Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Salt Lake Area Mountains Issued by Mark Staples for Wednesday - December 6, 2017 - 6:20am
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Layers of faceted snow lurk in the snowpack on northerly facing, upper elevation slopes. These layer and a fresh load of new snow from Monday make the danger MODERATE on these slopes. Faceted layers have been found on mid elevation slopes but they do not appear to be widespread. Watch for and avoid slopes with any recent wind loading which will increase the stress on buried faceted layers making avalanches easier to trigger.

Since coverage is thin and weak faceted layers plague the snowpack where it is deepest, play it safe and ride slopes less than 30 degrees in steepness. With limited terrain available for riding (low tide as some call it), take the time to practice with your rescue gear if you get out.

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Looking for a great stocking stuffer for Christmas? Discount lift tickets for Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude, Deer Valley, Snowbasin,and Beaver Mountain are now available, donated by the resorts to benefit the Utah Avalanche Center. Details and order information here. These make a great holiday gift and all proceeds go towards paying for avalanche forecasting and education!

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Please abide by the uphill travel policies of the ski resorts. Info here.

current conditions

This morning temperatures are mostly around 15 degrees F (about 10 degrees warmer than this time yesterday). A few low spots have single digit temperatures. Winds at ridgetops increased since yesterday and are blowing from the north 15 mph gusting to 25 mph.

The storm from Sunday/Monday delivered 14-18" of snow in the Cottonwoods and 6-10" along the Park City Ridgeline. Settled snow depths above 9000 feet on northerly aspects are 20-30 inches and half that amount on southerly aspects that were bare dirt prior to this storm.

recent activity

One ski area triggered a small avalanche yesterday where snowmaking loaded a steep grassy slope that had old, faceted snow underneath. This slide is a heads up for what could happen in the backcountry on slopes with a fresh wind slab. Some avalanches were spotted yesterday along Cardiac Ridge (in Cardiff Fork) on northerly facing chutes that appeared to have been wind loaded and happened on Monday near the end of the storm. See photo below from M. White. Read his full ob here.

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

Although there hasn't been widespread reported avalanche activity, there has been some and it's only been 48 hours since 1-1.4 inches of water weight was added to the snowpack. There are several faceted layers in the snowpack under new snow - take your pick. Yesterday in Grizzly Gulch, I easily found weak facets above a crust from Thanksgiving and my snowpack tests produced unstable results. Unfortunately these weak, faceted layers live where the snowpack is the deepest and coverage is the best - where we want to ride to avoid hitting rocks. The main point is that we shouldn't trust faceted snow. The solution is to simply choose low angle slopes or ones that don't harbor these faceted layers.

Additionally increased winds from the North may cross load some northerly slopes adding just enough extra weight to make triggering a persistent slab avalanche easier today. While I doubt there has been widespread wind loading, definitely avoid any slope with recently wind deposited snow.


Today will have more clear and cold weather. Winds will continue and even increase some from the North at 15-25 mph with some higher gusts. Temperatures will rise into the mid to upper 20's F. For the long term weather forecast - sadly, no snow is expected in the next 7-10 days.

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.

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

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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

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.

Support the UAC through your daily shopping. When you shop at Smith's, or online at REI, Backcountry.com, Patagonia, NRS, Amazon, eBay by clicking on these links, they donate a portion of your purchase to the FUAC. If you sell on eBay, you can have your See our Donate Page for more details on how you can support the UAC when you shop.

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 occur.