Backcountry Advisory 

As of Wednesday, Feb. 25

Fifteen cm of new snow has fallen in the Alpine over the past few days. Strong South-easterly winds yesterday and overnight have formed some pockets of stiff windslab to the lee of any terrain features. Some areas of windslab were reactive to ski testing this morning with crown-lines of up to 40 cm in depth in some areas. Some natural avalanche activity was also observed to have occurred in some steep North-facing start zones during the past 24 hours.

Below the new snow layers a variety of old surface features ranging from crusts to surface hoar to partly settled snow can be found. The bond at these potential weak interfaces is suspect at best. As the overlying load gradually increases over the next few days, an increasing level of caution should be exercised.

North aspects were unaffected by the sunny mild weather over the weekend. Shear tests conducted on the various crust and surface hoar layers buried deeper within the snowpack on these aspects have been observed to be in the moderate to hard range.

As one group of unequipped and unprepared backcountry adventurers found out this week, overhanging cornice features should be avoided not only from below but also from above. One of them rode out a large cornice failure on Flute escaping with only minor injuries and a partial burial. One lucky soul!

The backcountry avalanche danger is currently rated as CONSIDERABLE in any wind-loaded areas in the Alpine, and LOW below the treeline. It is expected to gradually increase with the arrival of the forecasted snowfall and increasing mountain-top winds.

Conditions may vary and can change rapidly. Check for the most current conditions before heading out into the backcountry. Daily updates for the areas adjacent to Whistler-Blackcomb are available at 604-938-7676, or at www.whistler-blackcomb.com/weather where there is also a link to the CAA public avalanche bulletin, or call 1-800-667-1105.

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