Lizard Range and Flathead

skiandkayakfernie , Friday 12th February, 2021 4:55PM

Snow conditions were: Crusty, Wind affected, Powder. Weather conditions were: Cold. We rode: Steep slopes, Open trees. We avoided: Alpine slopes. Riding quality was good.

Avalache Conditions: Slab avalanches today or yesterday.


Made a plan to ski Mt Fernie yesterday. We had observations of a slab lee to the ridge near the skin trail when researching our objective from town with binoculars. Our group ( 4 people all who work in the avalanche industry) decided to go have a look knowing that we may encounter conditions that would warrant turning around. When we gained the ridge there was evidence of natural activity lee to the north side of the ridge and the human triggered event from the previous day or 2 all around 40 cm deep. At the start of our decent, we cautiously ski cut a alpine feature lee to the wind that had appeared to be a wind slab. We remote triggered it from about 8m back and we on a 15 degree slope when doing so. This slide ( size 2 ) went down the gulley we had not intended to ski. We chose to ski the ridge knowing that we would be forced to ski the side of the slide path at times but were confident that areas that were lower elevation and out of the wind would be less likely to propagate as the snowpack above the PWL was 4 finger snow in the more sheltered areas. We did have one area that when skiing the shoulder of the slide path the 3rd skier triggered a size 1 and was able to ski out of it in control. Surface hoar takes a long time to go away. The cold temps have not contributed to any healing of this PWL. We were able to ski down as we were confident we could avoid any wind slabs on our decent. Once the temps change, wind picks up and the surface of the snowpack is modified there will be a lot more opportunity to initiate this PWL. If you are skiing in the mountains this weekend you should expect encounter some activity. The propagation appears to be reducing compared to last week but the potential is very much still there. Choose your slopes wisely!

Source: Avalanche Canada MIN