Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Uintas Area Mountains Issued by Craig Gordon for Sunday - October 22, 2017 - 5:31pm
special announcement

THANK YOU to everyone who attended last nights wildly successful Boondockers premiere at The Depot.... what an amazing night! Of course, we couldn't pull this off without the incredible support we get from all of you... so a HUGE shout out to everyone who was part Saturday nights gig. What makes this event more successful each year is Dan Gardiner and his ridiculously talented Boondockers crew including- Aaron and Cody Case, Ryan and Randy Searle, Christian Koenig, Jesse O’Rourke, Charles Bluth, Rick Barker, Kris Kaltenbacher , Adam Onasch, Kim Onasch, Ryan Nelson, Zak Collings , David Napier, Shane Kynaston , Matt Entz, Jackie DeWolfe, and Ashley Chaffin. I am deeply grateful for your commitment to help us spread the avalanche gospel.

In addition... a ginormous thanks to Cal Taylor and the Utah Snowmobile Association for helping offset last nights costs by donating $1000 which ultimately helps our collective goal of saving more lives.

A packed house o' stoke fills The Depot at last nights annual Boondockers/UAC Fundraiser.

We have another awesome event approaching quickly:

10th Annual Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop

Snowbird, Saturday November 4th

New for 2017!

A breakout session designed specifically for sledders by sledders, to address the unique needs and considerations of motorized users in the backcountry. This will help set the stage for future snowmobile and snowbike workshops. You’ll learn from avalanche experts and fellow riders, and brush up your skills before the start of the season. The morning sled specific breakout session (from 8:00-9:40) is free due to the generous support from the Utah Snowmobile Association! Sign up here

But wait… there’s more! We encourage everyone to stay for the rest of the day. From 10 am to 5 pm we'll have a series of presentations to help all backcountry users better understand avalanches and how to stay safe. Sign up here

Regional avalanche workshops are the most time and cost effective way to build and refresh advanced avalanche skills available. We encourage pre-registration at $36, which closes on Thursday, November 2nd at noon. After that, you can get tickets for $45 at the door. Lunch, coffee/beverage service, and post workshop happy hour is included.

This is a high-level continuing education opportunity meant to give the avalanche community access to the latest and greatest information. This is the only avalanche workshop in Utah addressing snow science, decision-making, the changing backcountry, and lessons learned from recent accidents.

You’ll learn from and network with forecasters, patrollers, snow scientists, highway avalanche crews, search & rescue personnel, mountain guides, ski industry manufacturers, backcountry skiers & snowboarders, snowmobilers, avalanche researchers, and more. The format will be 15 minute presentations followed by Q&A. There will be sponsor booths with the latest gear and gear give-aways.


07:30-08:00 Registration

08:00-09:40- Sled breakout session- Wasatch Room

08:00-08:05 Welcome

08:05-08:20 The changing face of backcountry riding- Randy Sugihara

08:25-08:45 Snowbike Avalanche Considerations- What’s different about outreach, education, and forecasting for snowbike specific zones- Brett Kobernik

08:50-09:10 The Evolution of Avy Education for Snowmobilers- How the tragic death of a highly skilled rider helped shape the direction of avalanche education for sledders in Utah- Kim Reid and Craig Gordon

09:15-09:35 Highmarking, Bookdocking, Hill Climbing should we dig snowpits? It's vital to know what's happening in the snow under your track. Understand the avalanche problems to know when digging a snowpit may save your life- Mark Staples

Open registration- 09:15-10:00

General session open to public- 10:00-17:00-Cliff Ballroom

10:00-10:05 Welcome

(Changing climate… changing snowpack)

10:05-10:20 Utah Winter Review 2016-17: A video narrative recounting the 2016-17 winter.

10:25-10:45 Birthday chutes close call. A survivor’s first hand account of events that led to a large human triggered slide and happy ending- Sam (or Mark Staples)

10:50-11:10 Adjusting to a different snowpack in the Salt Lake Mountains- How a warm, wet winter created a coastal snowpack in many regions while Alta’s snowpack retained intermountain characteristics-Ty Falk

11:15-11:35 Managing larger starting zones with a phat snowpack- A historic look at how terrain and starting zones change their dimensions as the snow gets deep and the challenges that presents to resort forecasters and backcountry users- Chris Bremmer- Snowbird

11:40-12:00 Teton Pass Valentines Slide Cycle- Brian Gorsage

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-17:00 Afternoon session

13:00-13:05 Welcome to the Afternoon Session-

(Recreate like a professional)

13:05-13:25 Do backcountry travelers really need checklists?- This talk addresses the complex nature of decision-making, a variety of factors to track, and thoughts on how to build systems for beginners and experienced travelers alike- Sarah Carpenter AAI

13:30-13:50 Looking at snow patterns like a pro- Understanding spatial variability- Dr. Ben Reuter, IFMGA Mountain Guide, Research Scientist at Montana State University

13:55-14:15 Thinking about the snow like a pro- Instability and stabilization after storms- Dr. Karl Birkeland, Director, Forest Service National Avalanche Center

14:20-14:40 Being Human: Going Deeper, Finding the Goods and Building Our Own Mountain Ethic- Using the “human factor” to keep us alive in avalanche terrain. Nancy Bockino- Teton County Search and Rescue, Exum Mountain Guides, AIARE Trainer, AAA Pro Trainer, and Winter Ops Manager for Jackson Hole Outdoor Leadership Institute

14:45-15:05 “Where’s Your Partner?”- A look at current trends and an alarming number of “solo” avalanche deaths in recent years- Evelyn Lees

15:05-15:20 Break

Afternoon session continued-

(Decision making… for the past, present and future)

15:25-15:45 Fast Times and Big Lines- The changing face of the Lasals- Eric Trenbeth

15:50-16:10 The Dogma of the Forecast- Why we can get surprised when the forecast matches reality- Jimmy Tart

16:15-16:35 The White Heat Project- The aim of the White Heat project is to generate new knowledge on mechanisms behind risk-taking behavior in avalanche terrain- Jordy Hendrix.

16:40-17:00 Advice to my younger self- A personal reflection on the role mentors played over my 48 years as an avalanche professional- Liam Fitzgerald

17:00-18:00 Social

current conditions

Ted was in Whitney Basin on Friday checking on one of our remote snow sites and found connected snow on shady, north facing slopes in the Superbowl. Looks like he was able to punch out a tight stich as well :)

While Toby sent these overview pics of Moffit Basin, clearly illustrating the same theme.

A closer look reveals a shallow and slightly layered snowpack.

Of course we're stoked seeing early season snow, but in the same breath.... I'm sorta hoping it melts away. It's not because I wanna be in the office plugging away at computer projects, it's because early season snow always becomes weak and faceted, and can produce avalanches months later that break at the ground.

general announcements

I'll be issuing regularly scheduled advisories once the snow starts flying in earnest. In the meantime, if you're getting out and about, please let me know what you're seeing especially if you see or trigger and avalanche. I can be reached at craig@utahavalanchecenter.org or 801-231-2170

It's also a good time to set up one of our very popular avalanche awareness classes. Reach out to me and I'll make it happen.