Wasatch Cache National Forest

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Avalanche advisory

Monday, January 17, 2005


Good morning, this Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, January 17, 2005, and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

As of 5am, skies are cloudy with a few flakes falling in the hills.  Overnight temperatures were in the mid-to-upper twenties, so the dampened snow surfaces on all aspects to about 9500’ from yesterday should have frozen nicely.  Winds are light out of the west-northwest.  It’ll probably be a good idea to have another cup of coffee to let the snow surfaces thaw by mid/late morning.


Avalanche Conditions:

Another skier-triggered avalanche was reported in the backcountry.  This one was off the north side of Murdock Peak in the Canyons backcountry, with a starting zone elevation of about 9500’ or so.  Through binoculars, it was estimated to be 4-6’ deep, 800’ wide and running 700’ vertical.  Here’s another in the long string that fits the pattern of mid to upper elevation shady slopes that received the heavy snow and winds, all sitting on the reactivated weak snow from November.  The bad news is that things aren’t going to rapidly heal soon, and it’s possible that the warming trend this week may heighten the deep slab instability.


Yesterday’s cloud cover accentuated the warm temps, dampening all the snow surfaces up to about 9500’, resulting in some surface sluffing and wet push-alanches on the steepest slopes.  Once the skies clear, I’d expect this type of activity to continue, and folks should exercise caution on the steep mid and low elevation slopes with a terrain trap below. 


As a last note, despite that fact that most avalanche professionals are still a bit gun-shy with the steep open lines, you can still find good safe riding on and below slopes less steep than 30 degrees.  Regardless, as the tragedy in Dutch Draw illustrates, continue to put only one person on a slope at a time, get way out of the way at the bottom, make a plan, and carry rescue gear.


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

The avalanche danger is a SCARY MODERATE on and below all northwest through the easterly facing slopes approaching 35 degrees and steeper.  Human triggered avalanches will continue to be possible.  If you’re caught in one of these, it’s all over.  Wet sluffs may be expected at the mid-to-low elevations by the afternoon.


Mountain Weather:

We should have clearing skies by midday as a ridge builds in from the west.  Winds will be light from the northwest.  The warming trend will continue today and through the week, with today’s 8000’ highs set for near 40 and 10,000’ temps rising to the mid-twenties. 


Yesterday Powderbird Guides flew in AF and will head back there today.




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.


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


Thanks for calling



For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: