Stable snowpack, low avalanche danger create great backcountry skiing conditions

Jan 20, 2023, 10:09 PM | Updated: Jan 21, 2023, 2:54 pm

LOGAN, Utah — Avalanche conditions across the state are in the low category below 8,000 feet in elevation. There are no high or extreme warnings anywhere in the state.

One avalanche forecaster who covers the Logan area said it’s a change from what we’ve seen recently.

 It’s tough to imagine getting paid to go backcountry skiing all the time. The work Toby Weed does means others can also enjoy skiing in the backcountry safely.

 “I started in 2003,” Weed said. “I think it is important that people understand the risks with avalanches.”

He’s a forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center in the Logan area and knows the Northern Utah mountains about as well as the wildlife.

That also means he knows how dangerous conditions can get. With as much snow as Utah has received this season, Weed has been busy hitting as many slopes as possible to see how safe or unsafe conditions are.

“Right now, it’s a great thing to be able to do because the snow is just fantastic,” he said.

Avalanche conditions are finally low in the Logan area after weeks of being high.

“We had pretty unsafe conditions, especially in the lower elevations, for a while until it rained,” said Weed. “That made it really unstable for a little while until that froze up and then it became really solid.”

Those conditions formed a deep and stable snowpack.

It is solid enough for the Avalanche Center to feel comfortable moving the previous dangerous avalanche warning to low.

Even still, Weed said you have to be careful out there.

Avalanche nearly captures 3 Utah skiers; forecasters urge care

“We always say low danger doesn’t mean no danger, and there’s still certainly potential out there for avalanches, especially in areas that are kind of shallow,” he said. “Bring a shovel, beacon, and probe. And have a buddy with you who knows how to save you.”

It’s been a while since we’ve had a true Utah winter.

Conditions this weekend for backcountry skies should be a great reminder.

“We do have the greatest snow on Earth,” said Weed.

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Stable snowpack, low avalanche danger create great backcountry skiing conditions