The Good…
This last storm has dumped between 30 and 50cm of wonderful white snow across the South Rockies forecast region, reminding us why we love winter. We’ve been enjoying the powder day after day without having to push into serious avalanche terrain in order to find untracked snow.

Powder sledding

The Bad…
We find ourselves starting off the new year with some complex problems. The early season weak layers that formed during very cold temperatures in late November can still be found in the snowpack today. These weaknesses are now down around a meter and are becoming more difficult to trigger with light loads (like a skier) but also compounding the consequences if they are set off. This makes it both very difficult to gain trust in the snowpack and also not to get lulled into complacency when we don’t see obvious signs of instability like recent avalanches. This leaves us with a couple of options to deal with our uncertainty; either digging down (quite deep) to test the layer directly, or manage the terrain in a way not to expose ourselves to the hazard. The recent storm snow is putting more of a strain on the snowpack and with more precipitation in the forecast we’ll have to stay on our toes to keep out of trouble in the upcoming weeks.

This natural avalanche from Mt Hosmer shows deeper instabilities are still lurking…
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The Ugly…
This ugly could have been much uglier given that the subject went for a ride through trees and was buried in this size 2 skier triggered avalanche near Corbin on January 5th. It sounds like great companion rescue skills are responsible for a happy outcome with only non-life threatening injuries.

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This naturally triggered avalanche from January 4th took place on the same aspect and elevation one ridge to the east of the accident above. Seeing recent avalanches in similar terrain is always a good indicator that there may be potential for human triggered avalanches in the area.

Source: Gord & Jenn, Southern Rockies Avi Team

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