Backcountry Advisory 

As of Wednesday, Feb. 4

We have had an active avalanche cycle in the past week. On Thursday, Jan 29 we had 21 cm of snow on the storm board with windward slopes becoming scoured and small pockets of windslab in sheltered lee terrain. By the following morning we had received 45 cm overnight and had 58 cm on the storm board. This snowfall was accompanied by strong winds with gusts of over 100 km/h in the alpine. Large slab avalanches ran naturally through the storm and continued to be easily propagated by explosives and ski cutting in the following 24 hours.

In the following days we saw trace amounts of snow with light winds and dropping temperatures which began to help the stabilization of the snowpack. There were many instances of human-triggered slab avalanches in the backcountry adjacent to the ski areas despite the tightening snowpack. Most reports were in steep, rocky lee or cross loaded terrain. Through this cool, calm period surface hoar up to 6 mm began to form and as of this writing has been covered by 8 cm of snow. The Jan. 15 rain-crust is now buried under up to 150 cm of snow and could be a factor if there is enough of a load on it.

We have seen the backcountry hazard rating go from high earlier in the week to moderate within a few days. Currently, as of Feb. 4, 2004, the hazard rating is MODERATE, but will likely increase to high with the storm forecast for Thursday/Friday.

Conditions may vary and can change rapidly. Check for the most current conditions before heading into the backcountry. Daily updates for the areas adjacent to Whistler/Blackcomb are available at 604-938-7676, or at www.whistler-blackcomb.com/weather where there also a link to the CAA public avalanche bulletin, or call 1-800-667-1105.

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