backcountry advice 

BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE ADVISORY As of Wednesday, March 22 We have received 13 cm. of new snow since Saturday morning. Mountaintop winds out of the SE gusted consistently to 85 km/h during most of the day Saturday. As the storm went through the area mid afternoon, the winds shifted to the SW and began to abate, with a south-westerly flow continuing throughout the night. The SE winds created a stiff slab that is overlain by the softer snow that fell after the winds switched to the SW. and abated. Since then, the surface layers of snow have continued to settle and gain strength. In the upper 60 cm. of the snow-pack you can expect to find several softer layers of snow overlain by pencil resistance slabs. These layers formed during the storm cycles that we encountered during the previous week. Although they appear to have continued to settle and tighten in, they may still be reactive to the weight of a skier or boarder on some isolated slopes. There is also a layer of well-preserved snowflakes that are resting on a weak temperature crust, which formed last Tuesday. A cornice fall, a small surface slab in motion, or simply the effects of solar radiation on the surface layers — all have the potential to trigger a deeper release on some slopes. At tree-line elevations, the surface hoar is now buried well below the surface. We are still hearing of very isolated activity on this layer. Be prepared for the anomalous deeper release that may occur on any of these layers. Cornices have continued to grow and are becoming very ripe. Stay well back. A cornice fall might have the potential to turn you into a part of the landscape! As of Wednesday a.m. March 22nd, an additional 20 cm. of snow has fallen on top of the aforementioned layers of snow. Based on the forecast for continued snowfall this morning, and increasing mountaintop winds, the avalanche danger in the backcountry adjoining the Whistler/Blackcomb ski areas is rated as High. With the forecast for sunny periods on Thursday, the avalanche danger may further increase. Avalanches have claimed the lives of two men in BC. in two separate incidents this week. Be careful out there. What might normally be considered to be a relatively small avalanche could have disastrous consequences in some of the more exposed terrain which is seeing more and more use out there these days! There is a disturbing trend where more and more backcountry enthusiasts are heading out into some very exposed terrain almost immediately after a storm-cycle has passed. Please, give it a chance to heal out there! As always, conditions may vary and can change rapidly. Call the CAA Public Bulletin @ 1-800-667-1105 for more info, or locally call 938-7676.

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