Playing the elevation game at Elk

AvCan Vancouver Island

We headed up to Elk Mountain again today to get a sense of how the mixed bag of precip and freezing levels was affecting different elevations in the mountains. Our biggest concern was for new snow forming slabs over the widespread surface hoar we've seen over the last few days. We reached the welcome transition from rainfall to snowfall at 900 m, but it wasn't until 1200 m that we found dry snow on the surface. By 1350 m we also had dry snow below the dodgy surface hoar we were tracking. The surface hoar itself wasn't well preserved as it had taken some rain or freezing rain at the beginning of the storm. By our 1550 m high point, 10-20 cm of new snow, actively being redistributed by south winds, was showing early signs of forming slabs over our damaged surface hoar layer. We saw cracking around the skin track and very easy (although still shallow) shears in snowpack tests. Ski cutting still only produced sluffing. In areas with a bit more snow than we saw, this layer is one to watch closely.

Snow conditions were: Crusty, Deep powder, Heavy, Powder, Wet. Weather conditions were: Cloudy, Foggy, Stormy, Warm, Wet. We rode: Mellow slopes, Open trees. We avoided: Alpine slopes. Riding quality was amazing.

Avalache Conditions: Rapid temperature rise to near zero degrees or wet surface snow.