February Avalanche school

A few years ago it was decided to hold avalanche school, twice a winter, with the second course on President's Day weekend.

This year the weather cooperated, with both fresh snow for skiing and a couple of layers providing interest and some user friendly avalanches.

We're very close to receiving the average snow totals for the winter already, at least at the upper elevations.

The Wasatch Mountain Club lodge where the course takes place is getting buried in snow, not a bad thing.

Getting the morning avalanche forecast has great priority for some people with creative efforts made, inside the lodge to receive the forecast on the radio. Both the old timers and some future avi specialists have interest. I personally don't care except for a mountain weather report.

Once again beacon drills and rescue day are without photos.Too damn busy running around. The storm beginning the first day remained in full swing, intensifying and making standing around in snow pits unpleasant. We still got five pits in on three aspects, looked at a slide triggered the day before and practiced ski cuts on the exit.

Got a couple of pockets to run on the layering we'd found in the pits, allowing confirmation of the snow pit theories developed.

Sunday night is a pot lick dinner and this time it was deluxe. Could have gone bulimic. There's a couple of lectures after dinner, done well to prevent napping. After the lectures stepping outside indicated a near full moon, so we returned to the hill above for a midnight ski. Face shot powder without risk because the control work was already complete.

The last day is putting it all together, with route finding and safe travel.

A couple of route options are given at the start. This time we had another group on our butts and changed the route to escape down the Stupid chute. A short climb allows another ski. Before skiing we spotted a photo shoot about to take place, so we stopped for a lunch break to watch and were not disappointed.

A close look reveals a skier in the air mid photo viewer's left after hucking the cliff.

Hell of a bomb crater on the landing, but the guy was up and down the hill hucking successfully without discernable injury. Impressive as hell.

After watching the huck, concerns for slides on the Figure 8 Hill were minimal. There was almost as much excitement at the bottom though, for those un used to good powder skiing.

We climbed out to Twin Lakes pass, viewing numerous pockety slides, from during the storm, cutting an up track between a couple to reach the pass.

From the pass we watched the incredible line going across the Devil's Castle traverse, just opened at Alta. Musta been several hundred skiers on it. We were happy to be where we were. Traversed around on the snow cat skier track to the top of the East bowl of Silver Fork, descending that also.

My group and our tracks in the bowl, plus a few from miscellaneous skiers in the area.

A couple of close ups of my group on the exit.




We were only a half hour late, not the latest group and back in time for snacking on what was left of the pot luck before the final exam problem, cleaning out the lodge and headed back into the valley.

I had fun but I'm sure glad that's over for another year and I can just go ski till summer.

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