Children make their way up a closed Whistler Mountain to toboggan in Whistler, B.C. Sunday, March 15, 2020. An Avalanche Canada snow expert says a recent cold snap followed by snowfall in British Columbia’s south coastal region has resulted in unusual and tricky conditions in mountain areas frequented by back country enthusiasts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Children make their way up a closed Whistler Mountain to toboggan in Whistler, B.C. Sunday, March 15, 2020. An Avalanche Canada snow expert says a recent cold snap followed by snowfall in British Columbia’s south coastal region has resulted in unusual and tricky conditions in mountain areas frequented by back country enthusiasts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Whistler-area avalanche conditions ‘tricky,’ says expert after two recent deaths

Cold weather and snow created a snow pack with an upper layer similar to a sugar crust that breaks off easily

Cold winds followed by snowfall in British Columbia’s south coastal region has produced unusual and tricky avalanche conditions in mountain areas frequented by backcountry enthusiasts, says an Avalanche Canada spokesman.

The frigid winds from the north and east last week and the weekend’s snowfall created unstable slabs of snow that are not bonding well with mountain surfaces, especially in the Whistler area, Ilya Storm said Monday.

“Conditions are not typical for this part of B.C.,” Storm said in an interview from Revelstoke. “The snowpack structure is not typical. The location of the problems in the terrain are different. People should be going out with some extra caution over the next little while because we don’t think this is going to heal very quickly.”

Whistler RCMP reported two deaths and several injuries after skiers and snowboarders were caught in separate avalanches in the Blackcomb Glacier and Brandywine Bowl areas.

Police said Saturday they responded to four serious search and rescue calls and asked skiers and snowboarders to avoid the backcountry.

Storm said the cold weather and snow created a snow pack with an upper layer similar to a sugar crust that breaks off easily.

“The picture I’m painting right now is one of tricky conditions,” he said. “It’s consistent with the idea that the snowpack structure and the conditions in the mountains are unusual, tricky and quite potentially surprising.”

People can still head into the wilderness, but must be cautious and know the area they are visiting, Storm said.

“It’s a time to be really cautious because conditions are quite likely not what people are used to in the south coast area,” he said. “There’s a reason why we say anybody who goes into the mountains should have an avalanche course, should have some training and should have the gear and know how to use it.”

The Avalanche Canada website lists the avalanche danger for Tuesday in the alpine zones in the Sea-to-Sky region as considerable, meaning dangerous conditions are present and human-caused avalanches are likely.

“If you don’t have that (avalanche) education and experience then you shouldn’t go into the mountains,” said Storm. “You should be staying in bounds in ski areas.”

READ MORE: Dangerous conditions in Whistler area mountains lead to 2nd death in 2 days

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Whistler

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jovin Walkus and Alayah Mack enjoy the Centennial Pool in summer 2020. (Geneva Walkus photo)
CCRD receives more funding for Centennial Pool project

The total funding for the project is now over $4 million

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The school is very proud of these students (pictured, left to right): Halim Demir (holding Grace Valdez’ gold certificate); Lauren McIlwain, Shayleen Mack, Jaymen Schieck, Kyle Doiron, and Finn Carlson (photo submitted)
SAMS students excel in international competition

The SAMS team swept their category this year; all six participants received awards

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

This poster, spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 restrictions, has been popping up in communities across Vancouver Island.
Poster popping up on Vancouver Island falsely claims COVID restrictions are over

Unattributed poster claims COVID restrictions ended March 1; Island Health responds

COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents offered $5 after getting COVID-19 vaccine

It’s an effort to ‘incentivize people to engage,’ says B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

</p>
A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)
COVID-19 worsened unemployment picture for Black Canadians

Black Canadians also more likely to suffer other hardships

Most Read