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, March 12, 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, March 12, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.

Current Conditions:

The strong early morning south and easterly winds yesterday wreaked havoc with the backcountry riding conditions while catalyzing a new series of skier-triggered avalanches across the range.  Fortunately, this morning there’s hardly a whisper to go with plunging temperatures into the single digits.  Cold instability showers keyed another inch or two up high overnight and we’ll continue the pattern through the day. 


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

A 34 year old snowboarder remains missing in an avalanche accident yesterday in an out-of-bounds area north and west of Snowbasin.  He reportedly triggered and was buried by a 1-2’ deep hard slab on a steep northwest facing slope at about 8400’.  Evelyn and Brett are heading up to investigate the incident and we’ll have a report on the advisory for tomorrow.  Two very experienced skiers were caught in similar slides yesterday in the Central Wasatch.  One skier was caught on the north side of Mt. Raymond (along the BCC/Mill Creek ridgeline) after triggering an 18” wind slab.  He was able to arrest onto the bed surface as the snow washed over a cliff-band not far below.  Up canyon, a hard slab breaking 50’ above him into old snow surprised a skier, carrying him a short way before he was able to get out of the moving snow.   The 18” deep and 70’ wide avalanche ran on a steep east facing rounded shoulder at about 9000’.  Other slides of interest were triggered down low in Main Days in upper Big Cottonwood Canyon on steep wind loaded convex rollovers.  They were pockety, 12” deep and about 30’ wide.  Others can be found on our avalanche list.


With 24 hours to heal, many, but definitely not all, of these wind drifts will have likely gained strength.  They can still be found on many upper and mid elevation lee and cross-loaded steep slopes.  Due to the complexity of the loading patterns due to terrain channeling, you’ll need to assess each slope individually.  Stubborn hard slabs may not react to the first slope cut and may certainly rip out above you.   Look for and avoid any drifted pillowy and rounded snow before they’re covered up by the new snow. 


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger remains MODERATE today on mid and upper elevation drifted slopes steeper than 35 degrees.  Non wind affected areas will have a mostly LOW danger.


Mountain Weather:

We’ll have cold unsettled weather today with light westerly winds and periods of snow.  Temps will be in the single digits at 10,000’ and the upper teens at 8000’.  We stay unsettled for the next couple days before another strong cold front moves through Tuesday night.



Here is a great link to a web site on avalanche beacon information, created by a person who did independent research and testing of avalanche beacons.   http://beaconreviews.com/transceivers/index.htm


There are several free automated avalanche beacon practice areas open, including one at Canyons (currently being fixed), one on the by-pass road near Snowbird, one in the northwest corner of the lower lot at Solitude, and one at Nobletts Trail head in the western Uintas.  They are really easy to use, and well worth stopping for a quick practice session.

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

Click here to check out our new online avalanche encyclopedia.

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

To have this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day, click HERE. 

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.

Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird Guides remained on the deck.  They’ll likely be on the same program today.  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.