Whistler avalanche raises skier safety concerns
Concerned about the possible impact on skiers, patrols are working overtime after a small avalanche hit one of the supposedly safest areas of the Whistler ski resort.
The unstable snow pack is being blamed for a class two slide that occurred Tuesday at noon, within resort boundaries, near the top of the Harmony Express chair. It was a small avalanche, but one that experts consider big enough to kill.
In this case, no one was hurt. But it's still a concern...
It comes almost one year after the massive inbounds slide that killed one skier, at the Big White resort, in the British Columbia interior last January.
"With all the snow we've been getting over the past 72 hours I guess it's not that surprising. But it's worrisome that it happened in bounds,'' said tourist Cory Lester.
That worry is shared by Whistler/Blackcomb's safety manager Brian Leighton.
We do have a real problem within the south coast with our snow pack.
It's a snow pack that consists of an unstable layer, covered by heavy fresh snowfall. As such, the area that stretches from Vancouver's North Shore, to Whistler/Blackcomb and beyond, is considered at high risk for avalanches in backcountry areas.
Just weeks ago, it seemed that there would not be much snow this season. Now experts are warning that they've gotten too much too quickly, and they're doing everything they can to try to control the conditions.
They are doing that by using explosive charges to loosen and release unstable snow within the resort boundaries.
The patrols are using more explosives and doing a more thorough job than they would normally, because current conditions are anything but normal.
"I've seen this kind of snow pack, maybe one in 10 years," said Leighton.
Meanwhile, another inbound slide is something he doesn't want to see again.
With a report by CTV British Columbia's Sarah Galashan