As of Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Much of the alpine terrain is now overlain by the typical springtime melt-freeze crust. The strength of this crust will vary daily depending on the overnight temperatures and cloud cover. Above about 2,000 metres on northerly aspects you may still find winter-like snow and some isolated pockets of soft slab that are reactive to the weight of a person. The snow stability hinges on the integrity of the crust as the day wears on and the crust softens, the surface layers may begin to sluff and snowball. Each dusting of new snow will provide a fresh layer available to quickly moisten, sluff and entrain more of the loose snow on the way down. Once the new snow layers go through a subsequent melt-freeze cycle and a surface crust is re-established, the destabilization process will take longer. Be aware that in some isolated areas, a small sluff or slab in motion could initiate a failure deeper within the snowpack.
Cornices are large and they are breaking easily. Stand well back if you are moving along the ridgelines, and give them a wide berth if you are crossing the underlying slope. A chunk of falling cornice could trigger a slab release on the slope below.
The backcountry avalanche danger is currently rated as LOW. This may increase throughout the day with warming and/or direct sunshine. Check for the most current snowpack information and weather forecast before you decide to head out on a trip. The Whistler-Blackcomb avalanche bulletin phone line at 604-938-7676 will be updated daily until June 8.