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2023-01-26 - Ski Conditions Update

2023-01-26 - Ski Conditions Update
Exploring above treeline in clearing conditions after a refresh!

What’s been happening since the last (Jan 18) update?

We’ve had fairly seasonable weather with a bit more precip throughout the corridor to freshen things up and provide good skiing. Last weekend was cold and had some new snow and also sunny weather. This week started off colder with small pulses of precip. Throughout, our primary avalanche problems being storm and wind slab.

On Wednesday, we saw a change to alpine inversions with temps increasing to +4C in Whistler alpine and winds switching to the NW and increasing throughout the day. There were also reports of a thin rime or melt-freeze crust on the surface in the Spearhead/Tantalus Ranges but not further north. This inversion continued into Thursday and avalanche problems might include some wet loose, especially on solar aspects.

Image: Roundhouse Weather Plot showing inversion arrival mid-day Wednesday. www.whistlercharts.com

Image: Peak weather station showing inversion starting midnight Thursday with winds increasing overnight. www.whistlercharts.com

Looking forward, an arctic outflow is forecast to arrive on Friday. These colder temps following the warming period should hopefully promote strengthening of the snowpack.

Questions I have going into the weekend:

1) Will the warmup and cool-down promote settlement? Especially at very high elevations? These are the areas above the Xmas and Jan 13th crusts, and could conceivably still be thin, dry, and cold. I’m going to be very skeptical about this kind of terrain, especially anything unsupported with thick to thin characteristics (check out this MIN as a perfect example). Fitzsimmons NF and some of the stuff in the Wedge group is definitely off the table for me. I’ll be looking for the fat stuff!

2) With the arctic outflow, will we see winds strip north facing terrain and cause reverse loading and windslab development? I definitely won’t be going blindly into terrain, especially if I see steady high winds. This could be especially an issue up high where the inversion didn’t hit the snow as hard and it has more ability to be blown around.

So - even if we get a green brick for the weekend, I won’t be treating it like open season. I’m hopeful to be stepping out into bigger alpine terrain but very cautious given the two unknowns above and the overall low tide year so far (crevasses). This week, skiing has been good throughout the corridor so it remains to be seen how much the warmth on Thursday impacts the North Shore/Squamish versus Whistler/Pemberton but I suspect ski quality could be good throughout!