Backcountry Advisory 

As of Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003

Once again we are back into an extended spell of fine weather. Last week’s storm snow is continuing to settle and stabilize. You may however still find isolated pockets of reactive windslab that are running either on the Jan. 26 rain-crust or on a sandwiched softer layer within the storm snow above the crust. In many exposed areas the rain-crust is still on the surface and is being covered by a new blanket of surface hoar that will likely continue to grow during the upcoming clear nights. These areas could become problematic when they receive another load of fresh snow.

Cornices grew during the past storm cycle, and they are fragile. Stay well away from any looming overhangs – remember that a large cornice fall could overstress the underlying slope and cause an unexpected failure. The old deeper weaknesses in the snow pack are sufficiently bridged over to withstand the weight of skiers and boarders, but not necessarily the weight of a falling multi-ton chunk of cornice.

The sunshine is expected to stay with us into the weekend and possibly beyond. The backcountry is going to be full of recreators trying to make up for a winter that hasn’t as yet provided a lot of good touring opportunities. The snow is stabilizing, but always be prepared for something to happen. The avalanche events of the past two weeks have shown that regardless of how much experience you have or how safe your designated route may seem, you never really know for sure. Always travel with a partner and carry rescue gear that you know how to operate. Conditions are always changing, so check for the most current information before you head out. The backcountry avalanche danger is rated as MODERATE.

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