North Joffre Creek
Guide Peter Nave and I spent 4 days with a group in the North Joffre Creek area of the Duffey Lake Road while camped from January 17th to 20th.
We accessed the area in the tail end of cold arctic air which had resulted 30-50 centimeters of recent low-density powder the previous few days. We saw no signs of avalanches within this recent snow.
While Friday (17th) was a mix of sun and cloud with no wind, Saturday (18th) resulted in redistribution of the recent snow with moderate winds and 5cm of new precipitation. Anywhere with wind affect was susceptible to skier triggering down 10-30cm. In the gladed terrain we traveled these were small pockets in specific terrain. Temperatures rose from -14C to -5C at ~1500m.
A few snow profiles at treeline in west facing terrain showed a well consolidated snowpack . Facets from early season cold and shallow snowpack seem to be rounding well and we did not find evidence of the late-December surface hoar in those particular dig sites. Compression tests in those pits revealed no weaknesses of concern in the top meter of snow.
On Sunday (19th) temperatures rose drastically with warm overriding air penetrating into the valleys. This caused significant tree bombs and consolidation of the semi-recent storm snow. We noticed one size 1.5 avalanche from the previous 24 hours, likely due to the wind redistribution on Saturday. The ski quality remained best in sheltered trees. Sunday night into Monday (20th) resulted in rain to 1500m. We suspect the freezing level went up to 1800m but warm air likely climbed up slopes to higher elevation in areas.
On Monday, numerous loose wet avalanches were apparent on the steep flanks of North Joffre Creek.
Coverage in the region ranged from 160cm to 220cm at treeline and forest travel has significantly improved since December. We did not notice any signs of reactivity in the deeper layers in our limited observations but I suspect that following the warming (and subsequent cooling), the early season facets and late-December surface hoar concerns have been quashed in at least most lower elevations.