Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Moab Area Mountains Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Saturday - February 24, 2018 - 6:51am
bottom line

The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE today on steep slopes that face NW-N-E right around treeline and above, especially on slopes that have recent deposits of wind drifted snow. Human triggered avalanches up to 3' deep are likely in these areas. Backcountry travelers need to practice cautious route finding and make conservative decisions. The avalanche danger is MODERATE below treeline.




special announcement

Episode 5 of the UAC podcast "To Hell in a Heartbeat - A Conversation With Tom Diegel and Matt Clevenger About the 12.26.08 Full Burial on Little Water" is live. Matt and Tom talk about the avalanche documented in To Hell in a Heartbeat. Check it out on ITunes, Stitcher, the UAC blog.‚Äč

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current conditions

Yesterday's storm turned out to be all blow and no snow, at least for the La Sal Mountains. Meanwhile to the south, heavy snow hit the Abajos with Buckboard Flat receiving 14" with much more up high. Neverthess, the La Sals have picked up about 15" of snow since Monday and conditions are greatly improved. The snowpack is still thin but we now have a skiable and rideable base with 42" on the ground at 10,000' in Gold Basin. Use caution and tread lightly as there are many obstacles lying just below the surface. Winds have finally tapered off and shifted to the NW blowing in the teens along the ridgetops. It's a frigid 0 degrees at the Geyser Pass Trailhead.

Base depth in Gold Basin: 42" Base depth at Geyser Pass Trailhead: 30"

New snow totals in Gold Basin.

Snow totals at the Geyser Pass Trailhead, (9600')

Wind, temperature, and humidity on Pre Laurel Peak (11,700')

Road conditions to Geyser Pass Trailhead: Grand County plowed on Tuesday. The is snowpacked and icy in places. 4wd is recommended.

Grooming conditions: Trails were last groomed through Gold Basin on Tuesday.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

We've added a little more weight to our fragile snowpack this week and though I haven't heard any recent reports of collapsing, stability tests continue to show propagation on weak, sugary, faceted snow at the base of the snowpack. In many areas the weight of a skier or rider is all that it will take to trigger a persistent slab avalanche up to 3' deep. The danger is greatest on steep slopes, right around treeline and above, that face NW-N-E, especially if these slopes are overloaded with recent deposits of wind drifted snow and human triggered avalanches remain likely in these areas.

The snowpit below illustrates the unstable base we are dealing with. An extended column test produced propagation failure on weak, faceted snow at the ground. ECTP 21

Avalanche Problem 2
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

Southerly winds throughout the week have created wind slabs in upper elevation, wind exposed terrain. Most of these slabs should be gaining some strength, but you should continue to avoid any steep slope where the snow has a smooth, rounded appearance, or where you can detect recent deposits of wind drifted snow. The danger is greatest on steep terrain right around treeline and above that faces NW-N-E. In these areas, a triggered wind slab has the very real potential to step down causing a deeper and more dangerous persistent slab avalanche.

weather

It's going to be mostly sunny and cold today with moderate WNW winds blowing along the ridge tops. High temps at 10,000' will be in the mid teens but wind chill factors will be well below zero. A few clouds later today will bring a chance for scattered showers tonight.

general announcements

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This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done. This advisory is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.