Really cool to be able to talk to the experts! This site is great. Could you please give an idea of what is needed to reopen the North and South backcoutry? I guess they are closed because of the poor coverage and the two many obstacles. So how much snow is needed? And then what is needed for that new snow to be stable enough?
For safety, stick to the groomed, designated trails. However, if you’re someone who seeks the challenge and adventure (and accepts the risks) of skiing/riding in sketchy conditions:
South Backcountry has not been "closed", but you had to hike to get there since High Campbell chair wasn’t running. Today (Thursday) it’s status changed to "open" when the High Campbell chair opened. I hear the skiing there ranges from OK to pretty fun depending on where you go. But apparently getting out there is quite a challenge.
Bear Pits opened today too. Dustin opened the Campbell-side chutes (off of Forest Queen) and described them as icy & rocky to a scary degree. It sounded like some of the places I’ve been at Whistler/Blackcomb and in the Rockies where if you fall, you’re likely to end up getting hurt on the rocks below you. I was the first one down the REX-side Bear Pits chutes and enjoyed the pockets of snow in-between the hard icy parts. A few more tracks might push the new snow away and make it all just icy, but it didn’t look like many people were going in there. In some places, if you’re skiing fast and you fall, you may slide all the way to the bottom–so watch out for trees, and people below you. The bottom part of Bear Pits was fun once I got through the huge icy chunks of old rained-on avalanche debris. I’m not sure how it would be on a snowboard, since some of the large chunks required stepping-over.
Northway Bowl through Spook Hill (Gates 1-7) have been open except for Horseshoe Cliffs (Gate 6). The Northway lift isn’t running so return on I-5 is required. Ice, icy avalanche debris, rocks, stumps, and all the normal unmarked hazards exist. The skier’s left side of Northway Bowl and everything North of it are closed. Remember that in Northway, the "obstacles" can include mandatory rock-skiing in the chutes through the cliffs. That’s a large part of why that area is closed right now. Tumbling through rocks is not recommended!
PLEASE NOTE: ALL THESE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED DOUBLE DIAMOND, EXPERTS ONLY TERRAIN! Even if you’re someone who like heinous gnar, you’ll probably appreciate working up to these gradually! But they DO seem to be improving each day!
Your question about stability is too complicated to answer here, but stay tuned as time goes on! In the meantime, learn all you can about slab avalanche formation and familiarize yourself with the resources of the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center
. (Then consider making a donation through Friends of the Avalanche Center
because the NWAC helps keep us all alive!)