Alpine climbing season is coming in hot.
Generally speaking, it’s a been a warm, sunny spring on the coast with sustained periods of high pressure with warmer than average temperatures. This is looking to continue for the next week before some welcomed rain will return.
Summer conditions are coming early this year to the coast. Currently conditions seem about 3-4 weeks earlier than last year already. With the low snowpack from the winter and the past month of warm, dry conditions valley trails are clear and alpine snow pack is firming up nicely to travel on.
Valley trails are clear on all aspect up to 1000m where you will start to encounter patches of old snow in shaded terrain. Trails are clear up to 1400m on more solar aspects. Alder is still not bounced back making single track a bit of pain navigate in places.
Snow travel is generally quite good and fast, northerly aspect snow is still soft with up to boot top penetration.
Alpine rock routes on the solar aspect are looking clear enough of snow to provide good climbing. Would expect north facing routes to still be holding lots of snow and not quite ready to go.
Ill gamble the next 3 weeks could be some of the best conditions of the year. With good snow travel, covered glaciers and snow free rock we have the perfect storm for quick, pleasant alpine climbing on the coast.
Tantalus Range: We climbed the East Ridge of Alpha this week in excellent conditions, good snow travel to the ridge and a completed snow free route to the summit. Other objectives in the area look good including those around lake lovely water and Serratus, Dione. Tantalus itself I would suspect has still a touch too much snow on the route.
Sky Pilot: Sky pilot/co pilot are in great condition. Habrich is snow free with a few snow patches lingering on the approach, these might require some attention if we are having good freezes overnight *ice axe, crampons.
Tricouni/Cypress: Have been climbed via the south face routes. The classic north ridge would likely still be a couple weeks out.
Duffey Lake Area: Cerise Creek is closed!! That means all the classic routes above the Keith’s hut are off limits for now. Slakok,and Matier from Joffre lake would still be possible but I personally will be giving this area another couple weeks for the snow to firm up. Typically, these areas take a bit longer to come into shape compared to the objectives near Whistler/Squamish.
Garibaldi: Gari would be in great shape…just a very long and id suspects slog of a walk in. Brohm ridge is still fully covered in snow from the gate.
With the changing of season the biggest hazard is the winter snow falling off the mountains. That means cornices, avalanches and rock fall generated from snow melt.
Lots of recent cornice failure all over the range and likely will continue for the next few weeks until they are all gone.
Avalanche activities seems to have subsided but certainly not done for the year. If you remember years past when we have a weak winter snowpack it is not uncommon to have a major event into June that are unpredicted. Spring/summer avalanche are hard to predict but being cognisant of temperatures and snow conditions will help.
Crevasses: Are starting to open up and sags are more and more present. With the weak winter snowpack id suspect we will be dealing with difficult crevasses and bergschrund issues much sooner than normal this year.
Generally speaking, good conditions for the time of year, but still require some diligent thought on what the snow travel will be like and how the season transition will impact the hazard of the route.