The beginning of a new snowpack

Winter officially starts on the winter solstice, December 21. This is the shortest day of the year, the time when the sun reaches its southernmost point in the sky and historically a day for great powder skiing. This year the solstice arrives at 6:12 a.m. (EST), the earliest winter start since 1896. This is good enough reason for an Ullr celebration and ski burning!

For backcountry skiers our favourite season starts as soon as there’s a snowpack to support our skis. This year’s mountain snowfalls began in the third week of October providing a base for keeners to get out there before Halloween. November brought typical early season melt/freeze cycles helping to develop a strong base at treeline and above.

For those of us living in valley bottoms, early season is a tough time to get beta on the backcountry snowpack. Early reports from skiers and commercial operators in the Monashees are of 100 to 130 centimetres at treeline elevations as of November 21. With storms in the forecast this may quickly grow to a depth of 200 cm into the beginning of December.

Commercial ski touring, helicopter, and cat skiing operations are up and running by now, and they’re a great resource for current reports on the backcountry snowpack.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is expanding and improving their public product every year, and their public bulletins are the best place to start for snowpack and avalanche information.

Look at the sites below to get up to date conditions for the areas:


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