I skied yesterday.
It was nice to get the ski legs under me on some groomers and knee deep fluff at Sundance Resort. But the reality of avalanches was always in the back of my mind, and at times, front and center with a large cat-triggered failure right down the heart of Bishop’s Bowl.
The conditions across the Wasatch Front are improving with time, but are still highly volatile. The heavy, wet snow that fell during the weekend storm accrued on top of old, faceted snow that in some cases, had been rotting away since November. The avalanche scenario is text book: weak, persistent layers being overloaded by heavy new snow causing collapses, cracking and failures. Even on normally mellow, safe slopes, like Bishop’s Bowl. The Sundance Ski Patrol was quoted as never seeing that slope fail so catastrophically.
In other words, it is a good time to work your legs inside the ropes, or on low angled backcountry terrain. If you are traveling in the backcountry, put your avalanche goggles on and watch for the obvious signs: whoomping, cracking, and of course other avalanches. As Bruce Tremper likes to say, “the best sign of avalanches is avalanches.”
The Level 1 Avalanche course this weekend ought to be most informative.