nerally the conditions are stable and safe, but in places there is a risk of death’, from the late French mountain guide and avalanche expert, Claude Rey.
I couldn’t describe the current conditions and the latest accidents better myself. It is stable in most places off-piste and the snow has been great. So I would add that in order to decide where it is safe or dangerous, you need to: do some basic research like look at the avalanche bulletins very closely, know the hazard ratings definitions (all this is in English on www.henrysavalanchetalk.com ), talk to experienced local people like Fab the Pisteur, look around for signs of danger yourself and begin to learn more by either coming to a talk or viewing an on-line talk. Most importantly, keep thinking while you’re riding!
When deciding where to go off-piste (I’m off piste every day) I’ve been using a lot of intuition over the last few weeks. That is hard to replicate for the average saisonaire (or someone out just for a week) I know, but to be honest, I’ve not been skiing big slopes above 2600 metres that have large areas that are over 25° slope steepness. Below that, the rain in late December helped to stabilize the snowpack and the very weak layer that evolved in early/mid December.. So at times I’m going steeper at those altitudes.
Photo from John Yates Smith YSE
Tips for this coming week
We’ve had nice fresh snow off and on recently; it looks like that trend will continue. If you want to be safe, go for the nice stuff on lower slope angles. If you go ‘steep and deep’, remember that the weak layer is still out there.. the slope you’re on most probably won’t release, but it might. So be ready for it.
Have Fun and Be Safe!