It may not be winter yet but it sure feels more like October 20th than September 20th. The first major avalanche involvement of the season occurred on Mt Athabasca yesterday and it looked like a wild ride and a very close call. Also a couple of other slab avalanches were observed failing on glacial ice in the past 2 days. At this point we certainly don't have the observations to be able to say if this avalanche problem will persist for awhile but I would certainly be very gentle in my glaciated terrain choices till we know something has actually changed.
When I left Lake Louise this afternoon it was snowing close to 3 cm an hour in the village, ice cleats were useful on the trails at treeline, and the snow plows were out on the 93 N, so what follows is more of a snow report than a climbing summary...though conditions have been pretty good recently.
The last week saw ascents of snow and ice routes like the Emperor Face on Mt Robson, the North face of Stanley, Mt Bryce, Mt Athabasca, and Mt Fay, all in pretty good fall conditions.
After a great few days of classic fall weather with cold nights and warm sunny days, a frontal system is scheduling an appointment for later Saturday into Sunday. This will bring scattered showers into BC to go with the cooler temperatures, and possible showers onto the divide. (lake Louise area). Freezing levels should be around 3000m dropping a bit on Monday when cooler air moves into the rockies.
Sure feels like fall is in the air through the Columbia and Rocky mountains! Last weekends showers and those since have brought new snow, up to 15 cm, to the high and mid level mountains. I know what you’re thinking but no its not quite enough to borrow your friends new skis and go scratching around yet. There is no wide spread avalanche hazard yet, but I would be carful on high peaks where you could get swept off your feet by a small wind slab pocket depositing you in something unpleasant, like a crevasse.
Well it looks like there’s some rain showers in the forecast in the next few days (although not widespread), which will hopefully help out with the fire situation and smoky skies experienced lately. Freezing levels are supposed to remain pretty high, but you can expect some snow flurries in the higher reaches of the alpine, especially further north where you can expect it to be colder.
The long dry smoky session of great alpine rock conditions may be coming to at least a temporary end Friday. Most forecasts throughout the region show some rain and cool temperatures coming. Maybe a bummer for some climber's plans but hopefully it provides great relief for the vast majority of sentient beings in the region.
Hot and smoky. That's OK for your local jazz bar but not so great for mountain activities...
Record high temperatures were recorded in some areas last week. I saw a 34 from my backyard weather station in Banff; the only other time I have seen that number it had a "-" in front of it.
We did have a brief respite last weekend when a cold front passed through all areas but there was more lightning than rain associated with it. Although the highest peaks had a dusting of snow on them on Monday morning it quickly melted.
Its been a scorching, lung burning smokey week. In the Rockies its become classic August conditions where while its warm, you want to avoid any ice faces and gullies which will have constant rockfall and lots of black ice showing. This week has been warmer than usual which means no freeze overnight whatsoever. Reports from the Columbia Icefields have said the area is mainly out of shape on the traditional routes due to rockfall, and a group in the AA Col had a very close call as members of the party got hit. The flip side is rock routes at all elevations are in prime shape!
The forecast for the August long weekend is for unsettled showery weather on Friday night and Saturday with a lingering chance of lightning storms, before things clear up and dry out Sunday and into next week. Further west and south looks a bit drier throughout the weekend. As of Sunday it looks like a really good week for summer climbing everywhere!