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

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Sunday, January 09, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.




Current Conditions:

Overnight the central Wasatch picked up another 6-8” of mostly graupel with densities around 20%.  The cold front stalled to the north so since just before midnight, the Logan mountains and valleys raked in up to 2’ of new snow.    The freight train continues to roar through the mountains, with southwesterly winds still averaging 30-40 mph with gusts to 50.  Temperatures continue to slowly warm and are at 24 hour highs in the low twenties at 10,000’.  Most who ventured out yesterday were punished by the winds only to be rewarded with difficult trail-breaking and upside-down dense, cakey riding conditions.  Those who found good riding conditions in mid-elevation sheltered areas made me promise not to mention how good the conditions were, so I won’t. 


Avalanche Conditions:

Unfortunately, there were two more fatalities yesterday in separate incidents on the Wasatch Plateau/Manti Skyline area.  Preliminary information can be found here.  Check back on the same link for a full investigation by the Manti/La Sal avalanche office. 


In the central Wasatch, the ski areas reported stiff, stubborn wind slabs on a variety of aspects and elevations with most 1-3’ in depth.  Not surprisingly, backcountry reports were few and far between, but we were able to trigger a large slide along the Hidden Canyon/10,420’ ridgeline in upper BCC that was up to 1000’ wide, stepping down 5½’ deep to the November facets.  It was a heavily loaded north-facing slope at 9600’.  You should be able to find some good firewood from the downed trees up there in the summer.  A couple other 1’ x 50’ naturals were observed along the southern most end of the Park City ridgeline. 


Continued snow and wind will keep the backcountry dangerous on and below steep slopes at the mid and upper elevations.  The new hard slabs may not rip out until you’re half way down the slope or until the 4th person crosses the slope.  As evidenced from yesterday, the continued onslaught of wind and snow will allow any avalanche to potentially step down into the old dormant weak layers from November and December. 


Bottom Line:

The current avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today on, or beneath, any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  Human triggered slides will be probable and will have the potential to be large and extremely dangerous. 


Mountain Weather:

Snowfall should continue throughout the day with 6-8” of snow expected.  Winds should continue to nuke from the southwest along the ridgelines to the tune of 30-40 mph.  8000’ highs will be near 30 with 10,000’ temps in the low twenties. 


If you’re getting out and see anything we should know about, remember we can’t be everywhere at once.  We depend on people just like you.  Please leave a message on our answer machine at:  524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or fax to 801-524-6301, or email to [email protected]


There are a few spots left in the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center’s 3-day January 15-17 avalanche class.  Registration is at the Black Diamond retail store.


Snowbird is hosting its 2nd annual Backcountry Avalanche Awareness Week January 31 – February 7th as a benefit for the Utah Avalanche Center.  On Friday, February 4th, there will be a fundraising dinner at Snowbird with presentations by Dave Breashears and Apa Sherpa and Lhapka Rita.  On February 5th and 6th, there will be a variety of classes offered at Snowbird.  For more information, go to www.backcountryawareness.com.


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


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 on Monday morning.


Thanks for calling




For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: