22 Feb 2013

The weather was certainly unsettled again yesterday. We received 2 cm of new snow yesterday afternoon.

At times the visibility was great in the Alpine and at other times it was socked in!

At 2284 meters the temperature was - 8, winds were 40-60 KPH form the S. At 1650 meters the temperature was -5, 3 cm of new snow recorded there 5 cm in the past 24 hours. In the valley it was 0. Observations taken at 06:00 Hrs.

For the forecast we are now in the frontal passage and should see strong winds with moderate precipitation. Yet another storm with most of the energy going south. Upper level ridging will return for Saturday with a week front for Sunday. Unsettled for the rest of the week, possible change Wednesday into Thursday when the flow is expected to shift and an atmospheric river should flow our way. The strong cold front that is here should give us 10-15 cm by tomorrow morning. Drying out Saturday morning with some flurries in the evening, Sunday will bring light to moderate snow fall with accumulations of 8-12 cm for Monday morning at which time the ridge reappears giving us unsettled conditions until this pattern hopefully ends Thursday. Cross your fingers!!

For the local updated avalanche advisory: Blackcomb Snow Safety

Father and son spent night out , snowmobiling, always be prepared for the worst situation: Utah

Oregon man survives avalanche in BC'S Monashee mountains: Calgary Sun

Out of Bounds: Boundary Management in the Avalanche - Prone San Juans: Teluride

Thunder Snow; Storm caught on tape: Topeka, Kansas

Kashmir Avalanches kill 175 people, hundreds still missing: Northern India

At specific elevations and aspect there was a 4-6 cm soft slab formed from the winds on Wednesday night with 4f-f snow supporting it.

At some point the snow was warm enough to stick to signs at the 1300 meter elevation.

This is a shot taken at 08:30 hrs yesterday morning! Even a few centimetres improved the skiing yesterday, the skiing quality is still great considering the amount of snow we have had this winter.

Still can see the bright ball in the sky. Yesterday Afternoon.

During a good winter there is usually enough snow so there is a snow ramp up onto this rock.

Thanks to JD Hare for sharing his story about the incident at Fissile.
Re: our avi incident on Fissile last Sunday,

There were 2 of us involved, and it was an incredibly close-call.

The forecast that day was for sunny skies, with no new-snow to speak
of.  So, I got it into my head that I wanted to ski two lines off the
summit of Fissile - my plan was to ski the Wrap-Around, then skin back
up the north bowl, retrace our steps to the summit and ski the NE
face, hooking left into the bottom of the north bowl.

My friend bailed on me the night before, so (I don't recommend this!)
I headed out past Flute solo, hoping to run into another partner along
the way.  I did; and we did get up to ski the wrap-around.  We had a
nice run, and started skinning back up the north bowl.

However, by this point, many of my assumptions about the day had
already proved mistaken: 1) I was not with the partner I had expected
to be skiing with.  2) It was not at all sunny, the vis was generally
pretty bad.  3) There was a lot more light, fresh snow than I'd
expected (20+cms over the old crusts)  4) the NE face was still really
bony, pretty treacherous actually.

When we began skinning up the bowl, we found it really difficult
because the new snow was sliding easily on the crust, and our edges
wouldn't bite the crust on that steep pitch - we had a tough time! and
when we finally reached the ridge, the weather had actually worsened.
We were just about to bail down the Banana Chute, when the sky opened
right up, luring us to the summit.  We topped-out just in time for it
to close-in again.

In my opinion, that NE face is one of most objectively-dangerous lines
anywhere in the W/B slack-country, especially in the current THIN
conditions.  I knew that it should really be skied with perfect
visibility, and old, settled snow.  But, my pre-planning got the best
of me...

We dropped in and it was awesome!  honest faceshots, the snow was soo
cold and light - didn't feel the crust, and in the thin conditions it
was very sporty!

We regrouped 2/3s down the face, then I pushed off again to hook left
above/around the giant cliff, and into the exit chute.  As I was
making that hook though, I saw slough pouring down in front of me - I
was still over the cliff band, so I didn't want to stop.  I kept the
throttle down to try to bust through it.  It knocked me on my hip, and
my uphill ski popped off, and I saw it pitch over the cliff - but I
managed to stick to my remaining edge and glide out to safety at the
top of the exit chute.

I was a little rattled, and worried about having my ski buried, so, I
tried to get my friend's attention - tell him to shut it down, be
safe, and not send too much slough down onto my ski.  He came into
view, and he was on a slightly-higher line than I had been, directly
above another minor rock-band.  Before I could get his attention, I
was horrified to see him too knocked down by his slough!  He was
pitched over 50ft of rock, loosing a ski, and then flushed past me in
a blinding blast of snow, all the way down the chute, through more
scattered rocks.

For maybe 10 seconds I was screaming, first his name, then HELP!
then, just as I was reaching my beacon to switch it over, the debris
came to rest and he appeared.  He had been swept down many hundreds of
feet, over and past quite a lot of rock, but he called back to me that
he was ok.  I didn't believe him, and surely his gear was gone, and
surely my ski was now buried too!

Nope.  We were EXTREMELY lucky.  He took a horrifying ride, and was
not even a little banged-up, let alone buried, and I'd managed to
avoid being spit-off of a lethal cliff.  He still had one ski and
pole, and he found his other pole.  I found his other ski javelined-in
below the rock band, and then my ski too, lying at the base of the
giant cliff.   We re-grouped, thanked the stars, and headed back up
towards the cabin.

Then, as we passed the cabin, we saw a heli come in, and realized it
was searching around Fissile.  Concluding that it had to be looking
for us (it was about 4:30 at this point), I hurried up on top of
Cowboy ridge, they landed beside me, and we de-briefed the incident.

As it turned out, we didn't need them. I couldn't imagine how they had
been notified, and at first I was a little embarrassed that SAR had
been initiated for us.  But embarrassment quickly switched to
gratitude when I reflected on how lucky we had both been - by rights,
we should have needed a rescue.  Apparently, people on Russet ridge
saw the slide and heard me yelling, and they called 911 - so, Thank
You for that, whoever you are, it was definitely the right thing to

I've played with plenty of avalanches before, and slough is around on
every steep run; but it had an edge that day - it was slow, and heavy,
and with the bad vis it snuck-up on us - And you really can't let
yourself get trapped anywhere on that NE face.

Obviously, lots of lessons to take home with me that night.

Happy to share,

JD Hare