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Backcountry Advisory

Stiff slabs may be reactive to the weight of a person in some isolated areas



February 22, 2006

Alpine: LOW

Treeline: LOW

Below Treeline: LOW

Travel Advisory: We have not received any significant accumulations of snow since the storm cycle ending on Saturday February 4. More recently, northeasterly winds have formed pockets of hard windslab on some lee slopes and around terrain features. These stiff slabs may be reactive to the weight of a person in some isolated areas. Cornices are large and looming and should be treated with respect. Stay well away from the edges.

Avalanche Activity: We have seen little in the way of avalanche activity during the past week in spite of the widespread windslab formation that has occurred. These hard slabs have for the most part been supporting the weight of a person, although they are weakening with the faceting that has taken place in the upper snowpack. There has been a report of an isolated skier triggered windslab at the treeline elevation in the Ryan Creek area. When we eventually receive another good load of snow, you can expect to see avalanches running on either the windslab or the underlying facetted layers.

Snowpack: We have been unable to find the January 19 layer of surface hoar that is now well buried below the surface in most areas. The cold temperatures during the past week have created a strong temperature gradient within the surface layers, and the faceting process has taken hold. On some aspects and at treeline elevations the facets are loose on the surface, but in most areas a harder wind-affected slab prevails on the surface with underlying facets. As is usual, rocky areas have been particularly affected by the faceting process.

Weather: A weak system arriving onshore today will bring light flurries through Thursday with continued cool temperatures. Friday and Saturday will have a mix of sun and cloud as a weak ridge of high pressure builds. The current run of long range weather models are leaning towards another series of weak systems embedded in a cool Northwesterly flow to arrive on Sunday through Wednesday.

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

938-7676, or at where there is also a link to the CAA public avalanche bulletin, or call 1-800-667-1105