Wasatch Cache National Forest

In partnership with: The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center, Utah Department of Public Safety Division of Comprehensive Emergency Management, Salt Lake County, and Utah State Parks


The Utah Avalanche Center Home page is: http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/


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Avalanche advisory

Monday, January 03, 2005


Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, January 03, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

The mountains picked up another inch or two in the last 24 hours and it’s still lightly snowing.  The winds calmed down overnight and, except for the Ogden area mountains, are less than 15mph from the south.  Temperatures are in the mid-teens at 10,000’ and low twenties at 8000’.   Riding conditions are excellent.


Avalanche Conditions:

There were three more human triggered slides in the central Wasatch yesterday, all running on weak faceted snow.  Limelight bowl, an east-northeast facing bowl at 8700’ on the Park City ridgeline, was triggered at a distance, pulling out 3-5’ deep and 300’ wide.  In mid-Alexander Basin in Mill Creek, a ski party triggered a 4-12” slab 80’ wide that ran 1000’ down into the flats.  This slide, a repeater from the December cycle, broke 20’ above the skier, running on the weak faceted grains like the previous one did.  And last but not least, a skier triggered a 1-2’ deep slide off the backside of Millicent in the Brighton backcountry and washed over some cliffs.  Fortunately, he was not seriously injured.  Photos when Bruce went up to look at the Meadow Chutes slides are here.


If yesterday’s polemic revolved around the complexity of the danger, today’s will have to do with the extent and trickiness of the danger involved.  Two layers of weak faceted grains, one from November and the other from mid-December should continue to be active in localized terrain.  I think these problems may be most pronounced in areas that received the most wind and snow from this last storm that coincidentally had some of the weaker snow across the range.  Areas where this may be most pronounced will be along the Park City ridgeline, the Provo and Uinta mountains, areas that slid during the previous cycle, and in areas with a thinner snowpack.  These types of avalanches will continue to be tricky: it shouldn’t be a surprise to trigger them from a distance, have them take out old tracks, or pull out once you’re half way down the slope.  These instabilities will take time to heal so if you’re in this type of terrain, stick to slopes in the low 30 degree range with nothing steeper above and follow the strictest travel protocol, such as having only one person on the slope at a time.  


Bottom Line:

Today, the avalanche danger is a scary MODERATE on northwest through easterly facing slopes approaching 35 degrees and steeper, especially with recent drifts of wind blown snow, which includes the mid-elevations.


Mountain Weather:

We’ll have mostly cloudy skies with 1-3” expected during the day.  Winds will be light from the southwest, increasing by late afternoon.  8000’ highs will be in the near 30 with 10,000’ temps near twenty.  The storms for mid-week are looking more favorable for the north, with decent snow falling from tomorrow through early Thursday with a Low moving right overhead.  Optimistic projections are 2’ or more by Thursday, with another on tap for the weekend.


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday because of weather and if possible, will be in American Fork, Lamb’s and Snake Creek.


Registration for the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center’s 3-day January avalanche class is now being taken at the Black Diamond retail store.


Free Beacon Rescue Training Centers are now open at Snowbird and the Canyons.  For more information go to wasatchbackcountryrescue.org.


We do an early morning update around 6am each day on the 364-1591 line.


To report backcountry snow and avalanche conditions, especially if you observe or trigger an avalanche, call (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or email to [email protected] or fax to 801-524-6301.  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.


Brett Kobernik will update this advisory by 7:30 on Tuesday morning.


Thanks for calling




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: