Observation: Mineral Fork

Observation Date
Observer Name
Champion, Fuys, Hankison, Galipo
Salt Lake » Big Cottonwood Canyon » Mineral Fork
Location Name or Route
Lower East Facing
Light Snowfall
Wind Direction
Wind Speed
Weather Comments
The day was generally warm and overcast with occasional light precipitation. Winds remained mostly light, occasionally picking up to moderate gusts along the ridgeline. There was not much apparent sign of transport, even along the ridgelines.
Snow Characteristics
Snow Surface Conditions
Faceted Loose
Melt-Freeze Crust
Snow Characteristics Comments
Various snow surfaces were observed, at lower elevations where the snow surface exhibited full saturation until approximately 7800'. Beyond 8000', southerly aspects displayed saturation in the upper 2-4 inches, while northerly aspects featured a damp surface transitioning to cold snow directly below. It wasn't until around 8500' that the northerly aspects consistently held cold snow without any saturation.
Red Flags
Red Flags
Recent Avalanches
Poor Snowpack Structure
Avalanche Problem #1
Persistent Weak Layer
Today, our main focuses were on surface conditions, the persistent weak layer within the mid-elevation bands, and wind-drifted snow. Our travel route primarily covered lower and mid-elevation terrain. As we began the tour, we encountered a generally saturated and damp snowpack. Below 8000', almost all aspects we traversed were well saturated, resulting in heavy glopping on the skins when hitting or breaking through to any cold snow. Despite our travels, we didn't come across much of a crust, likely due to the warm temperatures at the low and mid-elevations. I anticipate a stout crust on upper elevation solars and, with cooler temperatures, expect most elevations to develop a firm crust. This crust could serve as a solid bed surface for new snowfall, potentially leading to shallow, fast-running sluffs and soft slabs as we move into the weekend.
Digging on a northwest aspect at 8650', we investigated the persistent weak layer near the group. Our findings revealed a stout slab primarily composed of 1F rounds and decomposing stellars atop 50cm of rounding facets and damp facets. During Extended Column Tests (ECTs), we consistently observed propagation between 25-30 down within the facets, 30 cm above the ground, where the facets transitioned from dry to damp. The bottom 30cm of the facets were damp. While these higher ECT numbers suggest a decreasing likelihood of triggering an avalanche on this layer, the consequence remains high due to the stout, large-block breaking slab. These are dangerous, hard slab avalanches, and we hope to see the numbers continue to increase and move towards periods of ECTX.
Despite more consistent wind along the ridgelines, we did not observe any obvious signs of wind-drifted snow today.
Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating