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


Monday, February 05, 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 Monday, February 05, 2007 and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


We’ve been experiencing difficulties recording our telephone lines during times of high volumes of callers trying to reach the hotline.  Please wait until 7:15am or so to call.  Early birds may want to call our 6am recording at 1-888-999-4019 option 8.  Thanks.

Current Conditions:

A disturbance passing by to the northeast yesterday provided drizzly conditions in the northern and central Wasatch with perhaps an inch of heavy snow up high.  The good news is the skies are clear and, more importantly, the northwesterly winds lost their steam and are now less than 15mph at most locations.  Mountain temperatures are at 24 hour highs this morning, in the mid to upper twenties above 8000’ enroute daytime highs of the upper 30’s at 10,000’ and mid 40’s at 8000’. 


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

We received continued reports of cracking, collapsing, and human triggered avalanches in the backcountry.  One skier over near Reynolds Peak in mid-BCC had a cornice break behind him and fell onto the slope below, triggering a 10-16” deep and 40’ wide soft slab into the aspens (photo).  Two others survived a close call in the Cinder Chutes, steep northeast facing terrain at about 9400’ in an out of bounds area adjacent to the Canyons Mountain Resort.  The first skier remotely triggered part of the area, having a smaller persistent slab break out 100’ above him.  The next skier, on his descent, also remotely triggered a slide 25’ above him 12-18” deep which then stepped down to near the ground on weak sugary faceted snow.  It broke out 3-4’ deep and up to 150’ wide, running 700’ down the slope.  He was fortunately able to grab a tree and let the snow rush by. 


Another report of an incident trickled in from Saturday where a skier was caught and carried down a steep chute above Red Pine Lake (map) in the upper Red Pine drainage of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  The 3-12” hard slab reportedly broke 50-100’ wide 30’ above the skier, carrying him 300’ down the slope.  He crashed into a rock, lost a ski, and was buried to his waist. 


The strong winds certainly rang the bell of our sorry snowpack, and things may take a while to heal.  At least the warming temperatures will add another spice to the kettle in the way of wet avalanche activity on the steep sun exposed slopes.  On the other side of the compass, stick to the lower angled slopes and remain alert to collapsing in the snowpack.  Cornices will remain sensitive with the heat as well.  Remotely triggered slides will be more common on mid and upper elevation northwest through east facing aspects, but hard slabs can be found at many elevations, though primarily on north through south facing aspects.  As the snowpack is weaker outside of the Cottonwoods, any slide triggered may step to near the ground, as evidenced by yesterday’s close call.  Rapid warming like what we expect today may accentuate the ‘trigger-ability’ of the hard persistent slabs – take caution.


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

Today, the avalanche danger is MODERATE on any slope steeper than about 35 degrees with recent drifts of wind blown snow.  Hard slabs and remotely triggered slides are devious, and consequences may be severe.  The danger of wet activity may rise to CONSIDERABLE with daytime heating.  Avoid mid and late afternoon exits on the steep sunny slopes.


Mountain Weather: 

The bluebird will sing today with light winds and temps warming to the mid-40’s at 8000’.  The ridge will persist through tomorrow before a series of increasingly moist westerly storms affect the area into and through the weekend. 


Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly, but today they’ll be in AF and White Pine, and the Cascade Ridgeline. With questions regarding their areas of operation call 742-2800.

On February 8th at 7:30, there will be a Teton Skiing documentary at Brewvies. 


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

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


Our statewide tollfree line is 1-888-999-4019 (early morning, 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.

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