Wasatch Cache National Forest
In partnership with: Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation, The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security and Salt Lake County.



Monday, December 05, 2005  7:30am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, December 05, 2005, and it’s about 7:30 am.

Up coming avalanche awareness talks by the UAC staff include:
Dec 6    7 pm       Full Throttle Power Sports  240 N Frontage Rd, Centerville
Dec 6    7 pm       Black Diamond Retail  2092 E 3900 S, SLC
Dec 7    7 pm       Lady of the Snows, Alta
Dec 13  7 pm        REI, 3285 E, 3300 S, SLC
Dec 14  6:60 pm  Mnt High Motorsports, 8262 S Redwood Rd, West Jordan
Dec 14  7 pm        South Valley Unitarian, 6876 S Highland Dr. 

Wasatch Touring will sponsor the 1st annual Avalanche Roundtable discussion tonight at 7:30 pm in Memory Grove at the Memorial House.  Three avalanche survivors will tell their stories, including mountaineer Jeff Lowe, and locals Rick Hoffman and Steve Walcher.  It is free and open to the public.

Current Conditions:   
After yesterday’s raging conditions, it seems eerily clear, calm, and quiet.  Storm totals are 2-3’ across the range, but yesterday’s strong winds whipped Saturday’s dreamy turning conditions in the open bowls into an unpredictable inverted mess.  Averaging 40-50mph and gusting into the 70’s, the northwesterly winds have calmed to a more reasonable 20-30mph along the more exposed ridges.   Temperatures are in the low single digits and below zero along the high peaks and where cold air has pooled in the high basins and alpine drainages. Riding conditions will be best on a wide platform and in the mid-elevation trees.

Avalanche Conditions:
The strong winds and blizzard conditions made for stiff slabs and unusual loading patterns, resulting in spotty avalanches at the ski areas and along the Cottonwood crest (explosive work to protect the highways).  In the backcountry, two remotely triggered slides were the big ticket items along with a large natural avalanche off Elk Point in the Provo mountains.  Along the 10,420’ ridgeline in upper Big Cottonwood Canyon, a person digging a snow pit collapsed the slope, triggering a 3-4’ deep and 100’ wide avalanche over 100 yards away.  I’m not quite sure how you’d rate the rutschblock score on that one.  There was a close call over on Pink Pine ridge in lower White Pine of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  A skier poised to head down the slope was caught when his partner, moving along the ridge to better spot him, remotely triggered the slope to the ground 4-6’ deep and 80’ wide.  (Photo, Photo)  The skier clung to a tree allowing the snow to wash past him.  Both of these slides failed on the weak pre-Thanksgiving faceted snow and were on northerly slopes between 9500-10,200’.  In the Provo Mountains, the northeast chute of Elk Point, the same path that killed the three Provo boys two years ago pulled out naturally Saturday night leaving an impressive debris field above Aspen Grove.  Others were able to find new wind pockets pulling out with cornice drops and inconsistent collapsing of the buried faceted snow.  On another note, Brett went out to investigate Saturday’s accident in No Name bowl and his excellent report can be found here.

Prudently, most backcountry travelers yesterday headed to their favorite protected tree shots, but I wonder if, with today’s better visibility and weather whether folks will start to jump into the bigger more exposed lines today.  It’ll be tricky.  Hard wind slabs over a persistent weak layer are often the backcountry rider’s nemesis.  They can be stubborn on slope cuts and cornice drops, may allow the person to get a few turns out onto the slab, or may allow for a few runs before pulling out on the third lap.  Steep rollovers and shallow rocky areas often fit the bill as trigger points, but they’re tricky animals any way you cut it.  Avalanches may still be triggered from a distance and any slide triggered on mid and upper elevation northwest through north through east slopes may step down into old snow with similar dimensions as yesterday’s slides.  There is still pleasant and safe riding in the mid-elevation trees on slopes less than 35 degrees that are not attached to steeper slopes above.

Bottom Line:
The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE with human triggered avalanches probable on steep drifted slopes, with the real potential for them to step down into older faceted snow.  While naturals are not expected, some artificially triggered releases will likely be large and dangerous.    

Mountain Weather: 
We’ll have partly to mostly cloudy skies as a system brushes by to the northeast.  8000’ highs will be in the high teens with 10,000’ temps around 10 degrees.  The northwest winds will blow 15-20mph over the high ridges.  An unsettled northwest flow drives the weather for the first part of the week with a weak storm to move through later Tuesday. Seasonal Weather History Charts.  (NOTE:  USE INTERNET EXPLORER FOR BEST VIEWING)

Please report any backcountry snow and avalanche conditions you observe.  We appreciate all information.  You can 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.

To have this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day, click HERE.  (You must re-sign up this season even if you were on the list last season.)

The annual report for 2004-05 is now on the web. (Click HERE, 8mb)

Brett will update this advisory Tuesday morning.  Thanks for calling.