2 Avalanches YESTERDAY @ Alta, Utah

Avalanches marked with red arrows.  image:  Utah Avalanche Center

Avalanches marked with red arrows.  photo from Oct. 29th, 2013.  image: Utah Avalanche Center

Avalanche season has officially begun in Utah.  Alta, Utah experienced 2 natural avalanches yesterday October 29th, 2013 on the Baldy Shoulder.  It’s never too early in the season to start thinking about avalanches.

We’ll never forget Jamie Pierre’s passing in an avalanche at Snowbird, UT on November 13th, 2011.  We all need to learn from these early season avalanches.  Lets all put our brains in avalanche mode starting now.

View Larger Map.  Red “A”  bulb marks avalanche locations at Alta, UT.

We’ll let the Utah Avalanche Center share the details of the 2 avalanches at Alta, UT yesterday:

“Two slides are visible from the road through the Town of Alta on Baldy shoulder. One slide is in “the armpit,” and the other in “Bounous’ Chute.” Dimensions are tough to estimate from the road but they look like they’re each ~60 wide, and most likely failed on the extremely weak, 2-3mm facets present on high north prior to yesterday’s graupel and last night’s medium density snow. The slides are likely ~10 inches deep, given a storm total of ten inches at the nearby collins study plot. From the road, it is not possible to tell whether there are any tracks into, out of, or anywhere near the slides, although there are people skiing around at Alta today.”

Avalanches marked with red arrows.  image: Utah Avalanche Center

Avalanches marked with red arrows.  photo from Oct. 29th, 2013.  image: Utah Avalanche Center


Forecaster Note:

While the weak layer of these slides cannot be determined with 100% accuracy by viewing them from a distance, a faceted weak layer is a distinct possibility.  Below is a photo from Sunday’s Observation which shows that the starting zones of these avalanches had snow cover prior to the storm.  Being that almost all of the snow on the northerly aspects that I’ve looked at is faceted, it is quite likely that these failed on a faceted weak layer.  This is very pertinent information given our current situation and we will work on confirming this.

Updated 10-29-2013 – 5pm

Patroller Cawley and I went up and confirmed faceted snow as the weak layer and the avalanches were natural.” – Utah Avalanche Center


– Location:  Mt. Baldy shoulder

– Elevation:  10,100′

– Aspect:  North

– Trigger:  Natural

– Weak Layer:  Facets

– Avalanche Problem:  Persistent Slab

– Depth:  10″

– Vertical:  300′

Comment(s): 9

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