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, December 10, 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, December 10, 2007 and it’s about 7:30 am.


ACE will be sponsoring a free women's beacon clinic this Thursday, December 13th, from 9 am until around noon.  Meet inside the Albion Grill at Alta's Ski Lift's upper lot.  Skies, snowshoes or just boots OK.  Extra beacons will be available. 


Alta Community Enrichment will be holding a three day local’s avalanche clinic DECEMBER 12, 13, and 15.  For more information call 742-9712 OR EMAIL [email protected].


Current Conditions:

Skies are clear and temperatures have plummeted to the single digits at most locations.  The southwesterly winds are generally light, although they spiked a bit into the 20mph range for a few hours early this morning.  Trail-breaking is somewhat improved as skiing and riding conditions are as good as they’ve been all year.  Some sun-breaks and green-housing yesterday produced a zipper crust on many of the sunny and mid-elevation slopes and coverage now sits at 3-4’, which is about the depth of some of the avalanches we’re seeing.


Avalanche Discussion:

Four more large avalanches ripped out in the backcountry yesterday with one very close call just on the north side of Cardiff Peak along the Big/Little Cottonwood ridgeline.  A touring party of four unintentionally triggered a 3’ deep and 300’ wide avalanche as they were ascending near the east ridge of the peak.  It’s the standard, if not a bit exposed, route folks take to access certain backcountry terrain, but the ridge is difficult to stay on and the open slope lures you out on to it.  I know it well – Bruce and I triggered a large avalanche there a few years ago in about the same spot with similar snowpack conditions.  Just next door in Days Fork, a party intentionally triggered two sizeable avalanches with cornice drops.  They were estimated to be 2-3’ deep and 200’ wide.  They were able capture the release on camera and it’s worth watching here - www.pitonproductions.com/RandomVids/DaysAvy.wmv – though it’ll probably take a high-speed connection to download.  While a good way to test the stability of the snow, dropping cornices is a dangerous affair – it’s very possible for the wave to release behind you as you topple down onto the slope below.  Over above Desolation Lake in upper Mill D North, another skier unintentionally triggered a slide into old snow, but was reportedly not caught.  This too is a notorious steep northeast facing slope at 9700’ with a long history of avalanching. 


Folks are finding excellent, safe riding conditions out there, but they’re intentionally avoiding the steep northerly slopes.  Turn the compass to the west or east, and you have a different ballgame, with only new snow instabilities or shallow drifting to worry about.  These are what I like to call ‘manageable’ problems.  They respond well to ski cuts, cornice drops, and tend to break at your feet.  The slides breaking to the ground are unmanageable.  They are too big, too wide, and too dangerous to play with.  And they’re not going away anytime soon.  I suspect that we’ll hear of avalanches into old snow throughout the week.


Bottom Line:

Salt Lake, Park City, and Provo area mountains: Pockets of CONSIDERABLE danger remain on northwest, north, and northeast facing slopes above about 9000’.  The danger may be more pronounced and widespread in the upper reaches of the Cottonwoods and the Provo mountains. Pockets of MODERATE exist in the new snow that has been blown into shallow drifts high along the ridgelines facing to the north and east. 


Ogden area mountains: A MODERATE exists along the higher shady elevations.   


Mountain Weather: 

A weak storm from the north will spell cooling temperatures and increasing cloud cover throughout the day.  We’ll perhaps see an inch or two in the mountains.  Winds should remain light from the west.  We’ll remain in an unsettled northwesterly flow with a few minor disturbances.  Models suggest another decent storm for the weekend.



For an avalanche education class list, click HERE.  

If you want to get this avalanche advisory e-mailed to you daily click

The UAC has temporary job openings for doing avalanche outreach in more rural areas.
  Click HERE for info.

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 our classic text advisory click HERE.

If you’re getting out and see anything we should know about please let us know.  You can leave 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 Tuesday morning.