Winter 2012 Avalanche Activity in Western Newfoundland and Labrador

This page is sponsored by the Canadian Avalanche Foundation (CAF) who has provided funding for avalanche awareness in Newfoundland since 2007.   Archived 2011 Avalanche Activity

More Newfoundland Avalanche Safety Videos                     MORE AVALANCHE INFO FOR NEWFOUNDLAND

Avalanche Hazard Map for Lewis Hills, Blow me down Mtns, North Arm Mtns and Gros Morne Park

Try these Newfoundland based route finding exercises- Simply go to this web site:    and then hold the curser down over the green dot and trace your route to the red dot. If you make a poor route choice the picture will let you know.



Mountain Reports Winter 2012 These are sent in by anyone who sees anything out there in terms of avalanches and large cornice falls. If you would like to contribute please email at

Unlike the mountains of B.C., Alberta and the Gaspe area of Quebec, in Newfoundland we have NO avalanche bulletins which are published to let the backcountry users know about snow conditions. So if you see avalanches in your travels it would be useful to record their location (from a GPS receiver if possible), date if known, avalanche size and if people were buried. Send information to my email at 

First entry for Winter 2012  comes from Darroch Whitaker from Gros Morne National Park

Peter Deering and I snowshoed to the top of Killdevil Mountain in Gros Morne on December 27th and there were signs of several small avalanches in the middle and upper parts of the main talus slope going up the south face. Probably not surprising - given the terrain this is probably a regular occurrence in this area in early winter.


Next Entry from Mike McCarthy--Jan 7 , 2012

This photo below is of a cornice break Keith, triggered by sled. Several of them that day. Had one slide on a smaller slope that caught a few sleds. Snow in there (Lewis Hills) on some slopes are 5-6 deep on top of a layer of ice. Big canyons are full of snow as well.


Next Entry comes from Andrew Stokes from the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park-Jan 29, 2012

     A few friends and I were out touring in Trout River Bowl last Sunday (Jan. 29) and managed to get a bit of info that may be useful. First of all, as a result of the recent NE winds anything that had an easterly to northerly aspect was blown clear of all loose snow, leaving a polished rain crust over the top of the snowpack. The NW aspects on the other hand were loaded with about 1-2ft over this rain crust. Compression tests showed fairly easy failure on this crust (failure at second tap from elbow), and the glide surface was quite smooth. Propagation tests however showed little propagation within the snowpack as the overlying layer was relatively loose. As a result we decided that there was potential for soft-slab release in the steeper, rocky area on the eastern shoulder of the bowl, but that the wider and gentler terrain in the bottom and far skiers-right (just before reaching the rocky shoulder) of the bowl would be safe. While the gentle terrain was skied without incident, there was a small soft-slab released, propagating from rock to rock, on the first turn of a run down the small chutes on the shoulder. Luckily the potential for burial was extremely low due to the small amount of available snow and the skier was able remain upright and stop before taking a bumpy ride amongst the rocks.
     Although the snow was relatively stable over the weekend, I am concerned about the presence of the rain crust and what a few days of wind, settling, and additional snow will mean for the overlying snow (formation of extensive hard-slab possibly?). This rain crust is about 1cm thick and is found at all elevations of the area. Its reactive nature (determined by compression tests) lead me to believe that things may potentially get a little worse as the slabs firm up and propagation becomes more extensive. Hopefully this will prove to be wrong and the snow begins bonding a little better to the crust but as for now i would recommend anyone traveling in potential avalanche terrain in the Gros Morne area be aware of this rain crust and test it before committing to anything. The plan is to get out again next week so iIll be sure to pass along any info regarding the development of stability/instability in the snowpack over the crust, along with anything else that may be relevant.
Andrew Stokes 


This note is from Troy Fisher from Trout River Bowl in Gros Morne Park- These 2 images were taken on Feb 9 and 10, 2012



Another note from Andrew Stokes -- this time for Feb 9, 2012

Made it out yesterday afternoon (Feb 9) to the Blomidons and have some good news. I was only about 1 km SSW from the Blow Me Down Nature Trail parking lot but there was certainly no shortage of snow. The average depth was between 160-180cm and so I would sespect that there is quite a bit more as one moves deeper into the hills. The only obvious potential weak layer I could find was a crust that was about 80cm deep. If this crust is from the last bit of rain then it has been buried under quite a bit of now over the last few weeks! While shear tests resulted in failure at the top of this crust, compression tests showed no failure (3 unreactive comp. tests). Due to the depth of the potential weak layer I would caution people to have a look at how reactive it is in there particular area and aspect. I felt quite confidant about the strength of the snowpack yesterday but 80 cm of consolidated snow sitting on a crust is certainly something to be aware of and evaluate.
Safe travels,
Andrew Stokes

March 19, 2012- Lewis Hills trip on Wed March 14, 2012

      Cam Campbell (an avalanche mapping expert from B.C.), Rick Wheeler, Mike McCarthy (guide) and Keith Nicol headed into the Lewis Hills on March 14, 2012 to look for avalanches and Cam wanted to show us mapping techniques that they were using in B.C to assess avalanche terrain. We saw 8-10 small recent avalanches, some of which were natural and others that had been triggered by snowmobiles. They seemed to have slid on the rain crust from a few days earlier on which 10-15 cm of snow had been deposited by wind on lee slopes (many exposed areas had no snow and were quite icy).  These wind slabs are typical of the type of avalanches we might likely encounter through the spring as new snow gets deposited by strong winds on either rain crusts or melt-freeze crusts. As long as the snow accumulation is not great in these slabs they will likely not involve much snow or travel that far. But be aware that even small slides can have big consequences in some situations if they travel over cliffs, rocks or into trees. Note in the first image below the trees that are at the base of the slope and had the avalanche been abit bigger it might have pushed some one into these trees. If you see new avalanches let me know at

Next Post is from Darroch Whitacher from Gros Morne Park on April 8, 2012



Keith, we saw the following avalanche yesterday while skiing in the highlands to the south of Burridges Gulch here in Gros Morne  (N 49.49123 degrees, W 57.60147 degrees, NAD 1983). Was fairly small, maybe 40 m wide and snow piled 2 m deep and had come down an 50 m slope, but certainly enough to have buried someone unlucky enough to have been directly under it . It evidently resulted from a large cornice breaking off, probably happened on the day before (Friday April 6); we had a lot of heavy wet snow that day that looked like it had really loaded the cornices. We also saw a similar cornice break on the north rim of Burridges, but that one was quite a bit smaller.






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