It is that time of year again to start up the MCR summary machine, and we will keep it running through the summer and into the late fall.
Avalanches and cornice collapses in all regions are still the biggest hazards during this transition period, and should be monitored as conditions vary dramatically through the day. Avalanche gear while skiing or climbing should still be worn in avalanche terrain that still has snow on it, even though our minds are shifting to summer.
Are people still skiing in the Rockies? Yes they are but only on the highest peaks in the range like the ones in the Columbia Icefields such as Mount Columbia and Skyladder on Mount Andromeda. Other than that you will be hiking for a long time to get to any turns. It is safe to say that the ski days do not have long for this world.
As for climbing, this past week has seen many ascents in that same region and conditions have been reported to be fantastic. This is of course a fickle time of year with conditions directly related to the amount of freeze you get overnight. It will be a post-holing nightmare if the freeze is poor, and a dream if it is good.
The lower peaks in the Rockies still have snow in gullies on South aspects and still quite a bit of lingering winter snow on the shadier aspects down to treeline. Some of the front range peaks are climbable but really watch out for gullies that are prone to wet avalanches and subsequent rockfall.
Rogers Pass peaks still have a lot of snow but it is melting fast. Peaks like Mount Tupper will still have snow on the approach and ledges, and could be climbable with a week of warm weather, but the bigger mountains are still a long way off. One ski report from the Icefall Lodge area found skiable snow down to 2000m on North aspects, with any overnight freeze breaking down rapidly with any sun. Its safe to say those days are numbered as well!
In all areas, the lower elevation rock climbing is in good shape, but some significant loose rockfall has been seen on many cliffs which is usual in the spring. Lots of ravenous ticks are around and ready to peck away in a lot of these front range crags.
For the weather forecast, some rain over the next couple of days will lead to decent weather for the weekend which will shed a lot of the lingering snow. Watch for rising rivers and creeks.
Have a good week.
ACMG Mountain Guide