High on the Mountain Top
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Whistler, BC, Canada.
Interest: Exploring the Coast Mountains and surrounding ocean waters in all seasons.
Whistler Westside Trails snow conditions 170521
Spent a day moving trailmarkers up on trees, taking advantage of the abundant snowpack on Skywalk. Markers raised from Valley floor to final breakout at treeline, where existing markers are still buried by the 350cm snowpack at that elevation (1300m).
Snow starts at 900m on 19 Mile Creek Trail. About 70cm at Flank Trail and rapidly increasing after crossing on the Long Bridge. We did not climb above the Skywalk junctions as an afternoon avalanche cycle was in progress, with some releases going to ground below corniced ridgetops. With forecast freezing levels going well above 3500m, radiational refreeze in the alpine is questionable, so larger avalanches are a real possibility.
We have encountered groups the past week that intend to do the entire Skywalk and are starting later in the morning. This is not advised, as the avalanche danger from isothermal avalanches, especially in the afternoons, is potentially high. As well, climax avalanches are not out of the question, and from 1250m on up the trail is largely in avalanche runout zones.
As the snow melts, we will continue to raise markers on the trail system. We would be surprised if the alpine is melted out for hiking before July. We used snowshoes above 900m yesterday to avoid postholing.
Fun is where you make it...