The weather gods must have read the Angry Half Inch posting, as they retaliated with a magnificent storm over the past week. It was a classic rager from the Pacific Northwest which finally made it through the Idaho high pressure road block (can’t that state be moved?) and delivered a good 2-4′ base. It took place during the Sundance Film Festival and the local newspaper reported 180 stuck cars during the event. The storm included some very high winds, and why not – it you are going to have a ton of new snow on top of a fragile base of depth hoar, you might as well ice the cake with some serious wind loading.
Avalanche-wise, it is not great, but I’m glad it came in as a big hammer instead of a bunch of little storms which would only delay the inevitable avalanche cycle. From what I’ve seen in the Wasatch backcountry, a lot of the big slopes naturally avalanched during the storm and are now starting over. That said, I doubt some of the major north-facing lines will ever be very safe to ski this year. Oh well. We had a dangerous year in 2008/09 and it was fun to work out a bunch of safe, low angle tours and I’m sure those will be getting some skin tracks this season as well.
After a big storm like this, a lot of times the backcountry isn’t that great as you have to find a slope that is steep enough to ski down, yet not steep enough to slide, which limits your options to about a 5-degree window. This storm however deposited thick, supportable powder and there is plenty of GFP (Ghey Flat Powder) to be had. Big slopes that haven’t ripped yet are still an obvious concern, but an even bigger issue are the thousands of innocuous house-sized pockets that are big enough to bury you, especially in terrain traps like creek beds.
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Category: current conditions