On the coast we often get variable winter weather which typically includes a truck load of snow followed closely by a big Pineapple express. Both a blessing and a curse, the snowpack that these intense storms generate makes for a long ski season however, it can also limit terrain options or even worse, stop us from riding entirely! Unfortunately, this past weekend was one of those occasions where the weather was not ideal and we found ourselves twiddling our thumbs wishing we were skiing.
Below is a brief overview of the steps we take here on the west coast before travelling in the backcountry. If you’re in the area these are great resources to reference. If you’re not one to travel in these parts, hopefully this will still give you some ideas and a checklist before exploring your terrain.
Check the avalanche forecasts
Planning to ski on the weekend always begins on Monday. I check the avalanche forecasts everyday to track the changes in conditions. Combining the forecast with the intel gained from previous touring days will help assess snow pack of ski areas and most importantly, help to find the perfect powder conditions! These are the 5 different areas/ reports I check daily:
Sea to Sky: avalanche.ca/cac/bulletins/latest/sea-to-sky
South Inland: avalanche.ca/cac/bulletins/latest/south-coast
North Shore: avalanche.ca/cac/bulletins/latest/north-shore
Mount Baker: nwac.us/forecast/avalanche/current/zone/5
Check the weather forecasts
Use government weather sources as much as possible (they don’t rosie up the conditions). Combining these forecasts with snow-forecast.com and mountain-forecast.com you get a good overall vision of what the slopes will be like dependent on wind directions and precipitation amounts.
Whistler/ Duffey Lake Road: whistlerblackcomb.com/weather/forecast/index.htm
Mount Baker: nwac.us/forecast/avalanche/current/zone/5/
Check the web cams
DriveBC.ca webcams are a great tool to give a visual of weather conditions on the road. Precipitation (whether snow or rain) on the road can provide a good indication of weather conditions at higher elevations.
Using these resource you will have a good picture of the potential conditions. Next week we’ll give you the scoop on freezing levels with some insight on the best places to hit!