BC Avalanche Conditions


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In the thread that followed from EMSC's report of his tour with Mustang, we discussed Avalanche.ca's warning that this year's snowpack in the region may be the worst in 20 years, including a layer of faceted November snow at the bottom of the snowpack that is likely to continue to pose problems for the foreseeable future and perhaps to the end of the season. https://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/threads/mustang-powder-cat-jan-13-15-2023.14651/#post-87129

Since then, the daily avalanche forecasts have reported numerous instances in the region of large avalanches running on the November facets.

This happened yesterday, just south of Revelstoke: https://www.revelstokereview.com/news/2-heli-skiers-killed-in-avalanche-near-revelstoke/

This happened Saturday, south of Valemount: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/avalanche-snowmobile-killed-1.6722657 The Avalanche.ca report confirms that this slide ran on the November facets.


I'll be at Mustang 2/18-20. Of, course I'm hoping things stabilize by then, but the forecasts and reports are not encouraging. It will be interesting to see what the conditions will allow us to ski and how the vibe of this year's tour compares to our previous tours.

For everybody headed to BC in the coming weeks, be careful out there.
slide ran on the November facets
Not sure how much snow/water weight has been added to the snowpack since I left, but layers like this are super scary in that they just barely hold up for long periods until the weight on them hit the 'magic' amount and then they start sliding. Perhaps right now only with skier weight, but eventually a lot of natural slides are likely too. And of course being right near the ground means a long time to build back a skiable snowpack in those areas as well.

These types of layers are present in Colorado snowpack in most years, thus the very high incidence of avalanches and deaths compared to most other states/provinces. I guess the more stable temps and cloud cover make these types of layers relatively uncommon in BC.
Most years Alberta is like Colorado and I suspect interior BC more like the Wasatch or Tetons.

But yes this years sounds a lot like what I recall from 2003 in B.C.
In the early 90’s I went heli in bc during a very active avi cycle.
The guides where praying for heavy rain to stabilize the pack
More details about Monday's avalanche near Revelstoke from Avalanche.ca:

"On Monday, a serious skier-triggered avalanche incident occurred in the Selkirks near Revelstoke. The avalanche was on an east aspect at 1900 m. It occurred on a steep, unsupported open slope below treeline and failed on a weak layer of surface hoar buried in early January. This large avalanche (size 2) had a crown depth of 50 cm."

So this one was not on the November layer.
In the early 90’s I went heli in bc during a very active avi cycle.
The guides where praying for heavy rain to stabilize the pack
In the run up to the warm storm that complicated EMSC's Mustang tour, I noticed BC posters on another forum expressing their hope that the storm would rain all the way up for the same reason.
Interesting; it failed on the Jan 5th layer. We had 60-70cm crown depths on the small an short ~10m rollovers that partially slid as we skied on day 1.

It was very wet/rain up to ~1700-1725m during the storm when I was at Mustang. So 1900m is not much above that. Sounds like they were skiing a cut block. Our guide specifically kept us away from cut blocks our first two days on Mustang and then we were in alpine or not overly near any cut blocks for day 3.
How did @EMSC end up at Mustang? I know somebody was trying to sell 1/13-15 but thought it was small groups/steep chutes.

Saw https://thepowdercloud.com/learn/avalanche-education/the-seductive-lure-of-tracks/ posted on SkiTalk by someone who lives near Red Mountain.

Looking forward to seeing and skiing with @flyover in a couple of weeks. Are you going to ski anywhere before Mustang? I’m coming up thru Schweitzer/Spokane and will ski Red the day before and Revelstoke day of Mustang pickup.