety in avalanche terrain.
The Utah Avalanche Center, with major funding from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, has released an exciting 9-minute, avalanche safety video for snowmobilers. Starting today, you can view it on Vimeo and it will be available for...
photos: Graham Robertson
Reprint, with permission from Backcountry Magazine. For hardcopy, follow this link.
Drew Hardesty has spent the last 15 years forecasting for the Utah Avalanche Center, the last 10 as a Jenny Lake Climbing Ranger in the Teton Range. In most cases, he views risk as being collectively assumed rather than personally accepted.
Wow, it's been an exciting week. Last weekend, the largest storm of the year so far slammed down 3 feet of snow in the upper Cottonwood Canyons, which easily overloaded the extremely fragile layer of depth hoar near the ground. Then on Tuesday, a warm and windy event capped the powder with dense wind deposits. A number of both natural and remotely triggered avalanches broke deep and wide.
This is an aspect-elevation rose of the avalanche activity from the last week. You can see that all the avalanches have been on elevations above 9,000' and on slopes facing northwest, north and ...
With a potentially significant storm rolling into Utah for Saturday through Monday, here's an avalanche primer on what to expect:
The day before a major winter storm is forecast to arrive, you will see all of us avalanche geeks out mapping the distribution pattern of the preexisting snow. Answering the questions: 1. Where is the weak snow? 2) How weak is it? 3) What is the pattern? The answers to these questions will tell you where we will find avalanche danger once we slam a slab of snow down on top of it. Here is what I found in my fieldwork yesterday:
Last weekend with just a...
It’s that time of the season when those of us who are brave enough to maneuver around the shallowly buried rocks and stumps are eager to get out and immerse ourselves in the snow for the first time. As I age I’ve learned to be patient but I remember getting out on steep slopes the first chance I got. I’d take the rock skis or snowboard out and descend through new snow for the first time not being too worried about clobbering a few rocks. Often times I wouldn’t be too worried about avalanches either.
But the start of each season is different and it’s never too early to start thinking about...