Cowboy Ridge

Map for Mountain Information Network report: Cowboy Ridge


Avalanche date/time
Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 22:20
Estimated occurrence time of avalanche
From 24 to 48 hours ago
Number of avalanches in this report
The size of avalanche
Slab thickness
Slab width
Run length
Avalanche Character
  • Persistent slab
Trigger type
Trigger subtype
Start zone aspect
  • W
Start zone elevation band
  • Treeline
Start zone elevation
Start zone incline
Runout zone elevation
Vegetation cover
Sparse trees or gladed slope


We observed a skier triggered avalanche while descending from Cowboy ridge in the Whistler sidecountry. Our party of four skiers started from Whistler, entering the backcountry around 10:30 AM. The avalanche report noted red / high avalanche danger with the risk of recent storm snow loading onto a buried persistent weak layer. We toured across Flute and Oboe to reach Cowboy Ridge around 2 PM. A skier from another party skied over to us during our descent of Cowboy Ridge alerting us to a large avalanche triggered by one of his party. He did not report any skiers being caught by the slide. We had selected an open slope without concavities or terrain traps, and decided to continue our descent, safely reaching the base of Melody Creek. We did experience one large whumpf as we transitioned to return back to Whistler.

There were a lot of skiers in the backcountry on Tuesday, no doubt attracted by recent storm snow and pristine weather. Our terrain choice frankly cut a little too narrow of a risk margin. Although we avoided terrain traps, the slope angle of the slide was a maximum of 31 degrees, barely steeper than the terrain we skied. The avalanche occurred on a western aspect and neatly followed the downhill edge of a small stand of trees before propagating to a maximum width of about 70 meters, running for about 220 meters before terminating in a larger stand of trees on a shallower slope. We were not aware of any burials, but noticed a rescue helicopter circling for the next couple of hours.