Backcountry advisory 

As of Wednesday, Jan. 24

The 40 cm of new snow that fell during the week combined with a few sunny days to make for some excellent backcountry outings. In the terrain adjacent to Whistler and Blackcomb, some of the steeper lines have been tested with no adverse consequences.

Initially after the snowfall, the storm snow was very reactive, but with time and cooler snow temperatures, the surface slab has tightened in. You may still find isolated pockets of storm and wind-transported snow that want to move with ski testing, but these are becoming rarer as the week goes on.

In the Whistler area there has been no activity observed on the November facets since the first week in January. This weakness has likely been bridged over in many areas, but caution should still be exercised in steep rocky terrain, particularly after a new snowfall. The facets and depth hoar are rounding, but we probably still haven’t seen the last of them. Remember that low hazard and good stability ratings still allow for an isolated large avalanche to occur.

The clear nights early in the week produced a layer of surface hoar that may still be intact in terrain that was below the inversion line and protected from the wind. Keep this in mind when the next load of snow arrives.

The forecast is indicating that by Sunday or Monday we may be into more of a zonal onshore flow pattern that will bring us our more typical winter storm cycles. The outlook for February is cooler and wetter than normal. Looking back on the stats, the last time Whistler Mountain had a less than 200 cm base by the end of January was in 1993/94. That season it snowed a whopping 425 cm. in February. Here’s hoping!

As of Jan. 24, the backcountry avalanche danger is rated as MODERATE . Loose or human triggered slabs are possible. Use caution in steeper terrain on certain aspects. Conditions may vary and can change rapidly. Check with the local ski patrols or the public bulletins for the most current information.

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