Avalanche risk remains high

Avalanche activity is increasing in the West Kootenay backcountry as storm snow slabs from the weekend have made slope conditions sensitive

Avalanche activity is increasing in the West Kootenay backcountry as storm snow slabs from the weekend have made slope conditions sensitive to the weight of a skier or a snowmobile, according to the Canadian Avalanche Centre.

Up to one metre of new snow in the mountains around the region may be tempting, but the snow has consolidated into a slab, the CAC reports, meaning the avalanche danger rating for the weekend is considerable at all levels in the backcountry.

“Avalanches triggered on this layer will likely be large, destructive and potentially deadly,” the report read. “Storm slabs are capable of Size 2 avalanches and they may step down and trigger the persistent slab avalanche.”

The majority of the activity this week was in the form of loose snow avalanches to size 1.5 in steep, open terrain. Two size 2-2.5 avalanches were reported in the Bonnington range, on east and west aspects, both were remote triggered.

On Thursday an avalanche occurred one kilometre up from the access road to Whitewater ski hill, in the Evening Ridge area of the mountain.

“A lone skier had apparently caused the avalanche but was able to ski through and remain unharmed,” said Staff Sgt. Dan Seibel of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Detachment.

The CAC is advising people to avoid all avalanche terrain during periods of heavy loading from the new snow, wind and rain the region is expected to receive this weekend.

The backcountry story continues to be the buried surface hoar, now down 60-120 centimetres below the snow surface. The layer is capable of producing avalanches to Size 3, which by definition are big enough to destroy a car or wood frame house, the report noted.