Observation: Porter Fork

Observation Date
Observer Name
John Pikus
Salt Lake » Mill Creek Canyon » Porter Fork
Location Name or Route
Porter Fork
Wind Direction
Wind Speed
Snow Characteristics
Snow Surface Conditions
Faceted Loose
Travel today was in the Main Porter Fork Drainage from elevations of 6000 to 9300 feet on north and northeast facing slopes. Snow depths ranged from a couple inches at the trailhead to 3-4 feet above 9,000 feet. Coverage is incredible for this time of year with most obstacles covered and fantastic ski conditions on shady aspects. Surface hoar was abundant but on this tour mainly found in drainage bottoms at lower elevations. In the typical avalanche start zones the bigger problem seems to be near surface faceting. The forested and lightly treed areas up high in the drainage are faceting fast, with the top 3 inches turning into weak sugary snow. While breaking trail skinning was starting to become a little difficult due to the sandbox effect (where the snow is slippery to skin up due to the lack of cohesion.) While this isn't a problem now (and provides excellent skiing conditions) I would expect these areas to be suspect once it snows significantly again. Additionally, areas up on the porter fork headwall have a great deal of spatial variability. In some rocky areas the snowpack was quite thin and more faceted while areas holding more snow had a couple inches of facets atop a solid dense base snowpack.
For now the only avalanche concern in areas travelled would be loose sluffing in the surface snow in very steep shady areas. I'd expect this problem to slightly worsen as the snow continues to facet, just be aware of your runouts where getting caught could be hazardous. Other than that, with the surface snow likely to continue weakening over the next week I think these zones will likely produce avalanches once it snows again.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating