Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Tuesday,  MARCH 5, 2002  7:30 AM



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Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Tuesday, March 5, 2002, and it’s 7:30 a.m.


Don’t miss the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the U of U’s Kingsbury Hall on March 12 and 13, at 7pm.  Tickets are available at the Kingsbury Hall ticket office, Art-tix, the University of Utah’s Outdoor Program (581-8516), and REI (486-2100).  Don’t miss this great benefit for the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center!


Current Conditions:

Under a mild westerly flow, overnight lows were warmer than they’ve been for over a week, dropping into just the high teens and low twenties.  Ridgetop winds have been averaging in the 15-20mph range out of the west, where they’ll remain today.  Backcountry snow surface conditions are a mix of sun and wind crusts, with good riding and turning conditions in the  soft recrystallized powder on the shady slopes.


Avalanche Conditions:

Another three human triggered avalanches occurred yesterday, two by the same party on the northeast face of Dromedary Peak and in the ‘bowl’ east of the peak in upper Mill B South.  The first appeared to be shallow and about 20’ wide, with the second reported as a hard slab up to 2’ deep and 100’ wide.   These slides were north and northeast facing near 11,000’.    Further up the canyon, a skier triggered and was caught in a 2 ˝’ deep, 30’ wide pocket on the upper Silver Fork headwall, a steep north facing shot at a little over 10,000’.  After riding the avalanche for about a hundred feet, he was able to grab a tree, allowing the moving snow to blow past him.  These slides I suspect are similar to the ones triggered in Mineral Fork on Saturday, failing on buried faceted snow.


These continue to confirm the pockety nature and spatial extent of the current avalanche problem.  The instabilities are far from widespread, but it’s difficult to define a legitimate pattern.  Not only are separate slopes quite individual, areas along the same slope are as well – on a traverse, you can go from an area of relative strength to a weak spot over a matter of feet.   While it does look like most of the recent activity has been on steep, upper elevation north facing slopes along the upper Cottonwood Ridgeline, I feel certain that other booby-traps exist with similar terrain characteristics elsewhere along the range. The trick will be to gauge each area individually, keep your slope angles down, and follow safe travel protocol.  


Bottom Line: 

The danger of human triggered avalanches is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.  Human triggered avalanches are possible.  It will still be possible for any avalanche to step down into deeper, faceted snow.  Wet point release activity on the sunny aspects will be likely today as the temperatures reach their daytime highs.


(Provo Area Mountains and Western Uinta Mountains)

These areas have had a thin snowpack most of the winter, and the sugary weak snow is more common than in the Cottonwood Canyons.  The danger of human triggered avalanches is more widespread in the Provo and Western Uinta Mountains, especially where wind drifted. 


(Ogden Area Mountains)

Same as above.


Mountain Weather:

Another fine day in the Wasatch with partly cloudy skies, 8000’ highs in the mid-thirties, and moderate westerly winds along the ridgetops.  10,000’ highs will be in the low twenties.  The winds will increase to strong tonight and tomorrow, with a weak brushby tonight, a decent system on Wednesday night, with a good storm forecast for Thursday night.


General Information:

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be flying in the Silver, Day’s, Cardiff, and Mineral Fork drainages of Big Cottonwood Canyon, with another ship in the Porter Fork and Alexander Basin drainages of Mill Creek.  For more information call 521-6040 ext. 5280.


To report backcountry snow and avalanche conditions, especially if you observe or trigger an avalanche, you can leave a message at (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140.  Or you can e-mail an observation to [email protected] .org, or you can fax an observation to 801-524-6301.


For more detailed mountain weather and avalanche information, your can call 801-364-1591, which we’ll try to have updated by around noon each day.


The information in this advisory is from the U.S. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content.  This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur. 


I will update this advisory by 7:30 tomorrow morning.

Thanks for calling!



For more detailed weather information go to our Mountain Weather Advisory

National Weather Service - Salt Lake City - Snow.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: