Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Moab Area Mountains Issued by Eric Trenbeath for Thursday - January 11, 2018 - 7:04am
special announcement

This advisory will be updated intermittently with a general conditions report until snow coverage is sufficient for winter travel.

Grand County will be plowing this morning. They will close the gate during operations, likely between 9 and 11. If you make it up before the plow expect deep, rutted snow with up to 10" at the parking lot.

Grooming: Matt will be grooming today.

We've scheduled our annual Backcountry 101 avalanche course for Feb 2,3. For more information or to register go here.

We've also scheduled a Motorized Backcountry 101 for snowmobiles and snowbikes. For more information or to register go here.

current conditions

Skies are clear this morning, WNW are averaging 10-15 mph along ridge tops, and it's 15 degrees at the Geyser Pass Trailhead. It is finally starting to look like winter up there with accumulated snow since Monday totaling 12" of moderately dense snow at 1.2" of water. Base depth at Geyser Pass Trailhead is 12" with up to 18" at Geyser Pass. Coverage is still exceedingly thin and backcountry travel off the roads is not recommended.

The intrepid Reed Kennard ventured up the Laurel Ridge yesterday and submitted our first observation of the season. Thanks Reed!

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

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

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
over the next 24 hours

The overall thin coverage, and lack of accessibility to avalanche terrain negate an overall danger rating at this time. Yesterday however, the underlying snowpack was already demonstrating it's inability to support a new load. Reed Kennard reported several collapses in his travels, and in my snowmobile foray up to Geyser Pass, I was able to observe cracking in any steep bank that I rode the machine on to. What this means is that we have a developing persistent slab problem where older, weak, sugary, faceted snow near the ground is providing an unstable base for future snow loads. Most of this weak, faceted snow can be found on northerly facing slopes between about 9500' and 11,500'. The extreme upper elevations were mostly blown clean prior to this last storm. For now, the potential for triggering an avalanche is very isolated however, travelers wandering into steep sided gullies, or mountaineers venturing in to more radical terrain, could trigger a shallow avalanche down to the rocks. This condition will only worsen with the next snow load.

Steep banks along the road would easily crack under the weight of a passing snow machine. I dug out the small section with my hand.


High pressure will again build over the region leaving us under sunny skies for the next several days. High temps today at 10,000' will be in the mid 20's, and northwesterly winds will average 10-15 mph along ridgetops.

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.