Backcountry advisory 

As of Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Much of the alpine terrain is now overlain by the typical springtime melt-freeze crust. The strength of this crust will vary daily depending on the overnight temperatures and cloud cover. Above about 2,000 metres on northerly aspects you may still find winter-like snow and some isolated pockets of soft slab that are reactive to the weight of a person. The snow stability hinges on the integrity of the crust – as the day wears on and the crust softens, the surface layers may begin to sluff and snowball. Each dusting of new snow will provide a fresh layer available to quickly moisten, sluff and entrain more of the loose snow on the way down. Once the new snow layers go through a subsequent melt-freeze cycle and a surface crust is re-established, the destabilization process will take longer. Be aware that in some isolated areas, a small sluff or slab in motion could initiate a failure deeper within the snowpack.

Cornices are large and they are breaking easily. Stand well back if you are moving along the ridgelines, and give them a wide berth if you are crossing the underlying slope. A chunk of falling cornice could trigger a slab release on the slope below.

The backcountry avalanche danger is currently rated as LOW. This may increase throughout the day with warming and/or direct sunshine. Check for the most current snowpack information and weather forecast before you decide to head out on a trip. The Whistler-Blackcomb avalanche bulletin phone line at 604-938-7676 will be updated daily until June 8.

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