S2S = Sea to Sky Whistler Westside Trails snow conditions 170521 - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 05-22-2017, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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.
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Default 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...
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 05-22-2017, 07:05 PM
Hittin' the Trails
 
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Isothermal? Do you mean wet avalanches?
Do they really exist? Never seen one. Don't they move slow? Never heard of slab avalanches this time of year. Everything is consolidated. I think avalanche forecasting stops completely in April.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 05-23-2017, 09:54 PM Thread Starter
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.
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Originally Posted by Cerial View Post
Isothermal? Do you mean wet avalanches?
Do they really exist? Never seen one. Don't they move slow? Never heard of slab avalanches this time of year. Everything is consolidated. I think avalanche forecasting stops completely in April.
Cerial:

Isothermal means no temperature gradient within the snowpack. Snowpack near 0C throughout. This can produce wet slab avalanches or if temps rise even further with free water within the snowpack wet loose avalanches. A generally "consolidated" snowpack can fail when the stress/strength balance is upset.

Slab avalanches can occur at any time in the year. I saw them occur, as reported, yesterday, with crowns of just over 200cm.

I am an avalanche professional. If I'm going into avalanche terrain, or I see others going into this terrain, I forecast based on current conditions and forecast weather.

If a slope is steep enough, wet snow avalanches can travel faster than one can ski or run without a problem. That is what I witnessed yesterday.

Snow avalanches tend to cease when all available snow has melted...

Fun is where you make it...
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 05-24-2017, 12:25 AM
Hittin' the Trails
 
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OK, thanks. Never seen an avalanche on West coast.
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