Early Avalanche Season Summary

by Nikki Champion (Forecaster, Utah Avalanche Center)

Uintahs Observation by Mark Staples on 12/1/19

In mid-September, we got our first dusting of snow in the Central Wasatch. On Sept 20th, we got about 3 inches of snow with .4 inches of water, followed by another 3 inches of snow and .85 inches of water. Following that we didn’t get much until mid-October. Between October 17th and October 21st, we got another 20 inches of snow. Following this initial pulse,  a week of clear weather followed where temperature crusts on the northern aspects formed, and most of the snow on sunny aspects melted.
At the end of October, we got one more fall storm, bringing an additional 18 inches. After that, we were high and dry for most of November. The dry spell cleared most of the snow off the southern aspects, but what was sheltered on upper elevation north-facing slopes was a mixture of temperature crusts, buried surface hoar, and weak facets. This left a very weak, faceted snowpack to be the building blocks for the rest of the season. 

Then Came the Thanksgiving Storm!

Before Monday, November 25th, November was on track to be the driest on record (since 1945) at the Alta Guard station. November totals at Alta Guard from Mark Saurer at UDOT are 58 inches of snow (4.53 inches SWE/Snow Water Equivalent). Total snowfall for this season at Alta Guard is 88 inches (7.32 inches SWE). 1976 had the driest November of 13.6 of snow. 

Total snow since Monday, November 25th is:

  • Central Wasatch Mountains: 50-70″ snow (3.5 – 4.34″ water)
  • Park City Ridgeline: 30-40″ snow (2.5 – 3.0″ water)
  • Ogden Mountains: 40-50″ snow (4.0 – 4.8″ water)
  • Provo Mountains: 24-33″ snow (1.6 – 2.1″ water)
  • Uinta Mountains: 25-35″ snow (2.0+” water)

Moving into the coming weeks the snowpack will slowly gain strength,  but mid and upper elevation north-facing slopes are still suspect.  Avalanche activity in the first week demonstrates that dangerous avalanche conditions still exist on any slope that had snow before the Thanksgiving storm. We now have a 2-3 foot slab of strong snow sitting on top of a foot of weak facets at the ground. These lingering facets can be found above 8000’ on aspects facing NW, N, NE, E. It is a slow healing process, and the snowpack needs time to adjust.

Kid’s Day

by Ben Hancock

December 7th from 10:00A.M. to 1:00P.M. at Soldier Hollow
This year’s Kids Day is going to be even better than last year. Last year we had so much fun, learning about safety, fun activities, and avalanche safety. We are going to learn the same things this year, but we have some new tools and sponsors to help us. Like last year, we are still focusing on education, safety, and fun. We will have a special guest Santa will be coming to talk with the kids. We will have more crafts, games and lots of snowmobiles. The candy canon will also be back with lots of prizes.
Who should come to this event? Everyone! Your family doesn’t need to be an avid snowmobilers to come. Anyone wanting to recreate outside in the winter should come and learn how to be comfortable and safe in the wonderful outdoors.
See you at Kids Day!

Salt Lake Valley Snowmobile Club December 2019 Update

by Bob Stockwell

The Salt Lake Valley Snowmobile Club ride and events schedule for the coming year kicks off in January, with the club’s free avalanche safety training class on Jan. 4. This training is FREE to current club members and will be a full day of classroom instruction, outdoor practice, and fieldwork scenarios with riding involved.  You must RSVP for this class session, and registration is limited to the first 24 who respond.  The location will be confirmed in the coming weeks, and likely will be out of the Mirror Lake Highway trailhead.  Please send your RSVP via email to bob.stockwell@live.com by Dec. 15, 2019.

JANUARY

1/4 – SLVSC Avalanche Training Class, 9 am (RSVP required)

1/11 – Mirror Lake Highway/Soapstone Trailhead

1/25 – Utah Snowmobile Association “Rally in Strawberry Valley”

FEBRUARY

2/7-2/8 – Annual Away Ride: Alpine, Wyoming

2/8 – Local Ride: Nobletts Trailhead (for those not going on annual trip)

2/22 – Mirror Lake Highway/Soapstone Trailhead

MARCH

3/7 – Family Ride: Location TBC

3/21 – Mirror Lake Highway/Soapstone Trailhead

APRIL

4/4 – Beaver Mountain Hillclimbs (volunteer opportunity)

4/11 – Where there’s snow

For all club rides, we do equipment check at 8:30 am, leave the trailhead at 9 am, unless otherwise noted.

Membership Renewals

If you haven’t renewed your membership for the 2020 season, please visit the new registration and payment portal through the Utah Snowmobile Association website: https://form.jotform.com/92468847936174

Follow the latest club activities by joining the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/slvsnow

Getting Your Sled Ready for the Season

Are you excited about the snow coming down? Already been out for a ride, but didn’t take time to get your sled ready for the season? Now is a good time to go through your sled and make sure you have it ready for the winter. Here is a list of things to check on your sled:

  • Check your belt for wear and replace the belt.
  • Grease and inspect your chassis by finding all the grease zerks on the suspension and pump in snowmobile grease (low-temperature grease from your dealer.)
  • Check your hyfaxs to see if they need replacing.
  • Clean power valves on sleds that need it.
  • Change brake, Diamond Drive, coolant, other fluids as directed by your user manual.
  • Fill with 2-stroke oil.
  • Add fuel system cleaner or drain the tank replacing with fresh fuel.
  • Check track adjustments according to your owner’s manual.
  • Check your service manual for any other required maintenance.
  • Run the sled to operating temperature before you go out to ride.
  • Prepare your trailer by checking lights, grease bearings, and checking tires.

If you have any questions about maintenance, contact your local dealer. Here is a video from Polaris with some suggestions on things to check.

Egan Basin Warming Hut

by Kennon Jeppson (President Top of Utah Snowmobile Club)

Egan Basin Warming Hut

Earlier this season, Egan Basin warming hut was going to be closed for the winter, due to vandalism and people not cleaning up after themselves. (Clean up your beer cans!) The actions of a few almost ruined a good thing for everyone. Thanks to Kory argyle that went to bat for everybody, this has been changed. Kory is the outgoing president of the Franklin County Highmarkers out of Preston Idaho.

We have worked out a deal with the US Forest Service to keep Egan Basin open for the next season! This is contingent on a few things:

  1. We pick up after ourselves and others who litter.
  2. We keep an eye out for vandalism and report it to the Forest Service.
  3. We as joint clubs help to repair, paint, and re-floor any wear and tear caused by snowmobilers.
  4. We as clubs will be responsible to chop firewood for the hut. Wood will be provided, but an ax will not be left at the site due to vandalism caused by the ax last year. So we need to get a schedule to make sure this is done.
  5. Remember this building is a rental unit and is provided as a courtesy, none of your registration or taxes go to the maintenance of this or any other provided properties. This is a privilege, not a right. This can and will be taken away!!

Please remember to play nice with the Forest Service they really are a great group of guys who enjoy snowmobiling as much as we do! Help us keep this site open!!

Any questions that need answering please contact Kenon Jepson, and I can be the point of contact in this matter.