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.

keeping you on top


Sunday, January 07, 2007  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory, and today is Sunday, January 07, 2007. 


Current Conditions:

Nothing like a little wind to wreak havoc with the riding and avalanche conditions in the backcountry.  The west to northwest winds averaged 35-45mph while some of the more exposed anemometers had gusts over 100mph for a couple hours.  Even the snow devils down in the flats were enough to knock you down.  It tried to snow yesterday and as far as we can tell, the central Wasatch picked up 2-5” of new.  Temps have fallen into the single digits and are below zero in the highest terrain.  Despite the havoc, sheltered slopes will still have decent, if not variable snow conditions.   

Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

With the amount of light density snow available for transport, it wasn’t surprising to see the avalanche conditions ramp up in a hurry.  The strong winds produced some naturalling on some exposed steep east facing slopes and allowed for easy human triggering of the new wind blown snow.  Most were about a foot deep but rarely more than 50’ across.  Observers reporting loud collapsing of the hard slabs over the low density snow and at least four parties remotely triggered (photo) new wind slabs, which, in turn, sympathetic’ed out other pockets.  Shooting cracks served immediate notice as well. 


As it doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, it didn’t take an avalanche expert to know that things were spicy.  The avalanching yesterday was like catching those dumb wilderness trout that’ll hit anything – avalanching, shooting cracks, whoomphing and collapsing – it was all there.  Today, things will be a bit more locked up and stubborn, and much less predictable.  Hard wind slabs will allow you to get way out onto the slope prior to pulling out and may even allow for a run or two prior to failure.  While the snow numbers weren’t astronomical from the past few days, the rapid wind loading may allow for any initiated slide to step into older faceted snow. 


Stronger winds along the ridgelines will continue to load steep lee starting zones so watch for a fresh batch of sensitive drifts.  Watch for and avoid fat, pillowy starting zones and be alert to hollow drum like sounds of hard slabs over weaker snow.  Whatever cornices remain will likely be dangerous and break back farther than expected.


Bottom Line for the Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden and Provo area mountains:

While the avalanche conditions will be less widespread and sensitive as they were yesterday, pockets of CONSIDERABLE remain on steep wind loaded slopes at the mid and upper elevations.  These will be most pronounced on northeast through southeast facing slopes at the upper elevations, but terrain channeling loaded all points on compass off the ridgelines. 


Mountain Weather: 

Skies will be partly cloudy with temps in the low twenties at 8000’ and the low teens at 10,000’.  The northwest winds will blow 35+mph, but will be confined to the high ridgelines.  High pressure will build for the early part of the week with a good storm for mid-week and beyond.



The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will try to fly in AF and Snake Creek today.

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We appreciate any snowpack and avalanche observations you have, so please leave us a message at (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or email us at [email protected]. (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.

will update this advisory by 7:30 on Monday morning, and thanks for calling.