The avalanche hazard rating appears to be stuck on "High" in the alpine and at treeline for the next few days as blizzards continue to pound Whistler and mountains across B.C.
High is a four out of five on the Canadian Avalanche Centre website with five being the most extreme, and means "Very dangerous avalanche conditions. Travel in avalanche terrain not recommended. Natural avalanches likely; human-triggered avalanches very likely."
Whistler Blackcomb ski patrol is advising that travel in avalanche terrain should be avoided until after the current systems pass through. As well, they've posted an advisory access to Garibaldi Park via the Symphony Chair Road is closed at times that avalanche control is being conducted in the area.
The Canadian Avalanche Centre also issued a special alert for Friday, Mar. 16 that includes all of the interior mountains and terrain as far west as Pemberton. The warning will be in effect until Monday, Mar. 19 when conditions will be reassessed.
"What concerns us is an expected lull in the stormy weather this weekend, which will give backcountry users an opportunity to get up into the alpine," said Karl Klassen, manager of the avalanche centre's public avalanche warning services. "But there's two metres of new snow in the high country that has not yet stabilized, on top of those same deeply buried weak layers we've been concerned about for the past month."
The CAC has received numerous reports of large avalanches within the warning area, and Klassen warned that, "Many slopes are at or close to the tipping point. Very large, very destructive avalanches are expected this weekend. Some of these will likely overrun low angle terrain, striking valley bottom and it's possible that historical boundaries will be extended in some avalanche paths."
Closer to the Lower Mainland of B.C., a massive slide occurred at the Mt. Baker Ski Area on Thursday, March 15. The slide was reported in the Shuskan Arm Wilderness Area, just outside the ski area boundaries. It's being called a "100-year event," knocking down trees and filling Rumble Gully with snow. There were no injuries reported, although one blog entry suggested that there were about 40 ski tracks in the area that day.