by Henry's Avalanche Talks. Photo Wayne Watson.
Off Piste Snow Conditions
There's been some excellent off-piste snow around, although we're now having to use touring skis and skins to reach it. Incredible how quickly everything within easy lift access gets tracked out. There's a lot of wonderful, light, cold surface snow on slopes that are not exposed to the sun. Hopefully that situation should continue with the low temperatures and just moderate winds forecast!
In areas more exposed to the wind, the surface snow has been wind affected and densified. On sunny S facing slopes, the surface snow is often crusted first thing in the morning due to melt/refreeze, and then melts as the day warms up.
Snow StabilityThe NE/E winds have been transporting the snow around the mountain and creating areas of windslab, particularly above 2200 m, near mountain tops and ridges especially along the French/Italian border. The weight of just one skier passing by on a sufficiently steep slope could cause this windslab to release. In other areas, the snowpack is slowly stabilising, except for a few old areas of windslab buried about 30 cm down on some E facing slopes. Some weak sub-layers consisting of poorly consolidated snow may release under the weight of a group of skiers passing by. We will probably see some naturally occurring slides on steep sunny slopes. There are plenty of glide cracks around at the moment, which will release at some point but are tricky to predict (our advice is that it's ok to traverse under these things, but keep an eye on them - definitely don't hang around and have a picnic under one!). As the week goes on, the snowpack should become more and more stable, and the avalanche danger will decrease unless an unforseen dump of snow comes in (and, of course, slopes exposed to the sun or any rapid warming will become unstable as the heat affects them). See our HAT advice for what all the avalanche danger ratings mean: http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/avalanche-forecasts-danger-rating.
Tips of the Week
For off-piste skiers, touring skis and skins will be the way to go this week, as easily accessed areas get more and more tracked out. 'Like' our Facebook page to get all our latest updates! www.facebook.com/HenrysAvalancheTalk
Check the daily avalanche bulletins on this link: http://www.meteofrance.com/previsions-meteo-montagne/bulletin-avalanches, by clicking on the mountain area you're in.
We'll be updating our blog as much as possible if conditions start to look unstable, or if we have some nice photos from a great ski on www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/blog also on Twitter @HenryOff_Piste and Google+. Keep checking our facebook page for updates too: www.facebook.com/HenrysAvalancheTalk