Avalanche: Cardiac Ridge

Observer Name
Observation Date
Saturday, April 13, 2024
Avalanche Date
Saturday, April 13, 2024
Salt Lake » Big Cottonwood Canyon » Cardiff Fork » Cardiac Ridge
Location Name or Route
Thunderstruck (Kinda)
Short and dirty:
Set off a decent size wetslide on the line just south of Thunderstruck (east facing) at around 11am. Slide ripped out below my partner so he wasn't caught but rode out with it and was able to duck left away from the slide. Big enough to send you on a nasty ride especially in exposed terrain.
Longer story:
Hit the Alta parking lot by 8 am with the initial plan to ski Holy Moly while it was terrible and then get a corn lap or two in before things got too warm. Skinned up the more solid than expected surface of Toledo Bowl and rode the absolutely rock solid snow in Holy Moly.
At this point we skinned back up to Cardiff Peak to have a look around and what to our wondering eyes did we see but Cardiac Ridge. Immediately we turned it down as it was 10am and sun was out, but after poking ski poles around on some north facing/east facing slopes things still felt more solid than we expected and the wind chill gave us a false sense of temperature. At this point we still still didn't think we would actually ski Cardiac but figured we would walk that direction and either ski Cardiac Bowl or even the more gentle and slightly more northerly aspect off the north side of Cardiac if things were too warm.....and we kept walking and kept walking till we were at the top of what we thought was Thurnderstruck but was not. At the very top things felt wet but not excessively bottomless and after watching my buddy ski across the face it looked pretty good. At this point we saw only debris from the previous day but no active roller balls. But as soon as he got into the choke and just out of my sight the slide released just below his board. He was moving quickly so essentially caught up with it but was then able to sneak out skiers left below the cliff band and radio up he was alright.
After discussing it we determined enough of the slope had ripped and there was no pressing hangfire left over so I skied the slidepath after him. To add insult to injury and make us feel even stupider still, I lost a ski in the gully and had to one ski most of the shot anyway.
Lessons learned:
Not really sure how to address this one. If you had told me I would ski Cardiac Ridge at 11am the night before I would have laughed at you. "Not a chance". And yet here we are. Many of these sound obvious but I obviously need to reiterate them to myself.
1) Objective skiing is fun but you really really gotta double check your logic when you know you deep down you want that check mark.
2) Wind chill doesn't necessarily translate to actual temp/sun exposure. We were actually surprised how chilled we were that morning and on the ridge and the winds kept some slopes feeling more solid than we expected. In fact it was HOT and SUNNY! As I write this the base of Alta is 59 degrees!
3) I never actually looked at the temps the night before. Figured I would have a good sense when climbing up and things seemed colder than they actually were (never even truly froze).
Spring is easy, don't get carried away.