Whistler Backcountry, Cayoosh & Rohr Mountain - Summary of Conditions
The ACMG Training and Assessment Program just finished the first of two Apprentice Ski Guide Touring courses.
We skied from Jan 21 - 25 in the Whistler and Blackcomb backcountry areas as well as one day on Cayoosh and Rohr Mountain in the Duffey Lake area.
Weather: It was a stormy week in the Whistler area. Days often had poor visibility and heavy wet snow accompanied with moderate to strong southerly winds. Early in the week freezing levels rose to 2100m but eventually, things cooled with freezing levels returning to 1300m on our last day on the Duffey Lake road
Terrain skied: In the Whistler area we skied supported slopes up to 30 degrees avoiding any exposure to overhead hazard. High freezing levels created variable and hazardous ski conditions mostly below 1600m and challenging skiing in heavy wet snow to 1800m. In the Duffey lake area we employed a conservative approach to entering complex terrain. Cooler temperatures made for good skiing above treeline on low angle and supported features
Conditions and Snowpack Summary: On January 19th warm temps created a rain crust up to around 2000m. 30-40cm of snow fell on this crust at treeline and above. Warm temps created another crust up to 2100m mid-week. Another 30cm of storm snow is now on top of this more recent temperature crust. Storm snow seems to be bonding well to the crust layers in the areas we travelled in. Below 1500m the storm snow is moist due to recent warm temps. Above 1500m the storm snow is low density, offering good skiing especially in sheltered terrain.
Avalanche Conditions: Recent prolonged strong southerly winds have created wind slabs in the alpine and at treeline. Alpine snow depth is highly variable and there has been significant recent cornice growth. The facet/crust layer from late November is still reactive in shallow rocky areas at and above treeline, producing isolated large avalanches. We finished the week rating stability C/M/M.
Overall it was a stormy week with 80 to 100 cm of new snow at higher elevations. Poor visibility limited observations and we took a very conservative approach to both setting up tracks and choosing ski lines. The deep persistent avalanche problem is still something to consider when choosing your terrain, avoid shallow areas and stick to supported features.
ACMG / IFMGA Mountain Guide
403 846 6436
Submitted on behalf of the students from the Jan 20-26 Guide Training - Ski Touring