Observation: Copleys Canyon

Observation Date
Observer Name


Location Name or Route
Pahvants - Upper Copleys Canyon
Wind Speed
Weather Comments
Warm day, some canyon winds down low in the am.
Snow Characteristics
New Snow Depth
New Snow Density
Snow Surface Conditions
Snow Characteristics Comments

Powder, I was surprised how well the Pahvants did.  1.5" in town, 3-4" at the Chalk Creek Trailhead and at least 8" up high. I thought it would be an easy day since I broke the trail on Monday.....New snow covered all tracks above 7,500'.

Red Flags
Red Flags
Poor Snowpack Structure
Red Flags Comments
The primary red flags I saw were limited only to the ridgtop above the north facing section of upper Copleys Canyon. I had 2 minor collapses and found some surface hoar sitting on a crust in 4 attempted ECTs. 3 ECTPV and 1 ECTP 8, see photos below.
Avalanche Problem #1
Storm Slab
Decreasing Danger
Problem #1 Comments

My main concern was the storm snow on steep aspects.

Avalanche Problem #2
Persistent Slab
Problem #2 Comments

My secondary concern was some faceted snow near the ground.  However much of this snow is healing.  In this area below 9,000' the warm temps might have helped heal the snow pack, some of the facets look they may have undergone a melt-freeze cycle and some chaining is apparent.  Off of the ridge top in Copleys there is not enough of a slab to be much of a concern.  There is also a supportable crust above the facets

Snow Profile
Slope Angle

HS aprox. 28".  Glove is sitting on crust.  Storm snow from this week above glove.  Facets at base look like they may have undergone some melt/freeze (poor photo 1 below).  ECTN, photo 2 below, column just collapsed.  Photo 3 below is terran, pit is in upper meadow above large tree.

AS I mentioned above, I found 1 limited area with potential red flags.  Photos below:

1. Results of ECTP 8, Q1/2.  Gloves on Failure plane.

2.  Poor photo of potential surface hoar.

3. Area of tests near ridge.

4.  Pit profile, HS approx. 28"

This area was near the ridge and had undergone some wind loading, the surface hoar is hard to explain in this area considering I did not see it anywhere else.

Photos Below:

1.  Upper Dry Creek and Mine Camp Peak in the background right  White Pine Peak on left side of background.

2.  Busy day on my approach!  The horse guy actually broke about a mile of my trail, much appreciated.  They were out looking for kitty cats....

Overall the danger is hard to decide.  Based on what I saw on the ridge, there are definitely areas of considerable.  However most of the terran I traveled through today falls into the moderate range.  I would say Moderate with the exception of areas contain wind loaded snow and/or buried surface hoar.

If anyone wants to get in touch with me about snow/avalanche questions in SW Utah, I can be reached at swutbcski@gmail.com. I would be happy to walk anyone through the observation process.  All observations are appreciated.

A tangent:

Like many skiers my age, the passing of Warren Miller is a sad one.  I went from being the kid in the Hunter Mountain pile-ups and rope-tow disasters to being Utah’s premier and perhaps most in-famous snow and avalanche observer, all the time remembering the inspiration I got from his movies as a kid.   Anyone from a beginner riding the magic carpet with a Gopro to the folks at TGR, and those of us who watch ski movies, owes him a debt of gratitude, he is the OG.  Instead of mourning I plan on celebrating, hopefully he is wherever dead skiers go skiing some deep powder with Dick Barrymore…….

Photos below:

1.  Wine, Women and Skis, perhaps the first book on ski bumming, my copy is signed, I got lucky at DI!

2.  For Warren, a true OG, RIP in peace (as in rip a few turns...)

Today's Observed Danger Rating
Tomorrows Estimated Danger Rating
Snow Profile Coordinates