After very little snow in late fall, there is now enough for backcountry users to make sure they are making sound travel decisions and evaluating terrain carefully, says forecaster Mark Grist from Avalanche Canada.
“We had an influx of nice snow over the holidays,” Grist said. “Then as everyone knows, it got clear and cold. That cold came with winds in the Alpine on western slopes such as the Grey Creek Pass area.”
Eastern slopes, such as in the Invermere area, have different issues such as weaker, thinner snow bases.
“In the Purcells, the rating is moderate in the high alpine and at the tree line,” Grist said. “That means human-triggered avalanches are possible. You need to pay heightened attention to specific terrain and evaluate carefully. In eastern areas, features of concern are shallow, rocky areas where the snow pack is weaker. In the west, watch out for wind slabs.”
Wind slabs, Grist explained, are created when snow is transported by wind and packs into a stiffer layer, almost like Styrofoam.
“A skier can trigger these layers.”
All in all, there are no real red flags out there at this time, Grist says, but the normal cautions are in effect. Evaluate all terrain carefully and make safe group travel decisions.
Temperatures are expected to warm up to the low teens with minimal precipitation this weekend.