Time to think avalanche

While the lifts won't start spinning at the local ski resorts for a couple weeks still, snow is starting to pile up at higher elevations, increasing the risk of avalanches.

In parts of the province's Southern Interior, upwards of a metre of snow has fallen in areas above 2,000 metres elevation over the past week.

James Floyer, avalanche forecaster with Avalanche Canada, says at this point in the season before the snow pack is really developed, the avalanche risk is tied to storms.

“If we do go into another period of stormy weather, I'd certainly recommend being mindful, if you are thinking of getting after that early season snow, of avalanches certainly during the storm and 24 to 48 hours after the storm,” Floyer said. “Those aren't the times to go and ride the steep aggressive lines.”

East of Revelstoke in Rogers Pass, one of the province's most popular backcountry skiing destinations, upwards of 70 centimetres has fallen in the past three days, doubling the existing snowpack. Parks Canada warns this new snow could take several days to stabilize, and the avalanche danger in the area is currently rated considerable. 

Signs of naturally-triggered avalanches have been reported in the area. 

While the skies are expected to be relatively clear through most of this week, snow is forecast to fall in Rogers Pass again on Friday.

"If you're going out at this time of the year, there's not very much information available," Floyer said. "People going out at this time will need the skills to be able to make an assessment of whether or not it's appropriate to ski or board or ride on a slope."

Floyer says while being aware of avalanche hazards is important, early season skiing and boarding carries its own particular set of dangers.

“It's easy to go out and hit something that's buried a little way under the snow,” he said. “I suspect there are highly variable snow conditions out there, open creeks, stumps, trees. All of those kind of hazards are probably your number one concern at this time.”

Big White and Silver Star are scheduled to open their alpine terrain on Nov. 22, while farther south, Apex plans to open Dec. 8.

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