A tragic avalanche accident claimed the lifes of at least three people in the French Alps yesterday. An incident that gave me goose bumps and it's a clear signal of Mother Nature is that we always have to be cautious in the mountains. Even if you're riding right next to the slopes. Or if there are already tracks on a slope. In almost every avalanche forecast I read passages like this: Backcountry touring and other off-piste activities call for experience in the assessment of avalanche danger and caution. If you don't have the knowledge, stay on the slopes. It's a Russian roulette out there at the moment if you can't make the right decisions. In this forecast:
The weather was pretty good in the French Alps yesterday. Lots of freshies, the sun came out and with the right knowledge you could ride powder as safe as possible. But yesterday also showed that pure joy and ultimate sadness are so close. The first bluebird day after a dump statistically is a day in which we see a lot of avalanche accidents. A lot of riders feel the urge to ride as high on the mountain as possible and tracks from other skiers might give them a false sense of safety.
The visibility is not that good today. It's snowing again in the French Alps, so the urge to go off-piste quickly decreases with the masses. With the right knowledge, you can definitely ride some great powder in the trees today. And with trees we don't mean a few isolated trees on a slope. Trees don't protect you from getting into an avalanche. If you look around at the site of data avalanche, you'll find something like this pretty fast:
The moment it is too difficult for most skiers and boarders to make their turns, the trees become a spot on the mountain that's safer than the high alpine. Have a look at the short video below. And even then you have to watch out in the more open spaces.
More freshies for the French Alps today and a short-term rise in temperature. A warm front is arriving at the scene and the snow line fluctuates around 900-1400 meters. The sun will come out south of the Ecrins again tomorrow and it will be a powder day with 15-30 cm of freshies in the most northern resorts of this region.
It is snowing already in the northern Alps today, but the northern Stau will kick in tomorrow. It will snow from the north and obviously this will result in lots of freshies for the northern Alps. And that looks something like this:
It's quite a simple story. It's cold, it's snowing deep into the valleys, and the snow will be pretty dry. The snow will especially come down as dry powder on the lower parts of the mountain where the wind isn't that heavy. Unfortunately, the base in the resorts east of the Arlberg is still really thin. It will keep on snowing till Sunday, and it will snow heavily on Saturday. You can expect around 20-50 cm, locally 70 cm and in the Stau regions of the Arlberg and the Swiss Glanerland locally even 100 cm of freshies from today till Monday. The sun will come out on Monday. I'm not sure if a second storm will hit the Alps. The storm path still isn't defined, due to the cold air in the Alps the next couple of days. Anyway, next weekend will still be the best weekend to ride powder in 2016 so far!
Happy hunting! The powder advice doesn't differ from yesterday. Choose resorts with trees between 1200 and 2100 meters and with a decent base and you'll have some great days. And if you'd ask me, I would avoid the steep slopes and big faces above the 2200 meter. Leave those slopes to the avalanche dummies. This is the powder chase the next couple of days:
More and more people venture off-piste, but not everybody has the right knowledge and the right gear. Already 15 people died because of avalanches this winter. Do you have the right knowledge to ride off-piste? Test it yourself and start with the first capital of the Mountain Academy for free! No knowledge? Stay on the marked slopes or hire a mountain guide!
Stay stoked, Morris