Avalanche Canada has confirmed that the Pine Pass has about 120 centimetres of snow on the ground — doubling since their report two weeks ago. Near Tumbler Ridge, where an avalanche claimed the life of one man earlier this year, one metre of snow is reported.
For the immediate foreseeable future, the Northern Rockies are not especially vulnerable to avalanches for the time being. However, according to James Foyer with Avalanche Canada, that is enough snow to raise some concern.
“I would anticipate that there would have been some natural avalanches running (due to the most recent storm,)” he said.
Despite coming down from a snowstorm making it seem that conditions are favourable, he recommends backcountry hikers be cautious of crossing snowpacks for a few days after major storms.
“Avalanches have the potential to run naturally,” he says. “They also occur during temperature fluctuation, especially when things go from cold to warm. But they can happen the other way around.”
Naturally-running avalanches sound frightening, but Foyer says human-triggered avalanches are the exceptionally dangerous ones, as they are typically the ones that cause deaths.
The best-case-scenario should you be caught in an avalanche, Foyer says, is to be armed with a balloon pack so you can stay above the avalanche, and not trek out alone. He emphasizes the importance of being seen and staying as visible as possible.
To keep up to date with conditions, follow Avalanche Canada’s blog, which will be updated once a week.