Our Rockies snowpack was thin in December at the start of the ski season. The big cold snap provided us with a pretty weak layer at the bottom of the snowpack and we have been monitoring it carefully. Our last storm cycle brought lots of snow and additional load to the snow pack , coupling that with unseasonal warm temperatures and wind we are in the midst of a healing process. Long term this will be good for the snowpack and may alleviate some of the weak layers, but short term it has produced an avalanche cycle which has caught many recreational skiers by surprise over the past week.
At Yamnuska Mountain Adventures our guides are trained and certified in monitoring and assessing mountain weather and avalanche conditions. Each day we start with a hazard evaluation which dictates the terrain we will be using for the day. Guides get up very early to start this process. Typically it means reading the Info-Ex reports which are a privately subscribed professionals reporting system which is utilized by Parks Public Safety and Visitor Safety teams, Snow Safety crews at ski hills, Cat ski operations and Heli- ski operations as well as industries such as highways that have assets in avalanche terrain. These professional mountain weather condition reports are the basis for the Public Avalanche Bulletins that the Canadian Avalanche Centre posts on a daily basis. Next it is looking at the posts that our guides have submitted from the previous days, looking in depth at professional weather sites and weather maps in order get a better grasp on present and future conditions. Each morning our guides fill out a Daily Avalanche Hazard Evaluation and post it to our operational box. During the day they record information on mountain weather and snowpack conditions. At the end of the day they complete the form with a summary of conditions and forecast of avalanche hazard and post it for the other Yamnuska guides to read. In the evening our operational team reviews the information and submits a report to the industry Info-Ex.
By the time our guests arrive in the morning for climbing or skiing, hours of assessment and decades of experience have gone into the decision of where to go that day. As all of our guides are trained and certified by the Association of Canadian mountain guides and the Canadian Avalanche Association, in addition to our in depth company training our skill set is invaluable for backcountry safety, especially during times of elevated avalanche hazard.
Director of Operations
CAA Level 3
IFMGA Mountain Guide