The Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop


Saturday; November 06, 2010; 12:30p to 5:30p
The Depot (400 West South Temple, in Gateway Mall)
$25 admission; click here for registration

This workshop is modeled after the Internation Snow Science Workshop, The Utah Snow and Avalanche Workshop (USAW) provides a venue for experienced skiers, sledders, and avalanche professionals to get together, along with those new to the game, to take a closer look at the underbelly of the avalanche dragon. Join us to geek out on snow science, learn from the pros and each other and reconstruct a few close calls from last season to discuss what can be learned from those experiences.

The Workshop outline is as follows:

12:30-13:00 Registration

13:00-13:05 Welcome/Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center

13:05-13:20 ISSW Update-Karl Birkeland

This presentation will touch briefly on some of the papers presented at the 2010 ISSW and the take-home message from that research.

13:25-13:45 Monitoring Diurnal Near-Surface Faceting-Brett Kobernik

Near-surface faceting produces weak snow grains at or near the snow surface and once buried has the potential to form weak layers in the snowpack structure. To gain insight into the formation of near-surface faceting, iButtons (watch battery sized self contained temperature dataloggers) were employed to monitor the snowpack temperature profile. A primary goal for this study is to provide forecasters with an easy and practical method for collecting snow temperature profiles which may lead to a more intimate knowledge of the snow structure and near-surface faceting in their region.

13:50-14:10 Patterns of Spatial Variability in Buried Surface Hoar Instability-Tyson Bradley

A look at the Wasatch surface hoar Avalanche Cycle in 2010, and similarities to the Valdez cycle of Y2K. A classic example will illustrate the counter-intuitive nature of this weakness, and hopefully help ski touring parties manage such instability in the future.

14:15-14:35 A Ginormous Close Call on Canada’s Boulder Mountain and its implications for local “big iron” snowmobile events-Bruce Tremper and Craig Gordon

The avalanche occurred on the afternoon of Saturday, March 13, 2010. It was associated with an informal and unsanctioned snowmobiling event that includes highmarking as part of the activities. Reports indicate that as many as 200 people attended the event, many of whom were observing from the track and/or runout zone of the avalanche path. The only reason this accident has not gone down in the history books as Canada’s worst avalanche accident is luck, coupled with the quick initial response. Without either, the outcome of this incident would have been much worse.

14:40-15:00 Break

15:00-15:20 Alexander Basin Avalanche Accident-Matt Knotts, Clay Trautner, John Woeste

A review of the Alexander Basin avalanche accident on February 7, 2010 as told by survivors.

15:25-15:45 We are family… Wasatch winter warriors-Brandon Dodge

A community approach to information sharing, avalanche reporting, backcountry rescue and rescuer safety. With all the information and resources available, how do we use them to best serve our winter recreating family. Whether you’re a backcountry “bark eater” or a “salty old patroller” we all have a role to play.

15:50-16:20 Some tales from the early days–Liam FitzGerald

The amount of terrain accessible from the Tram and chairlifts, most of it subject to avalanche activity, and a limited amount of skier compaction created unique challenges to Snowbird Patrol and Snow Safety
personnel during the first few years of operation. Working at any new ski area is exciting but a place like Snowbird, made it quite an adventure.

16:30-17:30 Social at The Blue Goose located in The Depot