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, January 16, 2006  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, January 16, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.


I’ll be teaching a Basic Avalanche Awareness class at Black Diamond Tuesday night at 7pm.  For more information, call BD at 278-0233.

Current Conditions:
Good things come to those who wait.  By early afternoon, snowfall rates reached, at times, 2-3”/hr and up and down tracks disappeared almost instantly.  Early Saturday’s 3-5” of 10% became a distant memory and the cold smoke really started to pile up.   Storm totals across the range are about 8-12” in the Ogden, Logan, Park City, and Uinta mountains, 12-15” in Big Cottonwood, 18-20” in upper Little Cottonwood, and roughly 6” in Provo.  Mid-canyons and lower elevations chimed in with anywhere from 6-10” as well.  With the passing of the cold front, temperatures dipped into the single digits and well, snow densities averaged 4-7%, falling ‘right-side-up’.  The northwest winds picked up yesterday afternoon to blow some of the fluff around, but have generally been on good behavior overnight.  Skies are partly cloudy, and conditions in the backcountry today will be epic.

Avalanche Conditions:
Backcountry travelers and avalanche workers found plenty of sluffing in the new low density snow along with pockets of shallow soft wind drifts.  The foot deep wind drifts were found just off the ridgelines at the mid and upper elevations and were quite manageable.  The usual combat techniques of slope cutting and cornice dropping paid out dividends, and I’d recommend the same tactics for those sniffing out steep terrain today.  Sluff management techniques include moving laterally out of the fall line and moving from spine to spine while the loose snow barrels through.  As the winds died down and the snow has had time to settle, much of the instability will have had time to heal.  At the same time, the winds are expected to increase out of the north/northwest this morning for a couple hours.  You’ll need to watch for additional drifting and reloading of steep starting zones on the south through east sides of the compass. 

Continue to move from safety zone to safety zone, spot one another, and have folks move out of runout zones at the bottom.  Carry and know how to use your beacon, shovel, and probe.  Nibble around the smaller test slopes before jumping into the more committing lines………  Remember the old line about most avalanches occurring during the storm, and most accidents occurring on the first bluebird day after the storm?

Bottom Line:

Today the avalanche danger of loose snow and soft slab avalanches on steep wind drifted slopes is MODERATE.  Natural avalanches are not expected, yet localized human triggered avalanches may still be possible.  Pay attention when the winds pick up mid-morning and watch for increased loading and sensitivity on steep wind drifted slopes.   


Mountain Weather:

We may still see a few instability showers this morning, but we’ll have partly cloudy skies for much of the day.  The northerly winds will pick up to 25-30 mph over the high ridges for a few hours this morning before calming to 10-15 by a little this afternoon.  8000’ highs will reach the upper teens while 10,000’ temperatures remain crisp in the low single digits.  A weak system moves through tomorrow with another decent shot of snow by mid-week.




We need to prevent unnecessary call outs of Wasatch Backcountry Rescue to search avalanches that no one was caught in.   If you trigger a slide within site of ski areas, the highway, etc, please immediately report it to a local authority by phone or in person.  This will prevent unneeded searches and putting rescuers in danger.


3rd Annual Backcountry Awareness Week Monday Jan 30-Sunday February 5
Fundraising Dinner February 3rd at 6pm with speakers Conrad Anker and Apa Sherpa.  For more info, go to www.backcountryawareness.com or call Snowbird at 933-2147.


Check out our new graphical advisory format.  You can update your bookmarks to this link:

Click HERE for a text only version of the avalanche advisory.

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.)

UDOT also has a highway avalanche control work hotline for Little Cottonwood road, which is updated as needed. 801-975-4838.

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides were grounded yesterday, but today they’ll have one ship in American Fork and White Pine, with another ship in either Cascade or the Sessions. For more info, call 742-2800.

Please report any backcountry snow and avalanche conditions.  Call (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, email [email protected] or fax 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 Tuesday morning.  Thanks for calling.