A tremendous overnight storm slammed into Utah early this morning, Sunday, Dec. 13. The wet Pacific system brought 15 to 20 inches to the Cottonwood canyons by opening time, leaving mountain crews scrambling to ready runs and lifts. [R10R, Alta] got skiers up riding by 10:45 a.m. [R404R, Snowbird] opened with Chickadee only followed by three runs off Gadzoom, Wilbere and Regulator only from the Tram.

[R413R, Solitude Resort] reports that it will need another 3 to 5 feet to open the upper black diamond terrain but that hasn't kept away powder-starved skiers and riders.

If you're skiing inbounds this week remember to bring your avalanche beacon. There's more than 17 inches of new snow this morning and it's extremely unstable. Forecasters are calling for another 12 to 20 inches before this storm blows out Monday afternoon, Dec. 14.

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort and the Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) have partnered to offer the first annual Freeride Avalanche Summit, Dec. 17-18. The two-day clinic targets advanced and expert skiers and riders who want practical and professional instruction on avalanche awareness, safety and rescue. Expected participants include members of the UAC and Colorado Avalanche Information Center; Snowbird Ski Patrol and Snow Safety; Jim Conway, lead guide for Teton Gravity Research; professional skiers Jeremy Nobis, Gordy Pfeiffer, Jenn Berg, and Brant Moles; and Wasatch Powderbird Guides.

"With the increase in backcountry and sidecountry traffic, it's more important than ever to offer tangible and affordable avalanche instruction to hard-charging skiers and riders," said UAC Forecaster and Freeride Avalanche Summit founder Craig Gordon. "This Summit brings together an awesome group of leading forecasters along with some of the best winter athletes in Utah."

The Freeride Avalanche Summit offers more than 20 hours of classroom and on-mountain instruction during the two-day session. Topics include snowpack analysis, terrain assessment, first aid techniques, emergency notification procedures, ski patrol briefings, and line selection sessions with professional athletes.

The Summit costs $150 and is limited to 40 participants; discounted lift tickets of $36 per day will also be offered to non-passholders for the on-mountain portion of the program. The clinic is for advanced and expert skiers and riders.

Solitude's Professional Ski Patrol and Snow Safety team will host their Avalanche Awareness Clinic, December 19-20. This two-day course is an introduction to the identification of avalanche hazards and the skills needed to safely travel in the backcountry. They'll focus on how to travel safely and responsibly outside resort boundaries. Learn how to identify avalanche terrain, analyze snow and weather factors and manage group dynamics. After an avalanche presentation on the morning of day one, the rest of day one and two will be spent in the backcountry putting these concepts into action.

More information: Snowbird Freeride Avalanche Summit, or call (801) 933-2147;Solitude Avalanche Awareness Clinic