Forecaster note: Fortunately Honeycomb Canyon was closed at the time. This is a good heads up to be careful near ski area boundaries even if it's closed terrain because ski area workers could be below working. We all look over the other side of ridges and rarely do we trigger avalanches. Please be especially careful this season with such an unstable snowpack. The Solitude Ski Patrol will be working in this area on Saturday, December 30th.
On our way from Twin Lakes Pass to the Emma's Ridge and Sliver Fork, I went to look into Solitude's Honeycomb Canyon at the saddle about where the Alta snowcat typically turns around. This is probably something I've done many times just to check out the view.
Knowing there are large cornices along this ridgeline, I walked to a spot to the right of the saddle where I could see dirt and rocks and would not stand on the cornice. On my way back to the saddle, perhaps as I moved from the more rocky area to a marginally thicker snowpack, the cornice broke about 5 feet from me. The lip of the cornice was perhaps 8 feet from me. As is typically the case, this broke bit farther back than I expected. This cornice was quite large and caused a good sized avalanche below.
West/southwest winds have been blowing the last two days and prior to the cornice breaking you could see new growth on the cornice. Perhaps this made it more sensitive.
Immediately after the cornice broke, I called Solitude Dispatch to let them know nobody was caught. This avoided Solitude sending patrollers to look for anyone who may have been caught. Honeycomb Canyon was closed at the time so there were no skiers below.