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 10, 2008  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 10, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


I would like to again thank all those responsible for putting together a successful 5th Backcountry Awareness week, highlighted by the dinner and Three Cups of Tea presentation by author David Oliver Relin on Friday night.  Sponsors for the week include the Snowbird Renaissance Center, Snowbird Mountain Resort, the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Black Diamond, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, Exum Utah, and the King’s English bookstore.  Please go out of your way to thank these partners who help to support backcountry awareness.


There are still a few slots left for our 3 day avalanche workshop scheduled for next weekend.  Contact the Black Diamond retail store to sign up - this is sure to fill soon.


Current Conditions:

Skies are mostly clear and, thankfully, finally, the west to southwest winds are less than 15mph, even at the highest elevations.  High and low elevation temperatures are in the mid to upper teens, with the thermal belt boasting temps in the mid to upper twenties.  Green-housing and warming temperatures yesterday added some insult to the wind-injured snow surface conditions, resulting in cream-cheese textured wind jack up high and saturated glop down low.  Hero-snow, it is not; though remember the privilege it always is to be in the mountains.


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

The rapid warming and cook-lid of clouds hastened the saturation of the upper layers at the mid and low elevations, resulting in a few decent wet debris piles beneath steeper southerly and northerly slopes.  Moreover, the temps caused many roofs to shed their winter coats while adding stress to many of the over-hung cornices developed from the strong westerly winds from the past couple of days.  This forecaster nearly rode a semi-trailer sized cornice down the slope after it broke 10’ back from the edge and 40’ across the ridgeline, taking out the skin track (photo1, photo2).  And I wasn’t alone, as many others reported multi-ton chunks of snow calving off onto the slopes below.  As far as I heard, only one pulled out anything below, a 4’ deep 75’ wide pocket in mid-LCC on a steep north facing slope at 10,300’.  Extensive shooting in only semi-compacted terrain yielded minor results.   


Light winds, clear skies and direct sun will conspire with near freezing temperatures at 10,000’ to produce ripe conditions for wet avalanching on all sun-exposed slopes and on saturated slopes at the shady mid and low elevations.  Spontaneous human initiated sluffs will be likely during the heat of the day, and will entrain a dangerous amount of snow, potentially running far on many of the greased tracks.  Avoid being in terrain in and just above terrain traps such as gulleys and cut-banks, as debris may pile up in impressive amounts.  With saturated snow, move diagonally across the fall line, lingering only on sub-ridges, and ensure you’re not knocking snow down on parties below. 


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

The avalanche danger is mostly MODERATE this morning, but will rise to CONSIDERABLE with daytime heating not only on all sun exposed slopes, but the shady slopes at the mid and low elevations.  Isolated wind drifts may still be sensitive along the highest, easterly facing ridgelines, and take care to give the groaning cornices a wide berth.  Timing and wise terrain management will be critical to worry-free tours today. 


Mountain Weather:

Clear skies will be accompanied by light winds and warming temps to the mid to upper 30’s at 8000’.  A weak storm passes to the north tomorrow, with a more vigorous storm crashing through on Wednesday.   


Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew a recon down along the Cascade Ridgeline above Provo, and today are likely to operate in American Fork, Cascade, and Lambs Canyon. They may utilize White Pine or the Patsy Marley area for a home run.  Go online to check their area of operations for today.  For more detailed information please call (801) 742-2800 or go to their daily blog.

Backcountry Awareness Week avalanche safety clinics are being held at Snowbird today. For more information, call 933-2147 or go to http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/fuac-events.htm.


There are a few spots left in the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center’s Brighton Level 1 Avalanche class, February 16-18.  For more information, call 278-0233.


For folks with an Alta pass, ACE (Alta Community Enrichment) is offering an avalanche awareness class the evening of Feb 12 and 13, and ½ day the 16th, for $25.  Pre Register at [email protected].


If you want to get this avalanche advisory e-mailed to you daily click HERE.
UDOT highway avalanche control work info can be found by calling
(801) 975-4838.
Our statewide tollfree line is 1-888-999-4019 (early morning, option 8).

The UAC depends on contributions from users like you to support our work.  To find out more about how you can support our efforts to continue providing the avalanche forecasting and education that you expect please visit our Friends page.

If you see any avalanches or interesting snow conditions, 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.