Backcountry Advisory 

For the areas adjacent to the Whistler-Blackcomb ski area

As of Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003

Cool temperatures in the wake of the messy warm weather system last Sunday have left a variable rain crust to ridge top. The hard bed surface from treeline into the alpine is expected to be buried by snowfall this Wednesday. Another low pressure system is forecast for Friday.

Temperatures through this series of storms are expected to warm slightly with each passing front. This pattern could result in denser windslabs lying over loose snow on the hard Jan. 28 crust. Pockets of windslab are already forming in lee pockets in the alpine.

These "upside down" slabs can produce skier-triggered avalanches. The hard bed surface can result in these slab avalanches running far. This, combined with the lack of good snow cover (especially at lower elevations) makes many runouts potentially more hazardous.

At the ridge tops cornices are large, drooping, and in many cases already cracked and ready to fall. A large cornice failure could trigger some of the buried brittle persistent crust and/or surface hoar and facet weaknesses, if a ride on a pile of huge cornice blocks is not threatening enough.

Bridges over crevasses and bergschrunds are also suspect after the recent rains and should be carefully considered when travelling on glaciers.

The avalanche danger rating on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 29 is MODERATE, however, the forecast is for that to change. Keep informed by dialling up the CAA Avalanche Bulletin at www.avalanche.ca, check the Whistler-Blackcomb Web site at www.whistler-blackcomb.com or call 604.938.7676.

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