Avalanche conditions in the backcountry are currently tricky according to the Canadian Avalanche Centre.
Cam Campbell, avalanche forecaster, said that though they’re not expecting huge storms to roll over the region in the next few days, people triggering avalanches are quite possible with the conditions in the area.
“There’s a buried persistent weakness that is certainly susceptible to human triggers,” Campbell said, adding that it can be positioned on slopes where the danger might not be as obvious as it could be.
Campbell attributes the danger to a surface hoar frost layer that formed during the early December drought. That layer is now buried between 30 to 80 cm under snow, though he said it would be a little bit shallower around Rossland.
That frost layer, buried beneath a cohesive slab of snow on top of it, is pretty sensitive to human triggers.
“It’s the type of weakness that tends to remain touchy for extended periods,” he said.
Currently the danger rating is at considerable and it will probably remain there for the foreseeable future.
He expects it to begin to cool down today and Friday, which could help lock things up for the time being. But he said there are definitely dangerous avalanche conditions throughout the forecast period.
Campbell was just finishing the bulletin on Tuesday and said a number of avalanches were triggered remotely by skiers on Monday.
“There were people triggering avalanches from safe areas on ridge crests that run on the adjacent slopes,” he said. “It’s a sign that this weakness is quite sensitive and the ability to propagate fractures over large areas is very characteristic of this type of slab problem.”
Campbell said careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision making are essential for safe travel. The likelihood of triggering an avalanche is high if you’re in the wrong spot at the wrong time, which is characteristic of most of the Interior ranges at the moment.
“The coastal areas are getting hammered with a pretty good storm right now and so they’re into high danger at the moment and probably will be for the next little while,” he said. “They’re seeing some pretty big natural avalanches running.”
For more avalanche condition info, visit www.avalanche.ca/cac/.