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Observation: West Bowl

Observation Date
Observer Name
Adam Bellomy
Salt Lake » Big Cottonwood Canyon » Silver Fork » West Bowl
Location Name or Route
West Bowl
Red Flags
Red Flags
Wind Loading
Poor Snowpack Structure
Avalanche Problem #1
Wind Drifted Snow
Problem #1 Comments
Wind was transporting a significant amount of snow until around 11am
Headed out this morning for the first proper ski tour of the season. Tour plan was to check out the lower angle sections of upper Silver Fork. New snow seemed to be about 10-12" deep and was very dense and slabbed up from the strong winds. The winds out of the south and west were cranking for most of the morning and a significant amount of snow was being transported. Cornices along the Silver Fork headwall were quite sensitive and would break as you approached them. The winds seemed to be stronger at the bottom of the bowl, which was somewhat unusual. The skin track and ski tracks were getting mostly filled in between laps. Coverage was pretty good, but I definitely drilled a few rocks here and there. Winds finally started to die down around 12PM as we were exiting. The Emma's are still pretty thin and there were a lot of rocks sticking out of the snow. Probably needs another few feet of snow before you could ski them with real confidence.
Despite the strong winds and snow transport we did not observe any cracking or collapsing. I kicked a few small test slopes and tried to pry out some wind pockets and nothing would budge. However, it was very easy to tell that the new snow was much more dense than the snow it was sitting on top of.
Biggest hazard this morning seemed to be the other folks out touring in West Bowl. We had a party drop on top of us before all of the members of our party had even started skiing. Several other groups were dropping in on top of each other or skiing above other groups. My favorite moment was when a group of three decided to ski the center punch as a group. Seemed pretty cavalier for today's conditions, but it looked like they got some good GoPro footy.
...definitely going to be a busy year out there in the backcountry.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating