Special Avalanche Warning: weak snowpack above 2000 meters in specific areas.

By Haas on 23 January 2017 · 0

Because of several warnings of the local avalanche authorities and deadly accidents we are issuing again a Special Avalanche Warning for backcountry users. The warning applies to the slopes of the Northern Alps and Northern French Alps.

It was unusually dry in this region through December and early January, giving the area a very thin and weak snowpack. We have not seen any significant snow since the early snowfall of November. The trends have resulted from the unusually cold and dry winter.

  • The snowpack above 2000 meters is largely made up of weak, sugary snow (facets and depth hoar)
  • Avalanche services and authorities have reported several deadly and nearly accidents

The new snow on top of this weak and thin layer has created a very dangerous situation for backcountry users. While the snowpack at the bottom is fairly weak right now, our concern is the thicker and more widespread “slab” layer that has formed on top of those sugary facets. This problem can be managed through good terrain choices. Careful planning, conservative terrain selection, proper equipment, and good group management are the keys to staying alive. But with these conditions, it’s vital that you make conservative choices in your riding.

TIP: check the avalanche forecast on the resort pages on wePowder or lawinen.org

Always ride with at least one buddy. Make sure everyone in the group wears a transceiver and carries a shovel and a probe in a backpack. Only expose one person to a slope at a time and watch from a safe distance off to the side. Have a plan for how to deal with someone who gets stuck on a slope – don’t all rush in to help at once.

TIP: check this article about the what, where and how of slab avalanches

The long term weather outlook indicates that there is no change to expect until at least the start of February.

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