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Backcountry Advisory

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As of Wednesday, Jan 22, 2003

As of Jan. 22, there had been little in the way of new snow during the past week. The snowpack has continued to solidify, although some faceting has taken place in the upper layers and surface hoar has formed during the clear nights. The layer of large surface hoar that was deposited on Dec. 24 is still very much in evidence, buried to 100cm. deep in the snowpack, but it is continuing to round out. Shears on this layer are moderate to hard.

The forecast for the week calls for a series of systems to come through our area. Depending on the associated winds, temperatures and snowfall amounts, we may see a cycle of slab activity running on the upper layers of facets. The deeper surface hoar layer is likely well bridged over in many areas, but could still provide some surprises for the unsuspecting traveller. Be particularly wary in rocky terrain where the snowpack is shallow. As well, an oversized trigger (cornice fall) could cause a seemingly safe slope to fail.

As a backcountry traveller trying to make good route-finding decisions, take into account all of the tools that you have at your disposal. Don’t base your decisions on one quick test profile that you dig at the top of a slope. Look for potential weak spots on the slope (rocks, shallow areas, convexities) that may tell a different story. Factor in the current avalanche danger, any recent avalanche activity, and the stresses that your group will be putting on the slope (party size). Always keep in mind where you might end up if even a small avalanche causes a loss of balance and subsequent fall.

The backcountry avalanche danger is currently rated as LOW. With the forecast snowfall, this will likely rise by publication time. Check for the most up to date information before you decide to head out – the Whistler-Blackcomb advisory at 604-938-7676 or the CAA bulletin at 1-800-667-1105.

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