After receiving over 40 inches of new snow in the core of the Wasatch Range, the skiing and snowboarding conditions in Utah have been excellent. We have just experienced the best days of the year so far, and we were all once again reminded how wonderful it is to ski powder in Utah. Since the weather conditions were not conducive to flying helicopters, our Head Guide, Justin Lozier, joined his partner and Assistant Guide, Sean Zimmerman-Wall, and the rest of the Snowbird Snow Safety team to run some avalanche control routes at Snowbird before opening the resort to the public. Due to the closure of the Little Cottonwood Road for avalanche danger, the entire team spent the night up in the canyon, watching the snow dump from the heavens. Justin had the privilege of riding up the early morning tram with the Snowbird Ski Patrol just before dawn. After the route plan was delivered, the team took to the slopes and experienced one of the greatest mornings of skiing in recent memory. Smooth, untouched slopes covered in blankets of low-density powder were all around, and the sound of hand charges and artillery filled the air.
Along with this blessing of new snow came heightened avalanche hazard across the entire state. Over 70 different avalanches have been reported to the Utah Avalanche Center since the onset of the storm on February 29. Widespread natural avalanches occurred during the storm, as strong winds transported snow, loading the eastern leeward slopes. Avalanche hazard has been high across the Wasatch Range and has only continued to rise with the recent rapid warming after the storm. Temperatures are looking to cool down with the entrance of another small storm tomorrow. We will see how things play out with the snow and avalanche hazard. In the meantime, be smart and stay safe out there.