Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Drew Hardesty for Saturday - December 31, 2016 - 4:27am
bottom line

We have a mostly LOW avalanche danger. Shallow soft and hard wind pockets may still be found in isolated terrain. These wind drifts may not be large enough to bury you, but they may be enough to knock you off your feet. Terrain and consequence go hand in hand.

special announcement

The Salt Lake City premier of The Fourth Phase from the creators of The Art of Flight will at Brewvies at 7 pm on Monday, Jan 9 as a fundraiser for the Utah Avalanche Center. For tickets and details, go to https://utahavalanchecenter.org/event/fourth-phase

Brighton has amended their uphill travel plan. You can find it here - http://www.brightonresort.com/mountain/ski-patrol/brighton-resort-uphill-travel-plan/

The National Avalanche Center just released this new video on the avalanche problems and how they work. This is a key aspect to mountain travel: understanding what type of avalanche you're dealing with.

current conditions

Skies are clear. Mountain temps are in the teens, winds are west to northwesterly, blowing 10-15mph along the ridgelines. Snow surface conditions are best described as variable. Bruce Englehard's description: "Variable surface conditions exist with widespread wind sculpting, sastrugi, and wind board. The main problem is avoiding the tracks from snow machines, skiers and snowboarders." On the other side of the compass, breakable sun-crusts exist on the southerly aspects. Still, one can hunt and peck for soft settled powder in the weakening snow surface in the low to mid elevation sheltered terrain.

Week in Review by Greg Gagne

Snow totals from the Christmas storm in the Salt Lake and Park City mountains ranged from 10-26" with about 2" water weight. The Provo mountains received about half that amount. The big winner was the northern Wasatch with the Ogden area mountains receiving 15-30" and 2.5" of water.

The Christmas storm wound down by late Sunday night, with Monday featuring cold, clear weather and 5-star ski conditions. Winds began to blow on Tuesday and Wednesday, and generally out of the west. There was some limited avalanche activity reported from the backcountry consisting of fresh wind slabs, but most observers on Thursday reported the recent wind slabs to be stubborn and unreactive to stability tests. Thursday featured warm and clear weather with light winds.

recent activity

None from the backcountry. Explosive testing in upper Little Cottonwood yielded a couple hard wind drifts 6-24" deep. No other signs of instability noted.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
over the next 24 hours

It's mostly Low danger, what could possibly go wrong?

Risk is inherent in mountain travel.

Low danger doesn't mean No danger.

Shallow soft and hard wind pockets and ever-mercurial cornices still litter the high alpine terrain and while most are fairly welded in, consider the consequences of getting knocked off your feet or ride in high consequence terrain. Sound too general? My good friend Charlie Borgh was killed 10 years ago by a small avalanche that swept him and his partner 3000' down Mt Deltaform in the Canadian Rockies. His partner survived. In Februrary 2007, two snowshoers triggered a 5" hard wind slab on the east ridge of the Pfeifferhorn, tumbling them to the south over cliff-bands into upper Dry Creek.

Remember that one tends to transition from "backcountry skiing and riding" to something entirely different in the alpine with its attendant risk and glory. The key is to make deliberate, intentional decisions with calculated risk. What could possibly go wrong?


We'll have mostly clear skies. Temps will rise to the low to mid-20s at 10,000' and the upper 20s to low 30s at 8000'. Winds will blow 10-15mph from the west northwest. Winds will increase from the southwest tomorrow ahead of a cold storm arriving from the northwest Sunday night. This cold storm lacks significant moisture but should provide 6-10"+ of cold smoke by Monday. Models aren't well aligned at this point for details into next week.

general announcements

Remember your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please help us out by submitting snow and avalanche conditions. You can also call us at 801-524-5304, email by clicking HERE, or include #utavy in your tweet or Instagram.

To get help in an emergency (to request a rescue) in the Wasatch, call 911. Be prepared to give your GPS coordinates or the run name. Dispatchers have a copy of the Wasatch Backcountry Ski map.

Backcountry Emergencies. It outlines your step-by-step method in the event of a winter backcountry incident.

If you trigger an avalanche in the backcountry, but no one is hurt and you do not need assistance, please notify the nearest ski area dispatch to avoid a needless response by rescue teams. Thanks.

EMAIL ADVISORY If you would like to get the daily advisory by email you will need to subscribe here.

DAWN PATROL Hotline updated daily by 5-530am - 888-999-4019 option 8.

TWITTER Updates for your mobile phone - DETAILS

UDOT canyon closures: LINK TO UDOT, or on Twitter, follow @UDOTavy, @CanyonAlerts or @AltaCentral

Utah Avalanche Center mobile app - Get your advisory on your iPhone along with great navigation and rescue tools.

Powderbird Helicopter Skiing - Blog/itinerary for the day

Lost or Found something in the backcountry? - http://nolofo.com/

Ski Utah mobile snow updates

To those skinning uphill at resorts: it is critical to know the resort policy on uphill travel. You can see the uphill travel policy for each resort here.

Benefit the Utah Avalanche Center when you shop from Backcountry.com or REI: Click this link for Backcountry.com or this link to REI, shop, and they will donate a percent of your purchase price to the UAC. Both offer free shipping (with some conditions) so this costs you nothing!

Benefit the Utah Avalanche Center when you buy or sell on ebay - set the Utah Avalanche Center as a favorite non-profit in your ebay account here and click on ebay gives when you buy or sell. You can choose to have your seller fees donated to the UAC, which doesn't cost you a penny.

This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done. This advisory is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always exist.