News » Mountain News

backcountry advice

BACKCOUNTRY ADVISORY As of March 24 The warm weather of the past weekend is but a fleeting memory. It left us with a melt-freeze crust on most aspects except high N facing terrain. Snowfall throughout the week accompanied by moderate wind has deposited a variety of layers on this crust. Early in the week we were seeing 1F-P density slabs running on a small less dense layer that was sitting on the crust. Weaknesses were also observed within the storm-snow layers on the more Northerly aspects. The problematic surface hoar layer has not only settled out, but it is now also bridged by the most recent melt-freeze crust. In any terrain that does not have the crust, the surface hoar did not likely survive or even become large enough to be a worry. Variable is once again the way to describe our current snowpack. The crust is smooth in some areas, but littered with frozen snowballs in others. The overlying layers are different combinations of densities — in many spots the "upside down" powder effect is very much in evidence. At this time of year it is particularly important to treat each different aspect and elevation as a separate entity. There were reports across the province this past weekend of fatal and near fatal incidents involving cornice fall. Don’t go even close to the edge. The cornices have become so large now that when they fail, there is a chance of the supposedly safe rock and dirt also being compromised. The long-range forecast is calling for a return to winter conditions. A continuing series of systems will bring snow, wind and cool temperatures, with snow levels expected to remain at or near the valley elevation. A dirty ridge may develop on Friday bringing us a good mix of weather conditions. As of Wednesday, March 24, the avalanche danger is rated as CONSIDERABLE. Conditions may vary and can change rapidly, so check with your local ski patrol for the most current information or call 938-7676.