Winter is back! The real hurricane winds are pretty much gone, but there still is a strong wind in the mountains. Between Wednesday and today it snowed heavily and it will keep on snowing intense in eastern Switzerland and areas in Austria and Bavaria until tomorrow morning. I'm pretty afraid what will happen on Friday. The sun will come out on Friday and there won't be that much wind. Do not be tempted to ride in the high alpine. The wind has been transporting snow since Monday, creating massive amounts of wind-drift snow that sits on top of cohesion-less snow in some places. For the layman pretty impossible to recognize and even for experts pretty hard to judge. Complete faces are filled with boobie traps that await the first avalanche dummies. Some quotes from the avalanche bulletins in Austria:
Am Alpenhauptkamm vom Simplon bis ins Berninagebiet und südlich davon ist der Schneedeckenaufbau meist günstig. In den übrigen Gebieten sind in hohen Lagen tiefer in der Schneedecke stellenweise schwache, kantig aufgebaute Schichten vorhanden. Hier können Lawinen vereinzelt in tiefe Altschneeschichten durchreissen. Diese Gefahrenstellen sind kaum zu erkennen. (SLF)
Die Verbindung innerhalb der Neu- und Triebschnee- bzw. auch eingelagerten Graupelschichten ist mit zunehmender Seehöhe oft nur mäßig bis schwach. (Lawinedienst Vorarlberg)
Frische und ältere Triebschneeansammlungen sind spröde und mit der Unterlage schlecht verbunden. Vor allem die Schichtgrenze Neuschnee/Triebschnee ist sehr störanfällig. (Lawinedienst Tirol)
Vereinzelt können Lawinen auch exponierte Verkehrswege und Hüttenzustiege gefährden. (Lawinedienst Tirol)
Unter 2000m ist die komplette Altschneedecke unter dem trocken Neuschnee stark durchfeuchtet und weich, in den Schattseiten ist die gesamte Unterlage zwischen 1700 und 2400m sehr weich und grundlos durch große kantige Schneekristalle. (Lawinedienst Salzburg)
Experts will understand all of the above and yes, this is dangerous situation. It is dangerous at the moment. As in really dangerous. And that's not just for the resorts where it has snowed. In the rest of the Alps the wind transported huge amounts of snow as well and this resulted in huge amounts of wind-drifted snow. Give nature some time and let things settle. Friday is not a good day to die.
Critical avalanche danger. Again.
This winter there were already 113 fatalities because of avalanches! Choose the coming days for tree runs without any steep faces above you. By doing that you will eliminate a large part of the problems and risks. Check your local daily avalanche bulletin, make sure you have the right gear with you and that you have the right knowledge. No knowledge? Are you not sure? Say no to riding in the off-piste and wait for conditions to improve. If in doubt, do not go out!
Lots of freshies!
We've already had between 40-100 cm of fresh snow in the northern Alps since April 1st. Since Monday even 60-150 cm. The snowline was at very high altitude at first, but it dropped since Tuesday. Tree runs are therefore possible again between 1400 and 2000 meters and also the alpine meadows are white again. Avoid runs that have steep faces above them because there is change of spontaneous avalanches. If a slope is closed it's for a reason.
But that does not mean that there isn't a lot of powder to be found. It's often deep already on the slopes and if you have the right knowledge you can certainly filter the risks and you can enjoy the deep powder the mountains have to offer. With the right knowledge it will be very good riding the next couple of days, because:
There's a lot powder
It remains cold the coming days
There's more snow to come
Where to go?
It remains cold and the snow among the trees came down in the following regions:
The snow line has dropped deep enough in the regions above, there are plenty of tree runs and the lifts are still operating in many resorts. Here some random tips where you can find some great tree runs the next couple of days; Tschiertschen, Bregenzerwald, Fieberbrunn and Zauchensee.
What happens next?
It will be sunny in Austria on Friday, but it will still snow a little bit in the west. On Saturday, a new front from the northwest will come in that will bring the most snow between Engelberg and Vorarlberg. Especially Switzerland and western Austria will get hit again. In the night to Sunday the precipitation will creep over the main alpine ridge and a retour d'est will be the result. That will be nice as well, but it won't be as good as in the north. Lots of freshies and some sunshine on Sunday. It will still snow in the north on Monday and I expect it to be dry on Tuesday.
Next update on Tuesday.