Skiers and borders added snorkels to their equipment lists before heading up the lifts of Whistler and Blackcomb this weekend while the Duffey Lake Road was closed due to a rock slide.
Drive BC reported the slide on Highway 99 came down 10km outside of Lillooet at 6:21 a.m. Sunday morning and covered both lanes of the road. The road was closed for much of the day. Work to clean up the slide site 50km from Pemberton is expected to cause delays of up to 20 minutes today (Monday).
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The high alpine lifts on Whistler and Blackcomb were closed all day Saturday after the upper reaches of the mountains were buried under more than 50cm of snow between Friday and Saturday mornings. The relentless alpine powder dump continued through Saturday with the freezing level sitting between just below Glacier Creek on Blackcomb and just above Raven’s Nest on Whistler through the course of the day.
Skiers, boarders and sledders woke up Sunday morning to sunshine.
Forecasters are calling for a more sun Monday then clouds are expected to dominate Tuesday and Wednesday to deliver a few more flurries.
In the past seven days 130cm of new snow dropped into Whistler’s alpine and more than 90 of those centimeters have fallen since Thursday.
The backcountry continues to be a risky place to be due to avalanche dangers.
Whistler Blackcomb reported that size three avalanches were triggered this weekend through explosive and ski testing. The avalanches ran easily and propagated widely.
“Some slabs have been remotely triggered by the snow-cats and by skiers,” said the report issued at 11:17 Saturday morning. “There was also widespread natural activity.”
Brad Sills said Whistler Search and Rescue (WSAR) wasn’t called out for any rescues on Friday and as of early afternoon on Saturday nobody had called requesting assistance from WSAR. The WSAR leader said he’s following the lead of the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) after it posted high danger ratings in the Sea to Sky corridor for areas at and above the treeline.
“When the CAC says its extreme everybody should really pay attention,” said Sills. “That is not a designation that they use lightly.”
The storm that led to the current avalanche risk also forced closure of the Duffey Lake Road on Friday due to avalanche worries. The route reopened Saturday morning. Anyone planning to use the Duffey Lake Road in the coming days is encouraged by Mainroad Contracting, the company that maintains the route, to check with Drive BC to get a clear understanding of the road conditions before setting out.
According to CAC notes for the Sea to Sky backcountry: “Storm slabs may step down to persistent weaknesses, creating very large avalanches.”
Whistler Blackcomb has rated the avalanche danger above the treeline in the backcountry at considerable through to the end of the day on Tuesday.
As Sagiv Barmor met up with Marissa Cerizo and Kris Violago at the bottom of Lower Franz’s to end their day of snowboarding he said his group struggled a bit in the abundant alpine.
“There was some areas with some pretty deep powder,” said. Violago added that conditions were good in the alpine.
“I would say maybe around 1:30 the winds started blowing really hard,” said Violago.
According to Environment Canada, Pemberton received 34mm of rain on Friday while Squamish was deluged with 83mm over the course of the day. Rivers are carrying more water than usual and streams along Highway 99 popped up in places where water normally doesn’t flow.