Alpine Club of Canada

WinterGazette2016

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Don't miss the next draw for Fairy Meadow and Kokanee Glacier APRIL 2017 SK I LOTTERY Le Club Alpin du Canada Gazette hiver 2016 5 opinions and some ego! Where do we go from here? As a guide, decisions are ultimately up to me. As a group of friends, you may find your‑ selves in an uncomfortable situation. Start to think about your own risk tolerance and where you start to feel uncomfortable about a decision. Have an honest up front conversation with your friends about the objective for the day, the objective hazards and where the line should be drawn. Be sure to implement use of other techniques, such as the very simple action of spacing out across a slope. Remember, knowledge is power in the hills in so many ways. Become educated, speak with experienced people, check the bulletin, get out there and never be afraid to say NO. e mountains are not going anywhere, and you can always come back. ACMG Mountain Guide Jeff Bullock runs www.alpineairadventures.com. What's a quick solution to PWL locations? Read the avalanche bulletin! e pros behind the Avalanche Canada public bulletins at www.avalanche.ca have our best interest in mind. ey use ongoing snowpack analysis and informa‑ tion sharing drawn from a huge network and pull this together for a summarized to‑the‑point guideline. If there are PWLs or any other concerns the bulletins will talk about them. In our packs we have many tools available. I use my avalanche probe for quick hit reference of layers often, two to four times a day on average. It gives super quick deep analysis, takes 30 seconds and can be done at multiple locations. When it gives us positive feedback—yes, there is the Nov. 15 ice layer two metres down— now what? Avoid steep long slopes with high consequence run out zones. at's not complicated until you throw in a few by Jeff bullocK A s I walk through subalpine forest with its twisted golden larch trees and lofty peaks, new snow and cool north wind bring me to feel a changing perception and personality in mountains I know so well. e thin layer of snow draped over the ground cam‑ ouflages the surface, but also highlights lumps of trees and humps of rocks and boulders. is might become the base to this year's snowpack, I think, and poten‑ tially this unassuming beautiful snowfall may become responsible for avalanches. Not thinking too much about it, I carry on up and through the pass. Is September too early to begin processing information? No. Is May late enough to forget about the snowpack and its deadly potential? No. Reflecting on years past, the ones that really stand out in my memory are those of either steep successful ski days or the scary really, really close calls. What are the reoccurring thought processes and/or snowpack character‑ istics? Human factors are maybe the more important details; clearly if we truly understood the snowpack and our place on it, accidents wouldn't happen. As a professional I feel complacency or overconfidence plays a big part in near hit scenarios. For a recreational rider there may be many small details missed or mis‑ understood. But this does go for pros too! Persistent weak layers (PWLs) com‑ prise a variety of layers depending on the evolution of the snowpack, and they pose a very serious problem. ese layers, as their name suggests, persist for long per‑ iods of time, allowing humans to become complacent or overconfident. Haven't seen anything run on that Nov. 15 rain crust in a long time? It's buried down 1.5 to 2 metres and is only at treeline eleva‑ tions and below. Well, how do we know if it is where we are? We dig a pit. at gives us very good information about the layers because we see them, feel them and can do some advanced tests, which maybe we understand, sometimes not. But is it realistic to dig two metres down, and where we think the layer may be? Well, truly it becomes a guessing game, which takes time and may give us a false sense of security if we don't happen to find the suspect layer(s). Alpine Start: It comes down fast ACMG ski guides Kate Devine (left) and Corin Lohmann dig a pit to gain snowpack info. photo: lynn Martel

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