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.



Sunday, January 29, 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 Sunday, January 29, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.


          Current Conditions:

Storm totals after yesterday morning’s break are about 6-10” of 11-12% density snow.  The last few flakes are falling, but the storm is already out the back door.  The southwest winds played the starring role, blowing 35-45mph before shifting to the northwest overnight.  Currently the winds are averaging 20mph with the most exposed anemometers continuing to record hourly averages in the 30-45mph range.  They should back off before midday.  Temperatures are in the mid-teens and we’ll have diminishing cloud cover over the course of the day.  Riding conditions have been excellent and may be a bit trickier with the wind effect and upside down layer cake. 


Avalanche Conditions:

Fast running sluffs and pockety 12” deep soft slabs along the ridgelines comprised the bulk of the activity and observations from Saturday.  The reported natural activity of a relatively shallow soft slab on a very steep north facing chute at 11,000’ coincided with the bump in winds in the early afternoon.  Two skiers had slabs break above them, both slabs about a foot deep and up to 100’ wide.  These in upper elevation north facing terrain – one in Mill B North of BCC, and the other with little detail on exact location in upper BCC.  Both escaped without being caught.  A skier in the Y couloir, a steep north-facing chute in lower Little Cottonwood Canyon, was not so lucky.  Overcome by a fast moving loose snow avalanche, he rag-dolled down the last 300’ of the gulley, bouncing off the walls and losing much of his gear.   Fortunately, he was not seriously injured.


It’ll be a mixed bag of problems in the backcountry today.  Red flags include the strong initial southwest and then northwest winds, the heavier 6-10” on top of Friday’s low density fluff, and a rash of weak faceted snow formed late in the week.  The winds will have loaded many slopes off the ridgelines and around sub-ridges and gulley sidewalls, forming both soft and hard slabs.  Slope cuts, hasty pits, and test slopes will offer some clues with the new snow and wind slab problems, but the hard drifts will be more stubborn and trickier to gauge.  We may finally have enough of a load to activate some of the weak layers formed during the day Thursday and subsequently buried.  Collapsing will give some indication here as well, as will more dedicated snow-pit tests.  These weak layers have been found on a variety of aspects and elevations and seem patchy in the Cottonwoods and more pronounced in the other outlying areas.  Avalanches failing on these layers may pull out above you or at a distance, may trigger other slides.  Insult to injury here is that many of them are sitting on a perfect bed surface of old wind and suncrusts.   The bottom line before the bottom line is that conditions will be quite varied and tricky today, and you’ll want to be on your game. 



Bottom Line:

Steep wind drifted slopes at the mid and upper elevations will have a CONSIDERABLE danger today.  Human triggered avalanches will be probable with natural avalanches possible.  You’ll want to evaluate each slope independently due to a wide array of variable conditions.  Steep non-wind affected slopes will have a MODERATE danger.


Mountain Weather:

A short-lived ridge of high pressure will build in for today and we’ll see diminishing cloud cover throughout the day.  The strong northwest winds should lose some steam by late morning, dropping to 20mph.  Temperatures will be in the low to upper teens at most mountain locations.  The mountains will have about 24 hours to catch its breath before the next storm moves through late Monday.  An additional 1-2’ of snow in favored locations is possible.


  Click here for the National Weather Service graphic Forecast. 



Early birds and snow geeks can catch our 6AM report at 364-1591.

You can find our mountain weather forecast here by about noon each day.


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, call Snowbird at 933-2147.  Visit www.backcountryawareness.com for more details.


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 Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood, and Provo canyons, which is updated as needed. 801-975-4838.

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Cardiff, Silver, and American Fork yesterday and will try to hit AF, the Sessions, and Cascade, with a home run out White Pine.   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.

I will update this advisory by 7:30 Monday morning.  Thanks for calling.