Coast Range - Sea To Sky zone
There is finally enough snow on the ground for me to hang the bike up for the season...barely! I've been exploring about the region a fair bit this last week to get a handle on what is doable right now. This is mostly about coverage, access and travel conditions, to be fair I have barely been able to get to snowpacks deep enough to be above avalanche threshold amounts!
Sunday Dec 8 Brandywine area. Roads were dry to about 1200m then pure ice above this. Only high clearance with chains could go beyond, but it wasn't really worth it. In this area snow depths hit 40cms or so at about 1400m and steadily grew with a melt freeze crust to about 1700m. Above 1700m snow depths were pushing 70-90cms and carried quite well.
Dec 11 Whistler Backcountry. 10-15cms of new snow and wind kept high access closed, but we were able to access the Flute ridge by staying low in the trees (not recommended) on something resembling the low traverse that the resort has sort of provided? Travel was thin and not skiable until above 1700m. From 1700-2000m conditions improved with 60-80cms of snow on the ground that carried well enough in the open and mellow grassy meadows on the back of Flute. We were able to ski back through the ski area from Flute ridge and make it to the 245pm closing of Emerald so we could download. Be aware of where there might be avalanche control going on and if in doubt stay as low elevation wise as you can. The biggest thing to note was that there was half as much snow in Whistler as there was in Brandywine
Dec 12 Paul Ridge. Wet melting snow at the trailhead, and walking for 10 min. Skiable snow on the road starts at 1100m and quickly grows. At 1400m coverage is good on the road but still not enough in the trees. Decent ski conditions and coverage in the open mellow meadows with 70-110cm of snow on the ground and a settling 20-30cms of new snow. Again, it felt like there was twice as much snow and coverage at 1500m than there was at 1800m on Whistler. The new snow was sitting on a melt freeze crust on any solar aspects. It was moderately busy here, so lots of skin and ski tracks.
I never found any snow deep enough that I wanted to charge hard on - so I avoided avalanche terrain for the most part, choosing to save my femurs and tib-fibs by skiing low angle terrain in case I hit a rock and only at slow speeds! I must be getting old.
There were a few clear glimpses of the mountains and best bets right now would be to stay as high and as west as you can. Moving more inland means quickly dropping snow amounts. There are quite a few melt freeze/facet/weak layers in the snow so I am still avoiding avalanche terrain until I learn and see more and am fit enough to get there! Right now too it would seem that driving above 1000m might have just been shut down in the more coastal locations from yesterdays new snow.
I hope this helps in your weekend trip planning.