Backcountry Advisory 

As of Monday, Dec. 22


Treeline: MODERATE

Below treeline: below threshold

Travel Advisory: 20 cm of low density snow has fallen during the past few days.     Mountain top winds have been at times moderate to strong, resulting in some transport of the storm snow. Some slopes at tree-line are approaching the threshold for avalanche activity, but below tree-line elevations still do not have much of a snowpack. In the alpine, glaciers and permanent snow slopes have more coverage, but other slopes still have widespread rock anchors visible. Travel with caution as the new snow may be barely covering numerous underlying hazards.

Avalanche Activity: In the alpine terrain, the storm snow has formed pockets of soft slab that are reactive to the weight of a person.   The debris is unconsolidated and has little in the way of destructive potential.

Snowpack: The storm snow is sitting on a variety of old surfaces — windslab, sustrugi and in some places the December 6 th crust. In the upper 50 cm of the snowpack you may find two pencil density windslabs that are both sitting on softer layers. Facetted layers above and below the Dec. 6 crust are also very weak. Compression tests are producing shears below the windslabs and also above the crust. In the coming weeks when we finally begin to see more of a normal snowfall pattern and these layers get more of a load, deeper slabs releases could be a possibility. The crust/facet combination is a classic weakness that historically has resulted in significant avalanche cycles in our area. Many of the inbound avalanche start zones that have normally received some compaction by this time in the season may also be more active due to the lack of traffic.

Weather: A series of weak disturbances is forecast for the coming week, bringing periods of light snow. Temperatures are expected to remain cool. Longer range models suggest a return to a more seasonal pattern by next weekend.

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 surf to where there is also a link to the CAA public avalanche bulletin, or call 1-800-667-1105.

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