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, February 25, 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, February 25, 2007 and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


I’ll be giving a talk at the Wild Rose in the avenues Tuesday night at 7pm.  It’s a higher level talk on Forecasting the Different Avalanche Dragons.  Bring your Crazy Creek Chair and a picnic basket.


Current Conditions:

Better late than never.  Friday’s storm provided much needed relief and we have a few more good storms on the way.  It’s already snowing through most of the northern mountains with 6-10” expected during the day.  Warmer air pushing into the area has mountain temperatures into the teens and low twenties.  The winds have shifted west and southwest and have increased to 25-30mph along the exposed ridgelines.   The sunny aspects crusted with the sun, but the northerly aspects reminded me of the good old days.   


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Explosive work in uncompacted terrain in upper Little Cottonwood and mitigation to protect the highways produced a couple good slides into old faceted snow up to 4’ deep on steep north and northeast facing terrain.  Backcountry teams also found some excitement, particularly on steep sheltered terrain in drainages above Mill Creek.  The intrepid Bob Athey dropped a cornice in upper West Porter, triggering a slide 24-30” deep and 80’ wide on a steep northeast facing slope at 9300’.  Another up and coming observer remotely triggered a large avalanche (another photo) into old faceted snow adjacent to Little Water Peak on a 33 degree northeast facing slope at 9400’.   Collapsing of new wind drifts and the facet/crust combo should still alert the backcountry wanderer to a still cranky pack.


Clear and cold from yesterday hastened both the development of surface hoar and faceting of the snow surface, which won’t bode well for today’s anticipated snow and winds.  Kobernik has a good photo here.  If the winds and snow amounts verify, I’d expect very tender new wind drifts along the ridgelines and over steep breakovers.  Remote and sympathetically triggered slides will be likely in the new snow, which should throw a wrench into classic route finding and runout zones.  Drop a few cornices and move through lower angled slopes and test slopes to verify the initial hypothesis here. 

Elsewhere in depth-hoar land, the good news is that they’re becoming more difficult to trigger.  The bad news is that they are becoming more difficult to trigger.  Like Tremper’s ‘monster out of the closet’ from a couple weeks ago, you may go slope after slope without any activity, only to find a superweak zone to trigger a hard slab into old snow 2-4’ deep.  Their habitat remains on northwest through east facing slopes above about 8500’. 


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

The danger is CONSIDERABLE today on steep wind drifted slopes and in areas that receive the most snow.  All aspects at the higher elevations are likely to be sensitive today due to poor bonding with yesterday’s snow surface.  The danger of triggering a slide into old snow is MODERATE but likely unsurvivable.  It takes considerable route finding skills and self discipline to be wandering the backcountry these days.


Mountain Weather: 

A strong moist westerly flow will spread, at times, heavy snowfall in the mountains today with 6-10” in favored areas.  The westerly winds should pick up into the 30mph range along the higher peaks with temps in the upper teens at 10,000’ and the upper 20’s at 8000’.  We should get a quick break before a series of storms move in Tuesday through Friday. 



Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Cardiff, Silver, Grizzly, and American Fork.  They won’t fly today due to weather.  Outstanding work by Ryan Carlson and Spencer Wheatley on the body recovery off Gobbler’s on Thursday.  With questions regarding their areas of operation call 742-2800.


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 all the great snowpack and avalanche observations we’ve been getting, so keep leaving us messages 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.