Mountain Conditions Report - Rockies + Columbia Mnts.
The latest report from the ACMG Mountain Conditions Report Summary for the Rockies and Columbia Mountains issued June 2, 2011
Spring has finally sprung in the Rocky and Columbia Mountains and continued seasonal weather looks to be on its way. However, even though there has been a significant melt of the winter snowpack over the past week we are still dealing with an above average amount of snow for this time of year - at least 150% of normal. There is still snow below treeline on some north aspects in the Banff area. Highwood Pass has 70 cm on the highway and there is snow to road level at Rogers Pass.
There has not been a lot of recent reporting so if you go out into the mountains be sure to make your own observations to confirm for yourself what is going on out there.
With an overnight freeze travel conditions on foot and ski are reported to be good. Freezes can be hit and miss this time of year, especially if it is a cloudy night, and parties have opted out of mountaineering objectives due to poor snow conditions.
In the Columbia Icefields there have been ascents of Athabasca, A2, Boundary Peak and Wilcox. There has also been ski activity in the Moraine Lake area now that the road is open (there is still snow down to lake level). No reports of activity in the Rogers Pass area but it is still skiable from the Asulkan/Illecillewaet trailhead. The couloirs leading to Tupper and MacDonald are snowy but the climbing routes on those peaks are also snow covered and still need some time to clear.
There has been a significant amount of thaw-instability avalanches due to the warm temperatures in all zones, some running into non-snow covered terrain. On the highest north aspects there has been some continued concern for winter-like slab avalanche conditions. The Silverhorn serac on Athabasca has been active. Snow bridges over creeks are weak and the waterways are flowing high and fast.
More activity has been going on in the rock climbing arena. Mostly dry cragging conditions can be found at Planet X, Grassi, Back of the Lake (snow patches at the base), Spillimacheen and Revelstoke as well as many other low elevation venues. Many of the multi-pitch cliffs are still wet, such as Ha Ling and most EEOR routes. Yamnuska is dry and some of the Ghost routes have been getting climbed. Expect snow patches at the base of cliffs and on the walk-offs.
The waterfall at Lake Louise is melting and avalanching so heads up when you cross below it on the way to the crag. If there is low angled terrain above your rock climb or gully descent assess if there is still snow lingering there as rockfall is likely and avalanches can still be an issue (Ghost, EEOR). Most gully and chimney features will be wet and have potential to spit rocks at this time of year. Lastly, remember that a winter and spring of freeze-thaw will have loosened some holds and fixed pitons - make sure you test them.
There are lots of activities to choose from right now. Pick your sport, time it well and you should have a great time.