Other than consistent idyllic powder skiing conditions since the middle of January there hasn’t been much excitement in the Monashee snow pack. The last two weeks of January brought steady light snowfalls, which generally bonded well to previous layers. These storms were accompanied by steady wind, building short-lived windslab instabilities demanding caution at ridge-top and alpine features. By the beginning of February the storm tracks retreated to leave a snow pack averaging three to four metres in the Monashees.
February was dominantly dry and clear, with many bold new lines skied in the backcountry under sunny skies. This dry spell built another layer of weak surface hoar, facets, and surface hoar sitting on sun crusts on south facing slopes. The February 8 and 16 layers will need to be treated with caution as forecasted light storms add more load.
Some advice on gear—the right tools for the job. Do you still insist on backcountry powder skiing on narrow skis? And use all season tires in the winter? Sure, they can work when conditions are ideal, but if you want to shred all backcountry conditions with ease you should be checking out the latest in rockered ski technology. Minimum 100 millimetre in the waist and early rise tip, such as Prior skis, is the direction skis are going.
Also on the radar for backcountry skiers is the Kootenay Coldsmoke Powder Fest at Whitewater Resort. It provides clinics, competitions and celebrations of all things backcountry for veterans and newcomers alike.
Check these advisories before heading into the mountains: www.avalanche.ca/cac/bulletins, www.acmg.ca/mcr and www.powdercloud.com/public/report.
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