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Wasatch Avalanche Conditions

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the great state of Utah, from the alpine peaks to the desert slots. Please post partners requests and trip plans here or in the Utah Climbing Partners section.
 

Wasatch Avalanche Conditions

Postby Ed F » Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:58 pm

Hey Utahns,
Is anyone interested in an ongoing thread about avalanche conditions in the Wasatch? I'm not sure if there are enough of us on this site who routinely travel in avalanche terrain in the Wasatch to make it worthwhile, but I'm of the opinion that more information is always better than less. I know there are a few of us who tour 4-5 days a week during the winter on SP, and there are lots of people who get out and climb during the winter, also.

Here are my thoughts:
- The thread should be for avy conditions, not for trip reports, trip planning (already a great thread for that, anyway), hero shots, etc.
- Anyone should feel free to contribute, regardless of the depth of their avy knowledge. As I said above, more info is better than less info. For those of use who have more experience, let's not be jerkoffs to people asking honest questions and trying to learn.
- Photos are great.

Images:

Use this album to upload images and attach them to this thread: Utah Avalanche Conditions Photos
Last edited by Ed F on Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Ed F » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:19 pm

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Postby marauders » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:25 pm

I currently view the telemarktips.com forum and the TGR forum for avy obs, but the TGR one is quite cumbersome with all of the smack. I'll definitely participate when I'm out in the backcountry. Unfortunately I only get out once a week or so. I only wish I could get out 4-5 per week! Maybe some day.
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Postby marauders » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:25 pm

I currently view the telemarktips.com forum and the TGR forum for avy obs, but the TGR one is quite cumbersome with all of the smack. I'll definitely participate when I'm out in the backcountry. Unfortunately I only get out once a week or so. I only wish I could get out 4-5 per week! Maybe some day.
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Postby Ed F » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:37 pm

Observation: Willow Fork, BCC, 12-15

We found fairly stable conditions on the ridge between Willow Fork and USA Bowl, mostly because the snowpack was very shallow because of excessive wind-transporting. We skied into west-facing trees in Willow Fork and found an extremely hollow snowpack with shooting cracks and collapses on 25-28 degree terrain. I found a small natural release at about 9000' that ran on an 28-30 degree slope for about fifty feet.

Across the street, we saw a natural release in the Meadow Chutes in Silver Fork, in the "first meadow." It was in the concavity next to the sub-ridge separating this meadow from the second one. A touring party had skied the sub-ridge with no issues above the slide.

Photo:
Image

Prior to this last storm, the faceted snow that developed with the cold temps and the shallow snowpack created a snowpack so hollow that we were fooling around and playing the drums on it with our poles in Patsy Marley in LCC. The faceted snow on the ground is the obvious weak layer and most slides seem to be running on top of it.

It's hairy out there, folks. Like the Avy Report said, "it's more Colorado than Colorado."
Last edited by Ed F on Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Ed F » Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:40 pm

marauders wrote:I currently view the telemarktips.com forum and the TGR forum for avy obs, but the TGR one is quite cumbersome with all of the smack. I'll definitely participate when I'm out in the backcountry. Unfortunately I only get out once a week or so. I only wish I could get out 4-5 per week! Maybe some day.


Yeah, the TGR Thread and the TTips Thread have a lot of good info, but like you said, there's too much "smack" for my taste and way too much fluff. There are some Wasatch vets there like Andrew McLean and Bob Athey, but there are too many egos for me to keep up with. My dislike of those threads gave me this idea.
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Postby seanpeckham » Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:55 am

sisyphus wrote:
marauders wrote:I currently view the telemarktips.com forum and the TGR forum for avy obs, but the TGR one is quite cumbersome with all of the smack. I'll definitely participate when I'm out in the backcountry. Unfortunately I only get out once a week or so. I only wish I could get out 4-5 per week! Maybe some day.


Yeah, the TGR Thread and the TTips Thread have a lot of good info, but like you said, there's too much "smack" for my taste and way too much fluff. There are some Wasatch vets there like Andrew McLean and Bob Athey, but there are too many egos for me to keep up with. My dislike of those threads gave me this idea.


I agree with you guys. I lurk on the thread on telemarktips, but the egos there are insane; this site is much friendlier. In fact, it seems like most of the people there who aren't jerks are here too, like you guys and trackhead. On the other hand, this would be one more thing to have to check, which could end up being redundant with the other sources. But with our smaller community and if we aren't just reposting stuff from elsewhere I agree it would be useful without being overwhelming, and I will certainly follow it and hopefully contribute (but I only get out once or twice a week too).

Thanks sisyphus for actually saying where you made your observation and using names that you don't have to be in some insider circle to understand! I wish I had something to add but I haven't been out since Saturday.
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Postby Ed F » Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:54 pm

Thanks sisyphus for actually saying where you made your observation and using names that you don't have to be in some insider circle to understand!


Ha, yeah. When I first toured here in '06 I was blown away by all of the local names for everything. I'm a big fan of using named terrain features and cardinal directions. The best part is that many places have more than one "insider" name. There have been guidebooks about the Wasatch out for more than a decade now--it's not a secret, guys.
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Postby Ed F » Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:59 pm

It doesn't seem like there is a ton of interest in doing this, but I'll keep posting observations for a little while. I agree that having one more of these in addition to TTips and TGR is redundant, but I thought I'd give it a try.

Observation: Summit Park Peak, Parleys Canyon, 12-17

Skinned to the sub-ridge below the main peak to ski the north-facing trees. Still lots of cracking in the snowpack, although shaded, north-facing terrain seemed to be a bit better, curiously. Areas where the wind had loaded were the most problematic. Much shallower snowpack in this part of the Wasatch, and it was barely possible to ski down. I'm curious to see what the repeated days of warm weather will do.

I'm really worried that someone is going to take a ride this weekend.
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Postby seanpeckham » Sun Dec 20, 2009 1:10 am

Went up the Willow Fork/USA Bowl ridge to the Park City ridgeline today. An old small slide below the radio towers, north-facing, was visible, but the Monitor Bowls otherwise appeared intact. Only one whumpf was heard on the ridge by the guy in front (I didn't hear it). No cracking was observed. Time, and people touring this area this week may have whumpfed the commonly traveled areas into submission. There was well-developed surface hoar in shady areas and on the upper parts of the ridge. Skied the lower-angled east-facing ridge just south of Point 10009 a few hundred feet into the Park City side and dug a pit for the fun of it while my friends finished making their subalpine fir tea. There was no facet-crust sandwich above the depth hoar in this location, and I could not get my first (extended) column to fail with tapping. Pulling with the shovel created a Q3 shear within the settled snow, and a harder pull ripped out everything above the couple inches of depth hoar, Q2. I took this chunk and dropped it on another nonextended column, and that finally budged it. Pretty stable spot. The facets at the bottom varied in size up to about half a centimeter long, and were weak, but quite hard to trigger from the top of the snowpack, which here was less than 3 feet deep. South and west-facing were very crusted by the end of the warm day.
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TyeDyeTwins Observation

Postby TyeDyeTwins » Sun Dec 20, 2009 2:48 am

1st off...... I love the idea here........ the UAC tends to scare rather than inform and Bob Athey well, he is just Bob. ANYWAY here is our observation from yesturday. Skinned up Willow Fork on Friday and skied 2 laps on Wills Hill. Despite several groups tracking out the slope before us we heard/felt several collapses in the snowpack (6 total). Everyone avoided the 35 degree section (for good reasons) and we saw tons of large stress fractures on the 30 degree sections. Dug a snow pit at the base of the hill and it looks like Wills Hill had about 2-4 inches of sugary weak pre-existing snowpack (oh no!) at the base followed by 2 and a half feet of new storm snow and complete with large surface facets. Scary to say the least. Our guess, things are dangerous out there and we will see yet another avalanche cycle with the next storm (Tuesday).
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Postby Travis Atwood » Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:58 am

I'm a little late to the party, but I think this thread is a fantastic idea!
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Postby PellucidWombat » Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:05 pm

Since I've moved away from SLC, I really appreciate seeing threads like these on SP to get a better sense of the conditions in the area as I make climbing plans for each visit. Being so removed from the mountain weather, it's really difficult to get a feel for the season otherwise.

So please keep posting the updates! Plus, I suspect that for those of us who are more climbers than skiiers, it isn't redundant to have stuff listed on skiier sites also relayed here. Plus, I'd really appreciate a page where I can ask avalanche-related questions where I know the veterans and active backcounty folks are checking in from time to time.

I've liked the reports so far. Keep 'em coming! :)
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Postby Ed F » Sun Dec 20, 2009 11:51 pm

Glad that there's some interest here.

Took a long walk up Mill D North today to the top of Reynolds. Sun and fun...it was probably close to 40 degrees on the summit. The snowpack seems to be settling a bit, but conditions were mostly the same. Still plenty of cracking in the snowpack. Last night was a bit colder than the past few days, so the top was recrystallized in most places with some nice hoar feathers. Skied a conservative line in the main NE facing bowl on Reynolds. The snow was kind of punchy up top, but recrystallized fun down lower. Let's see what this next storm does for us.
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