Conditions Report: Coast Mar 23, 2017
Julie-Ann Chapman | On 23, Mar 2017
Spring time maybe lurking around the corner… The valley sure is starting to show its true spring colours, you know, brown, where you’re not quite sure its dirt or dog poo… The alpine is a whole different story though. This past week was epic snow up top. Deep, cold smoke! We did have a little warming on March 20 with sunshine, which created a bit of a melt freeze crust.
As far as the snowpack goes, there are a couple of dangers to take note of. The persistent weak layer that is down about a meter, to a meter and a half below the snow is still being mentioned in the avalanche forecast. After my personal tests I think this layer could be triggered if a large drop onto a slope is done (human trigger or cornice fall trigger).
Second is the wind that has been happening in the alpine. This is creating wind-loaded slopes that can be touchy as well as wind scoured slopes that can be triggered in shallow areas. Wind also allows cornices to grow making them weaker as they get bigger.
And third is the melt freeze crust that happened on March 20. With new snow expected to fall on top of that (about 40cm in the next 3 days) making the storm snow touchy for the weekend coming. Freezing levels are expected to sit around 1300m for the next 3-4 days.
Always make sure to always check the avalanche reports on avalanche.ca before heading out into the backcountry. Please feel free to write your own report of what you have found and observed out there in the Mountain Information Network (MIN) on their page! This is a great tool to read about what’s been going on in the backcountry.
Reality check: Spring is around the corner but winter is still going strong in the alpine. Good travelling snow to be had but be aware of changing conditions at different elevations. Travel with caution as heightened avalanche danger ratings will go up for the weekend. I would also start thinking of maybe leaving the trailers at home in the next couple weeks, the snow is melting fast in the valley and you will need to drive up logging roads and turn around in tight places soon to get to the snow line…
Brohm Squamish – Seeing as I do not head to Brohm to ride very often, Brody Fourchalk will be helping me out with the report for this location through out the season. Parking is at around 5km up the road, with some ice on the road, so be careful. The Black Tusk Club has now started charging for trail fees, help support the club! Grooming is underway. It was raining at the cabin today.
Brandywine Whistler – People are parking at the bottom. Grooming and trail fee collection is underway.
Rutherford Pemberton Ice Cap – Parking is still at the bottom for now, but may change soon with the rain and warm temperatures in the valley.The the snowcat is grooming the trail to the cabin every Tuesday and Friday evenings. The Pemberton Valley Snowmobile Club is collecting fees.
The moulin (which claimed a life last season) is wide open just past Appa Lake (before gas drop) and is not roped off. It is right in the middle of the path where people travel. The ground dips down quite a bit before the actual hole, but if you are mock-chickening it there will be no stopping before. The Pemberton Ice Cap is like Swiss cheese, there are MANY moulins and crevasses open and are constantly changing, ESPECIALLY this early in the season. If you are a smart backcountry & glacier traveler then you are aware that these holes are expected and are actually everywhere! Always look in front and travel with caution.
The backcountry is a dangerous place and people shouldn’t expect for things to be marked off like at resorts. Everyone is responsible for his or her own actions back there. Take a crevasse rescue course, be prepared, and ride with people that know the area.
Hurley FSR Pemberton – Parking is at the bottom of the Hurley (9km from the Pemby Meadows turnoff) for now, but that may change soon with the rain and warm temperatures in the valley. As warm temperatures set in, the “whooped out conditions” happen a lot quicker with lots of snowmobile traffic, please be aware of this. Future plans are to groom on Thursday and Monday evenings as donations & membership budgets permit. Please purchase your membership to support or donate the $20 at the trail! Heads up, a HUGE boulder has slid onto the road at about 34km. Backcounrty Snowcats has marked it off with red fence for safety! Thank you! Heads up as well, their season for cat-skiing has started, so please respect their zone and don’t go sledding there.