Mike M/KP/C and UAC Staff
Saturday, February 10, 2024
Saturday, February 10, 2024
Salt Lake » Big Cottonwood Canyon » Mill Creek Canyon » Mill A » Butler Fork » Gobblers » Main Gobblers
Location Name or Route
Persistent Weak Layer
Snow Profile Comments
Forecaster Note: Multiple submissions, combined into one observation.
On Sunday, February 11, UAC staff visited the site of this avalanche, ascending from the toe of the debris in Porter Fork up to the Gobblers ridgeline. We were fortunate to have met members of the party in the first report below, who told us they were standing on a rocky section of the Gobblers ridgeline when they heard the avalanche, followed by seeing the powder cloud. Both parties who were on the the ridgeline (a party of 4 and a party of 6) never felt a whumph or collapse, so there is uncertainty of how this avalanche was triggered. It may have been remotely-triggered by someone along the ridge, but there is also a possibility it was a natural avalanche. There was a skin track put in by Party #1 in the morning along the lower-angled ridge to the skinner's right of the avalanche, and they reported no collapsing while ascending toward the Gobbler's ridgeline.
Given the debris ran 2,000' down into a well-used approach route, this avalanche could have easily involved multiple parties down low, and we are fortunate/lucky there was no one ascending at the time of the avalanche. We have had several avalanches involving the PWL over the past several weeks and have been lucky there have been no fatalities.
Mike M: (Party #1)
We set out in a group of 4 from Butler Fk in the morning intending to summit Gobblers and ski White Snake or one of the similar lines on the SW face. At around 10:15am we crested the false summit at 10k just about 100ft shy of the top of White Snake. We heard what sounded like a distant whumpf, or maybe we thought a bomb from Solitude or Brighton control. We then observed a large slide rip down the NW face of Gobblers and run all the way down the gully, kicking up a large powder cloud.
We immediately transitioned and skied back down the ridge to the lower angle shoulder at the west margin of the main Gobblers face. There we met a group of 6 that had just skinned up the Gobblers shoulder from Porter Fk and were transitioning to descend the same shoulder (I think) when the avalanche occurred. They were concerned that another team may have followed their skin track (which was up the gully and right in the path of the slide) so we teamed up and skied down the shoulder to the slide path and all searched the entire path. No signals were observed and we all skied out Porter Fk.
We didn't feel safe going up to the crown but I would estimate it at roughly 6ft deep and 500ft across. It is unclear what the trigger was (natural, or possible remote from the ridge). The slide ran on the ground and went about 2000ft into the gully below.
Photo 1: Looking up at the crown
Photo 2: Looking down, red circle where the toe of the slide was
Photo 3: Looking up from about 1500ft below the crown.
KP: (Party #2)
Group of 6 including me, broke trail and skinned up towards Main Gobblers from Butler Fork. We gained the ridge noticing a second group of 4 above us higher on the ridge At approximately 10:10am we noticed a cloud below us that quickly became apparent that was from an avalanche on the NW Gobbler face below us. From above we could see that it overtook our skin track. We communicated with the group of four from above us and it appears they may have remotely triggered the slide. Further down looking up, there were no tracks going into the top of the fracture. Our group of 6 and the other group of 4 searched the debris pile to see if anyone got caught or buried. We were unable to get any positive pings and determined it was clear. As a group, we feel this was a close call since we did set the skin track for a relatively short distance in a potential slide path later finding that part got wiped out. Overall this slide was huge. ~4' crown (need to verify) about 100 yards wide and ran a mile down to the lower gully where it stopped. This easily could have been a really bad day for anyone caught. In the upper bowl we were far to the west in the pines and our intended ski run was skier's left of the flank but this was scary enough to call it a day.
Blue dot shows toe of debris.
Forecaster Notes: On Sunday February 11, 2024 UAC went to the site of this avalanche. Read more HERE.
Going back through some old avalanche data March of 2007 there was a large avalanche on the west face of Gobblers that put much more debris into the gully than what Greg and I found. In 2007 it appeared that the avalanche was a wet slide that was much wider than the slide reported in February of 2024.
We received this photo of tracks on Main Gobblers from two weeks prior to the avalanche.