Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

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EJBean

 
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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by EJBean » Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:32 am

TyeDyeTwins, your picture of the avalanche tracks is from the north (looking south), right? Here's a picture of the same scene taken from the east, near Silver Lake Flats on 12/28. I thought it might be avalanche debris, but wasn't sure - thanks for clearing it up. It looks like this might be the result of several avalanches.
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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by WhitePine » Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:42 am

Lots of surface hoar and facets out there. Looks like its going to be a little crazy for the next little while.

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by marauders » Tue Jan 11, 2011 12:12 am

Observation Jan. 10th
Very little snow accumulation in the Cascade area. Surface hoar prevelant on W, N, and E. Moderate sun crust on S. Skiing on N aspects was phenomenal. Moderate sluffing on steep N facing, but manageable. The south wasatch has stunning coverage for this time of year.

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by jackstraw0083 » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:07 pm

Bear River Mountains Observation, Steam Mill Peak, January 8-10

Spent the weekend at the Steam Mill yurt, in Hell's Kitchen Canyon, at the base of Steam Mill Peak. Skied the northeast bowl off of Steam Mill Peak's summit, a chute on the east face of Point 9,061 (north of Steam Mill, on the same ridgeline), and a chute on the southeast face of Point 8,761 (north of Point 9,061, on the same ridgeline as Steam Mill). The slope angles of these lines ranged between approximately 38-42 degrees.

Snow conditions were very stable on all of the lines that we skied. We dropped a refrigerator-sized cornice onto the southeast face of Point 8,761 without any effect, and we dropped a car-sized cornice on the northeast bowl of Steam Mill Peak without any effect. Points 9,061 and 8,761 are very exposed, but we did not see any evidence of wind loading on either of the peaks. Sluffing occurred when skiing both chutes, but it was manageable.

There was great snow on all of the lines that we skied! There was a crust on the sun-exposed southern through western aspects, but the northern through southeastern aspects still held fantastic, deep powder, even in areas exposed to the sun. We found prevalent surface hoar in sheltered areas on all aspects, most of which was buried by the 3 inches of snow that we received on the night of January 8th.

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by TyeDyeTwins » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:33 am

EJBean wrote:TyeDyeTwins, your picture of the avalanche tracks is from the north (looking south), right? Here's a picture of the same scene taken from the east, near Silver Lake Flats on 12/28. I thought it might be avalanche debris, but wasn't sure - thanks for clearing it up. It looks like this might be the result of several avalanches.



Both the CENTER and lookers RIGHT gullies in The Three Temptations both had large avalanche walls. The lookers right (the last temptation) was fulll of avalanche debries. Overall it looked like at one time or another there was quite the avalanche cycle while I was Backcountry Skiing Lake Tahoe. Happy Trails EJBean

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Ed F

 
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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by Ed F » Wed Jan 12, 2011 3:20 pm

1/11: Summit Park Area: Skied NE facing terrain, which was a little scratchy, but still very nice. 4-5" of fresh on the lee side. S-facing terrain is dust on crust. The hoar layer is now buried underneath this new, low density snow, which was still struggling to form slab-like characteristics yesterday. I was able to get the new snow to slide on the hoar layer very easily on several test slopes on several aspects and angles.

Another thing on my mind is the snowpack rotting from the bottom up. I've got a ton of snow in my yard for this time of the year, and I noticed yesterday that the bottom of the snowpack around here is turning into Colorado-style sugar at the ground interface. I only think this is going to be an issue where the snowpack is less deep, such as some areas in BCC that didn't get the full taste of those November storms. We'll see.

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by Ed F » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:06 pm

1/13: Lambs Canyon. No red flags noted, but there was a significant amount of wet activity yesterday on sun-drenched slopes. Lots of rollerballs, etc., some small point releases. Skinned past this pit and skied the same area: http://utahavalanchecenter.org/obs_snow ... on_1122011. Nothing to add.

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by Ed F » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:14 pm

This is a great analysis of the potential hoar weak layer in the future 'pack:

Part 1: http://utahavalanchecenter.org/analysis ... 1_01112011
Part 2: http://utahavalanchecenter.org/analysis ... 2_01132011

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by Ed F » Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:56 pm

1/15: Spruces > Reynolds > West Desolation > Spruces

West Desolation was pretty cross-loaded with wind, making turning conditions less than stellar. Snow was better in lower protected areas, but was getting pretty damp by 2pm. Low, insulating clouds all day greenhoused the snowpack, making it even damper by the pm. I was able to get the new snow layer to crack and move quite easily on top of the buried hoar layer from Jan 8, but there isn't enough of a slab yet to worry about. I was able to get this layer moving on angles much closer to 30 than 40.

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by marauders » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:37 pm

Last week was a big one for me. I've had a winter ascent of Cascade on my list for years. Finally, we climbed and skied the beast! This was last week prior to the rain event, so my observations from that tour are now useless, but how about some nice pics anyway! Feels so good to get a big tour ticked off the wish list!

After failing on a winter ascent of Cascade two prior times (via different routes) I think I found the most efficient and relatively safe route on this successful trip. I'll post a route on SP soon.

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by Ed F » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:52 pm

Nice work on Cascade, guys. Looks like fun.

1/20: Dawn-patrolled Emma Ridge above Alta, skied south-facing. That rain crust is stout! Great skiing on lower-angled slopes, anything around 35ish was really sluffy and "scrapy." New snow was fast and fun. It was easy to tell that the winds hammered the hell out of higher elevation stuff: big cornices, interesting wind effects, etc. The sun was already cooking south facing stuff by 10am, with noticeable wet snow indicators like rollerballs. More snow on the way...

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by Ed F » Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:40 pm

1/21: Skied protected trees in Beartrap, west-facing. Still some great snow despite settlement about a hundred feet or so off the ridgetops (above there was wind-scoured, exposing the rain crust slide-for-life). Sun-drenched slopes took both barrels from the sun today. I'm thinking about the water that percolated through the snowpack today lubricating the the interface between the new snow and the rain crust. South-facing snow was getting really manky and difficult to ski by the late pm. I found the rain crust to be stout and strong almost everywhere, except on ridgetops that got hammered by wind. Thermal inversion today, with temps at 32 near the bottom of BCC and up to 40 degrees up higher, adding to the damage to the snowpack where the sun was hitting it up higher.

This photo is taken from the ridge between Beartrap and Willow Forks. You can see the rain crust slide-for-life in the foreground. Ouch.
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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by Ed F » Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:54 pm

Here's a photo from 1/20 of the Glide Cracks in Cardiac:

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by TyeDyeTwins » Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:01 pm

Observation Jan 18 and 20 I have to admit that I have been skiing a lot this month and I have not been posting. These observations are from last week and conditions have likely changed.

January 18th Considering the avalanche danger was considerable on Monday and anywhere low was raining, and anywhere up high was windy, Ron and I went to ski Rocky Point starting from Brighton Ski Resort. In the parking lot the wind was blowing so hard that my shoes blew away, looking like a modern tumble weed. While skinning up to Catherines Pass we noted that there about 3 inches of grauple with a strong rain crust underneath. Once at Dog Lake we saw a recent avalanche on the East Face of Mount Millicent. The avalanche crown was about 3-5 inches deep and I would rate the avalanche as class 1 (enough to drag you over a cliff or into a tree). Around the steep banks of each lake was similar activity. Skied the steep Dog Leg Chute on Rocky Point and continued down, skiing the steep Pioneer East face along the way back to the car.....all with no avalanche activity. No depth hoar was found on our outing thanks to a once a winter, January rain storm. Overall avalanche conditions were pockets of Moderate at most and low everywhere else. Had there been 2 to 3 feet of new snow, avalanche conditions would have been Considerable to High.

January 20th Did the Dawn Patrol thing at Alta on Thursday morning and man was getting up there at 6am well worth it. Skinned up Flagstaff in the early moring light with about 10 others (Did I see you up there ED F?). Skied the 3 o clock slide path around 8am first tracks. The 1st couple of turns were icy but then the 8 to 11 inches of soft Utah powder started to move into face shot catagory. At a crossloaded rollover I got a small sluff to run on the ice. While driving back down the canyon I saw extensive sluffing on Superior's south facing Black Knob that appeared to be skier triggered.

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Re: Utah Avalanche Conditions 2010-11

by TyeDyeTwins » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:58 pm

Observation Jan 21st- Oquirrh Range (Sharp Mountain)
Started the day in Ophir Canyon. The road was snow covered and plowed only about half way, just short of Serviceberry Canyon. After just a few minutes of skinning Ron and I came up on the entrance to Serviceberry Canyon. Looking at Sharp Mountain we decided to avoid the famous river crossings of Ophir Canyon and started our skin up Serviceberry Canyon. At the entrance there was only 2-5 inches of snowpack total.....however the strong rain crust made it seem like several feet. As we increased our elevation the snowpack depth increased. Once we reached the base of Sharp Mountain we observed some old crown lines on the NE facing Chandler Peak Chutes. Insted of climbing the normal route to Chandlers Pass we opted for following the road to the East Ridge. While bootpacking up the wind damaged ridge I dug a quick snowpit. On this East Facing 37 degree slope I found 2 inches of wind packed powder on top of a thick rain crust. Below the rain crust there was about a foot of softer snow cone type snow. Below this snow cone snow was a 2nd crust, with some strong basil facets between this lower crust and the ground. Total depth of the snowpack was 1.5 feet on the ridge.
Skiing the south facing slopes of Sharp Mountain was a blast. The wind affected powder got better as we skied further down Serviceberry Canyon. After making over 500 turns we got down to the car just before sunset. To complete the day we saw a Bald Eagle while getting the car packed up. In my opinion the snowpack structure was not concerning and the avalanche danger in the southern Oquirrhs is LOW with a check mark. However, IF (and this is a mighty big IF here) we get 3-4 feet of new wet snow there is a chance that if that amount avalanched into a gully, the weight could be enough to break into the snowcone layering, causing a full depth, dangerous avalanche.
The 1st picture is of Sharp Mountain from the entrance of Serviceberry Canyon
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Ron splitboarding Sharp Mountain
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Ron splitboarding Sharp Mountain
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Ron splitboarding Sharp Mountain
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A Bald Eagle flying over Ophir Canyon
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A beautiful sunset over Rush Lake and the Stansburry Range
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Last edited by TyeDyeTwins on Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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