20 Nov 2012

Avalanche Closure at the top Red Chair. Respect the closures, many people lost their pass last year by not reading the signs. As riders we need to have some situational awareness of the environment we are playing in.

The temperature at 2260 meters was - 6, in the valley it was +1 as of 06:00 Hrs.  At Pig Alley the snow depth was reported as 86 cm. 5 cm fell overnight with 12 in the past 24 hours. Considering the height of snow was 25 cm here on Nov 14, the snow pack is growing nicely. Pig alley received 1 meter of cumulative snow in the past week.  So far its pretty much a typical coastal snow pack. Hopefully the Nov 4 Th crust will break down.  The skiing quality was very good yesterday with areas of knee deep powder. The forecasted storms have weakened giving way to an unsettled south westerly flow which will give us light snowfall amounts until Thursday night when the next front arrives. Looking like cold dry weather arrives Sunday! Could see 5-12 cm today but that might be a little optimistic.

Use of tracking device helps climber: Snow Blind Climber Rescued

Dutch Prince showing signs of consciousness: Still Hope

Whistler Museum presents, Three Decades on the Duffy: Avalanche Forecaster Scott Aitken

Winter Sports Injury Symposium: Resort at Squaw creek

Updated local Avalanche Advisory from Whistler\Blackcomb Snow Safety Department: Nov 19

North Cascade Hwy Closed: Heavy Snowfall

I often refer to the Pig Alley weather plot on Whistler Mountain at 1560 meters. The plot is where the snow depth used on Whistler \Blackcomb media is measured from , there are automated instruments as well as manual measurements taken here. On the flats near the weather plot the unconsolidated snow was settling when travelling with skis where it was undisturbed. Whoomfing on every step similar to Dave's experience.

Here is some information from Dave Sarkany: November 19, 2012

I went for a short tour off Whistler Mt. today. It was a warm (-3 mid day) stormy day with a short break in the weather during the early afternoon. We found the skiing to be really good. At around 1800m (Tree Line) there is enough snow depth (averaging around 1m) to make comfortable, careful and not too stressful turns in open meadows and on the summer groomed runs.

There was lots of widespread whoomfing between 1600-1900m. Almost every slope settled loudly under our weight.  I tried to ski cut smaller features but could not release any avalanches. The ski penetration was 20-30 cm, and foot penetration about 70cm.

Dug a pit at 1780m on a NE aspect slope. Snow depth here was 90cm. The most notable feature was the interface between the November 4 crust and the more recent storms snow. The recent deposits had accumulated a 60cm slab of Fist (at the surface) through 1Finger hardness snow. This is on top of a 10cm layer of 4 Finger hardness facets (1.5mm crystals) which sits loosely on the Nov 5 crust.
An Extended Column Test had a fracture propagate across the entire column on the 18th tap (ECTP18) and displaced the column.  The fracture happened in the facets just above the Nov 5 crust about 30cm above the ground. I have attached a picture, the Nov 5 crust is the darker snow at the bottom.

The weather conditions did not permit  observation of recent avalanche activity and we did not feel like getting involved in steeper terrain so I never witnessed any avalanches, but I think there is definitely now enough snow to permit a Avalanche Hazard. I’d bet it was on the high side of Considerable.  Right now it is pouring rain in the Whistler valley and no doubt the Hazard has gone up.

Feels like ski season!

Dave Sarkany
DSK Guiding