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BACKCOUNTRY AVALANCHE ADVISORY As of Feb. 17 A series of systems have continued to deposit moderate amounts of new snow on the mountains over the past week. Winds during the periods of snowfall were at times moderate to strong from the E and SE. Temperatures have been exhibiting their usual roller coaster tendencies, which has added to the sandwich effect in the upper 100cm of the snowpack. Avalanche activity has been ongoing in the new snow layers. The pattern has followed what we have been seeing throughout the winter. Lots of natural and explosive and skier-triggered releases during and directly after the storms, and then rapid settlement and a trend towards stabilization. But don't get lulled in by the seemingly trouble-free snowpack that we've been blessed with so far this winter. There are some potential weaknesses well below the surface that in most areas are bridged over by the strong slab above. However, in some oddball piece of terrain, the weakness could be nearer to the surface and also associated with a potential trigger point on the slope (rocky outcrop, trees, convexity). It may fail where the slab is thin, pull into the meatier part of the slope, and create a potentially deadly avalanche. Before you jump into a slope, be mentally prepared for it to slide. If it does, where is it going to take you, which way is your best escape route if you have any control, are your partners out of the danger zone and do they have you in sight, and are all members of your party carrying the appropriate rescue tools? If you have to rely on an outside search party to dig you out of the avalanche, chances are that you'll be another body recovery. The backcountry avalanche danger is rated as CONSIDERABLE. Conditions may change rapidly, so check for the most current information before you head out.