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“keeping you on top”
March 16, 2008 7:30 am
Good morning, this is
Yup, still snowing out
there with most areas picking up an additional 3-6” overnight of the 4-5% Wasatch
champagne powder. Totals are adding up
now to near 30” in favored areas of the Cottonwoods and near 20” in favored
Snow and Avalanche Discussion:
Just to get caught up, another report trickled in yesterday of a skier being caught and carried Friday on southeast facing Hellgate in upper Little Cottonwood. The slab broke above him and he was reportedly carried 100’. Action spilled into yesterday with another skier being caught and carried in what appears to be upper Days Fork. On a northeast facing slope at 9800’, the skier triggered a 1-2’ deep and 60’ wide soft slab, carrying him 50’. Everyone was reported to be ok. That makes at least 3 folks caught and carried in the past two days, with weak faceted snow reacting to the wealth of snow and triggers. Brett found a couple naturals in the faceted snow from Friday in steep mid-Alexander Basin of Mill Creek and his report can be found on our photos page. Collapsing in the new structure most of the way up the Cardiac Ridge rerouted one of our more keen observers yesterday, and diligent stability tests corroborate the avalanche activity on the weak layers formed last week during the spell of high pressure. The laundry list continues: pockety soft slabs in the new snow, and alternating dry and wet long running sluffs provided more widespread action on the steeper slopes, though these are less devious and more manageable than what’s been catching and carrying folks.
So we’ll continue to have numerous issues to deal with in the backcountry. Sure, it’ll be epic skiing and riding once again, but mind a few details. First, watch for continued sluffing in the low density snow on the steepest slopes. They’ll be enough to knock you off your feet and drag you through the trees or over rockbands, with burials likely in terrain traps. Second, if the northerly winds pick up out of the northeast this afternoon, watch for soft slab development and cracking along the highest, southerly and westerly aspects. Third, weak layers buried now 14-20” deep will still be reactive to human triggering at the mid and upper elevations, and so far, have been triggered on northeast through southeast facing slopes. I suspect that they’re not limited to these aspects. Collapsing and pit digging should assist in confirmation of this layering, but slope angles of 30-35 degrees should provide some, though not all of the insurance here. Might as well throw in the kitchen sink. In a highly convective spring atmosphere, watch for rapid changes in the weather. Any prolonged ‘sun-breaks’, as they call them in the Pacific Northwest, will immediately result in wet sluffing on the steep sunny slopes.
Bottom Line for the
All steep mid and
upper elevation slopes have at least a MODERATE danger today,
with human triggered sluffs probable and soft slabs possible. The danger is more pronounced in the
Practice safe travel procedures today, of only one person on a steep slope at a time both ascending and descending, and get out of the way at the bottom. With lots of people in the backcountry, if you are kicking cornices or ski cutting – make sure there is no one below you – any slide triggered may run further than expected, or could triggering a second slide to the side.
A moist, unstable environment will keep snow showers going for much of the day, with alternating periods of late sun. It’s spring. Might be briefly sunny in one canyon, and snowing in the next. Could see 3-6” during the day. Temps will be in the low twenties and low teens at 8000’ and 10,000’ and winds should remain generally light from the northeast. The winds may pick up to 20-25mph by late afternoon.
The Wasatch Powderbird Guides got in one run in
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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.