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/


To receive automated e-mails of this advisory click HERE.


Avalanche advisory

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Good morning, this Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Saturday, January 15, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Bruce Tremper is giving a free avalanche awareness talk at Treasure Mountain Middle School in Park City at 7 pm tonight.


American Fork Canyon will open around noon today, 1/15/05.


Current Conditions:

High clouds have moved in over northern Utah last night, and temperatures are currently in the upper teens to low 20’s.  This is about 4 to 8 degrees warmer than yesterday morning.  Winds are from the northwest, in the 20 to 30 mph range across the higher peaks.  


Avalanche Conditions:

A major hard slab avalanche cycle continues in the mountains of northern Utah, with three human triggered slides and numerous explosive triggered slides being reported from the backcountry yesterday.  The worst was in Dutch Draw, where the search will resume this morning for an unknown number of missing people.  This slope was tracked, proving that previous tracks are not an indication of stability.  In addition, a 6’ deep, 500’ wide hard slab was triggered by a cornice drop on the southeast face of Tuscarora, huge slides were released in American Fork and the Days, Silver and Cardiff drainages by explosives, and a deep natural was reported from the Uintas.


I have updated the 364-1591 line with yesterday’s avalanche activity, and I will update it through out the day with any information I receive on the Dutch Draw accident.


These monster, killer hard slabs are breaking very deep on weak faceted snow that formed during the November dry spell.  These deeply buried weak layers are being extraordinarily slow to stabilize, creating an unusual frightening delayed action avalanche cycle.  From the continuous activity over the past few days, the weak layers clearly HAVE NOT adjusted to the heavy load of snow from the past 2 weeks.  In addition, some recent slides are breaking within the newer snow only, about 1 to 3’ deep.  Wet sluffing may occur today on a variety of aspects, especially at the low and mid elevations.  Travel on and below steep slopes in the backcountry must be avoided this weekend.  If the steeps are what you are looking for, go to a resort.


Backcountry travel is not recommended for people without excellent route finding, travel and avalanche skills.  Those with these skills will find excellent, safe turning and riding on low angle slopes with no steep slopes above.  If you head out, take note that these recent slides are running historically far distances, taking out 100 year old trees, and overrunning what we normally think as safe spots.


Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden and Provo mountains):

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on and below all steep slopes, especially those facing north through southeast and slopes that have been drifted with wind blown snow over the past few days.  Considerable means human triggered avalanches are probable and natural avalanches possible, and most of the recently triggered slides are UNSURVIVABLY LARGE and DANGEROUS.


Mountain Weather:

A couple of weak disturbances will move across northern Utah during the weekend, producing mostly clouds with occasional light snow.  Today will be partly cloudy with mid and high level clouds.  Temperatures will be warmer, with highs in the low 30’s at 8,000’ and the mid 20’s at 10,000’.  The westerly winds should decrease during the day, into the 15 to 20 mph range.   Mostly cloudy skies tonight, with a chance of light snow late.  10,000’ temperatures will be in the mid twenties, and wind speeds will be in the 15 to 25 mph range from the northwest.


Yesterday Powderbird Guides flew in American Fork.  Today, if possible, they will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly Gulch and American Fork.




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 Utah Governor, Jon Huntsman and also 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.



If you are getting into the backcountry and see anything we should know about, give us a call at 524-5304, or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected]

We value your information very much.


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.


Drew Hardesty will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning.


Thanks for calling



For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: