Off Piste Snow Report : 16th – 20th April 2016

By Henry's Avalanche Talk. Photo by Wayne Watson

Off Piste Snow Conditions

Despite some rather dismal weather forecasts lately, we've been experiencing some amazing spring snow conditions! Proof that it's always venturing out, even when expectations are low. We're now into classic spring snow conditions. The snow is usually hard and crusted first thing in the morning except on East facing slopes following an overnight refreeze. It then gets heavy on the East, but starts 'coming around' on the South then West.. and now on North as the day goes on. Any fresh overnight snow received will be lying on top of a spring snowpack of compact, crusted snow and will quickly transform back into spring snow as the day goes on (best to stay on North facing slopes, for the fresh snow is lighter and it gives the other slopes a good shot at turning into smooth spring snow). See this 'Skiing the Smooth..': http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/ski-smooth-tips-spring-skiing-piste blog post for more info on how to get the best out of real spring snow!

Snow Stability

Over the last 2 weeks we've seen a lot of naturally releasing avalanches of deep, heavily humidified snow. Others have been purposely blasted to protect pistes beneath steep slopes laden with thick depths of heavy snow. If it doesn't freeze at night then we're likely to see some more of these deep wet snow avalanche releases. But if there's a good freeze at night (you can tell it's a good freeze if the puddles are frozen and the snow is pretty hard in resort), then there's less of chance of these really big ones coming down. With the strong SW winds predicted at high altitudes, areas of surface windslab will be forming on leeward N to E facing slopes above 2500 m. There are also a few areas of old windslab above 3000 m on N facing slopes near the breezy French/Italian border. The avalanche risk has recently been between 2 and 3, depending on the amount of refreeze, often increasing as daytime temperatures rise, causing these slides of heavy humidified snow. See our HAT advice for what all the avalanche danger ratings mean: http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/avalanche-forecasts-danger-rating.

Tips of the Week

Despite this mixed bag of weather, get out there and see how it is! You might be pleasantly surprised at how good the off-piste sometimes is! Continue to be careful if there's not a good freeze at night (see explanation above and on the blog post 'Skiing the Smooth..').
Keep checking our Facebook page to get our latest updates: www.facebook.com/HenrysAvalancheTalk. 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, through @HenryOff_Piste and Facebook: www.facebook.com/HenrysAvalancheTalk
The daily avalanche bulletins can be found on this link: http://www.meteofrance.com/previsions-meteo-montagne/bulletin-avalanches, and click on the mountain area you're in.
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