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Old 12-09-2011, 09:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Wasatch riders whats this weather doing to the snowpack?

So we haven't had shit for snow for almost 3 weeks now and it's gonna be until late next week before we have a chance for any significant accumulations.

I know from a safety perspective the lack of snow is keeping inexperienced people at the resorts which I guess is good but is this weather helping stabilize the snow pack or making it worse?
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Old 12-09-2011, 10:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Appears the weather has made the snow pack rotten. You can get some really dang good turns right now since it has recrystallized, but once it snows watch out is the best way to put it. I am thinking of getting out early tomorrow before I head to Brighton to dig around and see what the snowpack is doing. From my reports it is good skiing now but terrible depth hoars in a shallow snowpack.
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Old 12-09-2011, 10:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I am pretty sure you guys are experiencing a pretty mean temperature gradient. Especially during that cold snap. Which means facets were growing like crazy in that shallow snow pack.

That layer is going to have to get buried pretty deep before it's not much of an issue for bc riders. Which in Utah, I would expect to happen by some time in February. The deep slab instability will probably never go away though. I also know Wasatch riders aren't as used to this danger as say we are in Colorado. Last time I saw a scenario like this I think Utah led or nearly led the US in avalanche fatalities that year. You're probably going to want to stay off that steep, rad, terrain for a good while this season, focusing on more heavily tree'd slopes and lower angle stuff in the open areas. Still lot's of fun things to do, but it still sucks when you're looking at all the amazing lines out there. Hopefully it snows like hell and you get 400" before January is out, burying that stuff deep.
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Old 12-09-2011, 10:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Another thing, which I've noticed around here, and I am not sure if it's much of a problem for the Wasatch is near surface faceting. I noticed this about 10 centimeters down from the surface of the snow pack on Jones pass. I am thinking it's fairly unusual for Utah, but it might be something to be aware of.

If you want to get your geek on, here is an article on the phenomenon.
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Old 12-09-2011, 11:15 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Ugg yea I was afraid the large temp gradients long exposed surface were actually making things worse than better, oh well guess we just have to be on our toes this winter and play it safe :-(
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Old 12-09-2011, 12:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you learn how to handle yourself, there will still be plenty of fun, rad things to do in the backcountry. Every year is a bit different. You do get deeper snow packs there, so once that layer get buried more than four feet deep, it shouldn't be as much of a concern. Of course the other layers could be.

I believe the number that a skier or snowboarder effects the snow pack is roughly three feet deep. I generally dig my snow pits down to around 5 feet deep max. Of course that doesn't negate deep slap instabilities, which are scary, and are a lot harder to figure out. If you hit a deep slab instability, you're messing with a stone cold killer.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
If you learn how to handle yourself, there will still be plenty of fun, rad things to do in the backcountry. Every year is a bit different. You do get deeper snow packs there, so once that layer get buried more than four feet deep, it shouldn't be as much of a concern. Of course the other layers could be.

I believe the number that a skier or snowboarder effects the snow pack is roughly three feet deep. I generally dig my snow pits down to around 5 feet deep max. Of course that doesn't negate deep slap instabilities, which are scary, and are a lot harder to figure out. If you hit a deep slab instability, you're messing with a stone cold killer.
For sure the more I learn the more humble I get and Snowvols has graciously volunteerd to be my avalanche/backcountry mentor so I'm very grateful for his guidence and direction
Maybe I'll feel mor comfortable once I get through my class but I've had to kinda check myself from venturing alone when the opportunity has presented itself, oh well lots of winter left and the available snowpack sucks anyways, just hard when there's soooooo much backcountry right on my doorstep and so easily accessible.
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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From what I can tell, Logan is on top of his game. You're in good hands.
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Old 12-10-2011, 12:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well now we have another issue. I went for a dawn tour this morning to scope a couple new lines I want to bag now, but didn't have time since the guy I went with had prior obligations. Due to the clear nights there is a nasty surface whore err I mean hoar growing. It was pretty cool seeing it stuck to the trees from the wind but it is pretty prevalent in the bowl we went to.

Here is Reynolds and looks like a super fun line. The bowl was pretty wind affected and it has blown alot of the snow off, but the chute between the trees looked money. It would have just taken an hour skin to the top I think so just not enough time.





We really need some snow in a bad sort of way. Under 9K on SE to SW facing slopes is pretty bare now. It was a blistery 5 degrees on the skin track. I am looking forward to hitting Reynolds with more snow for sure. We got some really good turns though in the trees on the recrystallized snow. I forgot how cool it sounds when you ride on the surface hoar.
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Old 12-10-2011, 01:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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A fortunate (or unfortunate I suppose) thing about surface hoar is that it only develops in protected areas, so below tree line. Not usually a worry in the alpine as the winds knock that shit down before it really forms.
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