As of Wednesday, March 10
This week has finally provided us with a hint of what March in our area is supposed to be all about. Small amounts of light snow, interspersed with periods of sunshine, and visibility that allows for a jaunt above the treeline.
The new snow layers have settled rapidly, particularly on south-facing aspects where the springtime melt freeze cycle is starting to have an effect on the surface. We have not been seeing any significant slab activity in the storm snow. There have however been reports of some isolated deep releases that were possibly triggered by cornice fall.
The huge cornices that are in evidence along most lee ridge lines are probably the most worrisome lurking danger in the backcountry at this time. A dropping vehicle-sized chunk will totally overstress the underlying slope, and any snow stability rating will become invalid. The resulting avalanche could run full path, and could even take out a portion of the "safe" forested terrain. Give yourself a good margin of error if you are travelling beneath a cornice line, and remember that a failure is more likely to occur as the day warms up. Stay well back from the edge if you have decided to take the high line. The dropping cornices have been pulling back onto the flats, and are often taking rock and dirt with them.
Watch out for the increasing numbers of assorted "holes" that have opened up due to the large amounts of snowfall that we have seen this year. Glide cracks, openings where the snow meets a cliff, treewells and creeks — they all have the potential to swallow up a lone skier or boarder. If no one has witnessed your disappearance, your chances for survival are not very good.
As of March 10, the backcountry avalanche danger is rated as MODERATE. This will likely change with the forecast storm late in the week. Call for the most current information before you head out.