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 21, 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.  Today is Sunday, January 21, 2007 and it’s 7:30 in the morning.

Our partners, the Friends of the UAC, are hosting numerous events during the 4th Annual Backcountry Awareness Week, including a photo show by Scott Markowitz at the Rose Wagner Theater on Jan 24th, a slide show and book signing by Jill Fredston at REI on Jan 26th, a star studded snowmobile ride and dinner on Jan. 27th, a dinner February 2 at The Canyons with Olympic Gold Medal Winner Jim Shea, and avalanche classes at the Canyons on February 3rd and 4th.  Details are below, or click here for more information.


Current Conditions:

In the late October of 1776, while looking for a route from Santa Fe to California, the Spanish missionaries, Fathers Dominguez and Escalante looked up at the snow-capped mountains above what is now Moab and were confused.  No one in their right mind, down in the late autumn heat of the modern day Spanish Valley would have considered the white stuff to be snow, and so, aptly, they named the mountains ‘The La Sals’, or ‘The Salt Mountains’.   Some very unusual weather moved through yesterday afternoon and overnight and in the past 12 hours, the Wasatch Mountains picked up a few inches of what must be 5-7% density salt.  The Logan, Ogden, Park City and Provo mountains added 2-4” while mid-canyon Big and upper Little Cottonwood Canyon picked up 6-8”.  The passing of the cold front dropped temps into the single digits and the northwesterly winds are quiet except in the highest terrain, where they’ve been blowing 20-30mph.  While others this morning have derisively referred to the new fluff as ‘lipstick on a pig’, my glass is half full.


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

The cold new snow won’t bond well to the old pre-existing snow surfaces of hard wind slab, sun crust, surface hoar and facets, and in the longest, steepest terrain, I’d expect the sluffs to move fast and entrain a fair amount of snow.  While you’re scratching around on the dust on crust, consider the terrain around you and consequences of getting buried in a terrain trap.  Locally sensitive wind drifts will be relegated to the highest terrain and most pronounced on the east through southerly aspects.  Remember the old safe travel protocol?


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

Sorry Evelyn, but it’s a new bottom line.  In areas that picked up the most snow, you’ll see a MODERATE danger of widespread sluffing on the steepest terrain and a few shallow soft slabs easily triggered by the weight of a person along the lee of the highest, most exposed ridgelines. 


Mountain Weather: 

Things are already winding down and we can expect to see only a few isolated showers for the next couple hours.  Temps will remain in the single digits up high and max into the low teens by early afternoon.  The winds will continue to veer north then northeast and maintain at 20-25mph.  You’d never guess that a ridge of high pressure will build back in for the remainder of the week.  Temps will again dip to the single digits and below tonight before a rapid warming trend puts things to near freezing by late Tuesday.



Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in American Fork.  Today, they’ll be in AF and White Pine with another ship in the Bountiful Sessions or along the Cascade Ridgeline above Provo.  If you have questions regarding their areas of operation you can contact them at 742-2800.

January 24th at 7:30pm, our partners, the Friends of UAC will be accepting donations at a photo show by mountain sports photographer Scott Markewitz. Shot both internationally and in Utah, Scott’s images have been showcased in the world’s most prestigious ski and outdoor and capture the essence of what keeps us alive, twitching and checking this report daily. Suggested donation $10. At the Rose Wagner Blackbox Theater, 138 W 300 S in downtown SLC.

On Friday, January 26th, the well-known Alaska avalanche expert, Jill Fredston will give a slide show and a lecture on, Snowstruck, her new book about her career with Alaska avalanches.  It will be at the Salt Lake REI at 7pm.  Sales from her book will benefit the Utah Avalanche Center.  She will also speak at Alta’s Our Lady of the Snows on Saturday night, January 27th.

On Saturday Jan. 27th, come join us for a star studded fundraising ride. Click here for more details or call 801-963-3819. 


Then there will be a Fundraising Dinner on Friday, February 2, 2007. The dinner will be at The Canyons and Olympic Gold Medal Winner Jim Shea will be the keynote speaker. For tickets and information visit www.UtahAvalancheCenter.com Also, the Canyons will be offering avalanche classes on Saturday and Sunday, February 3rd and 4th.  For more information and to register, call 435-615-3325.


Listen to the advisory.  Try our new streaming audio or podcasts

UDOT highway avalanche control work information can be found HERE or by calling (801) 975-4838.


Our new, state wide tollfree hotline is 1-888-999-4019.
(For early morning detailed avalanche activity report hit option 8)

For a list of avalanche classes, click HERE

For our classic text advisory click HERE.

To sign up for automated e-mails of our graphical advisory click HERE

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.

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