December 7th, 2016

Conditions Report: Coast Dec 7, 2016

Brrrrrrrrrrrrr conditions are daaaaaaamn cold out there. So cold that your boogers freeze INSIDE your nose. No bueno.

There is no sugar coating in this report ladies and gents. The snow has settled quite a bit in the past week throughout the Sea to Sky corridor.  Pemberton is sitting at a base of about 1.3m and Whistler is sitting at a base of about 1.7m. It hasn’t snowed in about a week, so all the lower elevation stuff is punched right out and the high elevation stuff is pretty wind affected. Freezing levels are sitting all the way to the valley bottom for the next week at least. These freezing sub-zero temps are looking to stick around too, so stay warm!  It looks like a tiny system is going to sweep in by the weekend, hopefully bringing about 20cm.

The snowline is still sitting at about 1000m right now (it hasn’t snowed since the freezing levels dropped to the valley bottom), so if you are planning to get out I don’t suggest using trailers yet seeing you still have to drive higher on the logging roads to get to the snow, I recommend sled decks only.



Pow turns up the Rutherford on Dec 4 before the wind ripped the alpine:


As far as the snow pack goes, there has been an insane amount of wind in the alpine, which has been coming from all different directions. Be aware of wind-loaded slopes and hard slab avalanches. When there are wind-loaded slopes, a chance of the propagation far from where a rider is can be HUGE. An avalanche can be set off hundreds of feet to the right or left of where a rider is so please play safe accordingly.

Also with wind brings cornices. I don’t suggest hanging under any slopes that have hanging cornices above nor do I suggest dropping off of any cornices at this time.

That mid-November crust layer seems to be pretty stable in most parts but could still cause an eyebrow raise in lower snow depths. Another thing to note is that with this cold weather and sunshine, the existing surface of snow is starting the facet. Meaning that any new snow that will dump on top of this layer will be pretty unstable for a bit.

Always make sure to always check the avalanche reports on 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!

Reality check—The snow is settling quite a bit, meaning more rocks and stumps will be exposed. Access is still tricky in some riding zones with exposed creeks and icy singletracks. Snow will be a little unstable with this new storm sweeping in this weekend. Sorry this report isn’t all rainbows and butterflies like last week’s.

It’s become a little harder to dig the skis in to get that “pow carve” with the wind affected snow on Dec 6 2016. But Some good pockets still are sticking around!


Pemberton Ice Cap. Photo: Russ Mclaughlin.

Pemberton Ice Cap. Photo: Russ Mclaughlin.


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 about 4km up the road. The Black Tusk Club has now started charging for trail fees, help support the club! It is pretty tracked out but there are still a couple of good little pockets to be found if you go looking for them!

Brandywine Whistler – People are parking between the bottom parking and the second switchback. Charging trail fees have started and grooming as well. It is still very creek-y in the bowl! Those creeks will munch you whole, watch out!

Rutherford Pemberton Ice Caps – “The trail is in.” It is not groomed by the club yet seeing there is not enough snow to groom. We, as in a couple of locals, myself and Ray Mason went up there Sunday to start punching trail. We did remove trees from the road and built nice snow bridges to get across creeks so everyone can enjoy the ride up for now until it’s groomed. It is a single track (icy in some spots now), good for intermediate/advanced riders.

The moulin (which claimed a life last season) is wide open just past Appa Lake (before the 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. This will change with the next snow storm and wind…


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The Pemberton Ice cap is like swiss cheese, there are MANY moulins and crevasses open and are constantly changing, ESPECIALLY with early season conditions. 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 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. Please travel with caution up the Pemberton Ice caps:

Hurley FSR Pemberton – Parking is between 7km and 8km up the road. Heads up, a HUGE boulder slid onto the road at about 34km.  Backcountry Snowcats has marked it off with red fence for safety! Thank you! Heads up as well, their tenure for cat skiing starts on Dec 10 so please respect their zone and don’t go sledding there.

Now is a good time buy your local snowmobile club membership and to start going over all your gear to make sure you’re ready for the season.


— Julie-Ann