By Henry's Avalanche Talk. Photo: c.Wayne Watson
Off Piste Snow Conditions
We've been finding all sorts of off-piste conditions. It seems to differ vastly from day to day, and it's definitely worth going out to see what you can find - there has been some unexpected great skiing this past week!! The wind and recent warm temperatures have played a huge part in dictating the snow quality, along with the recent snow and rainfall. Some days the surface snow has been wet, very heavy and tricky to ski, often with a surface crust at altitudes below 2000m. At higher altitudes, we've sometimes been able to find lighter, drier snow in spots sheltered from the wind. A lot of the snow, however, is extremely windblown, particularly near mountain ridges. Other times, the snow has been packed down by the wind but has often still been very 'skiable'.
Above 2200 m, the wind will continue to cause instability in the surface layers of the snowpack (the top 20 to 40 cm or so). We've seen some naturally occurring slab avalanches/slides, and there is also a risk that skier/s passing by could trigger an avalanche too.
Below 2200 m, the snowpack is wet and very heavy with the warm temperatures and rainfall. There is a good possibility of full-depth avalanches occurring. In Val d'Isere we've observed some naturally releasing avalanches of thick, heavy, humidified snow on steep sunny slopes - one on Wedensday happened as early as 10 am (the sort of thing you wouldn't normally expect until about 3 pm, as the day temperatures rise).
The avalanche risk changes from day to day at the moment with all the variable conditions we're experiencing. See our HAT advice for what all the danger ratings mean: http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/avalanche-forecasts-danger-rating.
Tips of the Week
Again, the weather and snow situation will be very changeable and hard to predict this week. Keep checking our facebook page for updates: www.facebook.com/HenrysAvalancheTalkCheck the daily avalanche bulletins on this link: http://www.meteofrance.com/previsions-meteo-montagne/bulletin-avalanches, by clicking on the mountain area you're in.
Watch our new on-line 'Off-piste Essentials' talk: vimeo.com/ondemand/henrysavalanchetalk
We'll be updating our blog as much as possible if conditions start to look unstable, or if we have some nice photos from a great ski on www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/blog also on Twitter @HenryOff_Piste and Google+ and Facebookread more