Backcountry Advisory 

As of Wednesday, Feb. 06

Strong Southeasterly winds hammered the landscape in the Alpine and the Treeline on Tuesday. The fierce winds resulted in extremely variable distribution of snow. Underlying surfaces varying from crusts to loose unconsolidated snow can be expected to provide easy shear planes for slab failure. Be wary of any hollow sounding slopes. Although they may initially support your weight this may not be the case once you enter the sweet spot and the slab fails. The bond with any underlying crusts should be suspect at best.

At the treeline and below treeline elevations we have been seeing avalanche activity on the layer of facets and surface hoar that is overlying the early January rain-crust. This crust lays approximately 60-100 cm below the surface on lee slopes in our region. In the alpine, the crust is not as strong nor are the facets as well developed, although you may find shallow rocky areas where a faceted weakness persists. The shears within these layers have tightened considerably since their formation, but they may still be reactive to the weight of a skier or boarder in some isolated areas adjoining the Whistler-Blackcomb ski area boundaries.

Conditions on the other side of the valley are however significantly different, with reports of significant sporadic releases to size 2.5 at Treeline and below in areas from the Brandywine drainage through to the Rutherford and Ipsoot. This persistent weakness is not going to go away in any big hurry. Further loading with the series of systems forecasted to arrive throughout the next four-five days will likely result in an increase in activity on this layer.

During your travels, treat each slope as a separate entity. Conditions are extremely variable. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the results of one test alone!

The backcountry avalanche danger is currently rated as CONSIDERABLE trending to HIGH with the arrival of a series of systems, with freezing levels forecasted to rise moderately throughout the weekend.


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