Today’s Poll

Winter and avalanche danger persist in West Kootenay backcountry

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
April 23rd, 2011

New snow and winter conditions continue to surprise people in the West Kootenay backcountry, but the danger of avalanches is still paramount.

The storm snow is not bonding well to the old surfaces, said T. Riley of the Canadian Avalanche Centre, while moderate winds have formed pockets of wind slab in the lee of ridges and other alpine terrain features.

“Well, it seems to be the never ending winter,” he said. “There are still concerns within the snow pack and safe travel techniques should still be practiced. The new snow remains poorly bonded to old snow surfaces, especially old crusts.”

Up to 30 centimetres of new snow overlies a crust on northern aspects of mountainsides below 1,700 metres. Dry winter snow can be found on northerly aspects at upper alpine elevations.

The new snow is not bonding well to the old surface crusts on southerly aspects up to about 2,000 m.

Cornices are large and weak and there have been reports of previous storm slab avalanches to size two on all aspects in the Ymir area.

Numerous size one loose snow slides were reported on steep southerly aspects up to 1,900 metres elevation, said Riley.

“Expect the storm snow to continue to slide off of the various crusts on southerly aspects if the temperatures warm up or if we see more sun,” he said.

The snow pack can change quickly on the sunny side of the mountains when the sun comes out. The new snow may also become moist and weak if exposed to extended periods of sunshine.



• If you encounter observations in the field feel free to share with your CAC Forecasters.

• If you’re looking for advice for undertaking a ski traverse, check here.

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