Full depth wet snow avalanche

The Storm Is Brewing | Verbier March 2010

Full depth wet snow avalanche

Extra-ordinary times in Verbier

The avalanche risk this morning shifted to Level 4. The avalanche bulletin also had warnings for all aspects of the mountain, especially on steep slopes below 2600 meters. What is extra-ordinary is that the increased risk is not from a massive snow-fall but a sequence of extra-ordinary weather.

Three days of very hot sunshine causing wet snow slides in the afternoon on southerly aspects of the mountain. This is not un-common for this time of year. But the mild temperatures over night have stopped the snow pack re-freezing, which has increased the risk of avalanches. This has caused large slides on the Col de Mine, Route Carrefour and Creblet. Also, closing some ski lifts and all the classic itineraries in the afternoon.

Saturday brought heavy cloud cover and the threat of precipitation. As I skied back to Verbier the weather turned for the worse with rain at over 2600 meters. At the same time there were avalanches on all aspects of the mountain. During the course of Saturday night the rain fell like cats and dogs, increasing the risk of avalanche from yesterdays 3 to 4.

Mountain Security

This morning the residents of Verbier were awoken with the noise of the mountain security teams blasting, a noise normally associated with a powder dump! Not a rain dump…. This morning as I met my clients at 9am it was still raining. After hanging around drinking coffee till 11 waiting for lifts to open, normally the sign for a great day of powder, the resort decided to close all lifts for the day due to avalanche risk.

In my 22 years in the Alps, resorts have shut because there has been too much snow but not because it has rained! Hopefully the predicted drop in temperature later this week will stop the thaw and maybe bring some fresh snow.

wet snow avalanche falls across the piste in Verbier

If you want to learn more about the weather and snow then it’s maybe time to book ski lessons with Roddy