Improved snow coverage

Five Mile creek - WH20 Backcountry Kootenay Boundary

David Lussier , Monday 4th January, 2021 10:45PM

Hi all,

We have been busy running skills courses mixed with some ski-touring guiding in the Whitewater backcountry and Kootenay Pass recently.

Today I was guiding in Five Mile creek (Whitewater backcountry) and noticed some improvement with snow coverage at lower elevations. The recent pacific storms have brought generally denser snow with mild temperatures, Whitewater ski resort is reporting 50cm of new snow in the last 7 days. This has helped smoothing surfaces, pushing down the alders and building cornices. That said, there are still many early season hazards including open creeks with running water. Needless to say, it has been a very warm winter thus far in the West Kootenays.

The snowpack height at valley bottom (1700m) in Five Mile was 150cm and up to 200cm in lee treeline areas. We did a test profile at 1900m on a West aspect in "the Burn" where the snowpack height was 185cm. We got a moderate compression test down 23cm in a storm interface and a hard compression test down 50cm on decomposing crystals to 2mm. Both shears were resistant in character. The December 8 freezing rain crust was down 110cm in this location and did not react to any tests.

Winds were light to moderate from the Southwest at ridge top today. The weather was generally obscured and not super conducive to making good avalanche observations however, we notice a solid size 2 slab across the "death traverse". This regular performer (35-40deg) is a Northwest aspect at 2050m immediately below a cornice ridge. Otherwise we didn't observe any signs of instability today.

With the Considerable avalanche danger forecast and current snowpack problems our main concerns were exposure to overhead hazard and steep unsupported terrain.

Enjoy the snow and all the best!

David Lussier
acmg mountain guide

Source: Mountain Conditions