Avalanche: Huge Natural Avalanche, Wood Camp Hollow, 2-20-1986

Observer Name
Observation Date
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Avalanche Date
Thursday, February 20, 1986
Logan » Logan River » Huge Natural Avalanche, Wood Camp Hollow, 2-20-1986
Location Name or Route
Wood Camp Hollow, 2-20-1986
Avalanche Type
Wet Slab
Weak Layer
Depth Hoar
We recently found some historic photos of a huge avalanche in Wood Camp Hollow. The avalanche occurred on February 20, 1986....
Thanks to Kevin Kobe for letting us copy a few of his great slides...... And Mike Van Horn for the rough black and whites and documentation of the event....
The event was written up in "The Snowy Torrents," a classic chronicle of US Avalanche Accidents between 1980 and 1986, by Logan and Atkins. (86-13)
Logan Canyon Utah, 1 Very Large Avalanche
Weather Conditions: Strong winds and wet, heavy snows and frequent rains continued to blast the wasatch Mountains of northern Utah. Since February 11, Wasatch ski areas reported over 40 inches of snow and more than 5.0 inches of water equivalent. A thick blanket of heavy snows covered a weak snowpack along the steep mountains of Logan Canyon.
Avalanche Data: Sometime on February 20, a massive avalanche released from the steep eastern face of the ridge between Beirdneau Peak and Mt. Elmer. Over one million cubic yards of snow raced down the narrow drainage of Wood Camp Hollow--about 13 miles east of Logan--tearing out trees and boulders. The avalanche was classified as an SS-N-5: it released from about 8,600 feet and fell 3,100 vertical feet as it raced 2.5 miles down the drainage. At its widest spot in the starting zone, the slide was over 1 mile across. In the valley runout zone debris was piled over 60 feet deep.
Comments: Though this was not an avalanche accident it is certainly a noteworthy avalanche event. The avalanche debris in the summer of 1986 looked much like a glacier. The last of the debris did not melt away until the summer of 1987.
Large and long-running avalanches are not unfamiliar to the Beirdneau Peak area of Logan Canyon. In January 1971, several drainages to the southwest of Wood Camp Hollow, two large avalanches ran more than one mile, both damaged and destroyed several houses and structures. Though no structures were damaged in the February 20 event, these long-running avalanches should serve as a reminder to developers and builders. Peranent structures built in avalanche paths eventually get struck....
Wayne Wurtsbaugh: ([email protected])
I found some old prints and scanned them. These show the Feb. 1986 avalanche in Wood Camp up Logan Canyon. The photos were taken a couple of months later. The avalanche climbed up the north-facing wall and sheared of firs like they were matchsticks. The aspens have filled in now, but if you look now, you can see the shear line. Impressive! Ski safe! The 2nd photo is a panorama merge from the first and 3rd, and I think there was a bit of distortion when I did that.
Wayne W"