The ACMG Ski Guide Exam just spent the last week Based in Golden skiing between Rogers Pass and the Rockies. Here is a Report of Conditions observed in both locations.
Our groups started the week with two days at Rogers Pass skiing classic tours including the Young’s Traverse, Sapphire col, Dome Glacier, Lilly Glacier, Bruins Ridge, Bruins North Glacier and 8812 Bowl. April 18-20 was spent travelling from both Peyto and Bow Lakes to the Guy Hut in Yoho and back with one storm day at the Guy Hut. The week wrapped up with two days of touring in the Rockies on Mount Hector, Crystal Ridge, Cirque Peak-North Couloir, Observation North Glacier, and Little Crowfoot.
The week held a mixed bag of weather. The large storm that passed through on April 19th had our groups pinned down at the Guy Hut, with strong to extreme westerly winds, and 20-30 cm’s of storm snow. April 20-22 provided generally calm and clear weather with freezing levels up to 2300m.
We experienced good skiing conditions up high at Rogers Pass with fast travel on supportive crust from trailheads.
On The Wapta we found mostly soft, wind-pressed snow, which traveled and skied well.
On the last two Rockies objectives we experienced good and fast travel from the trailheads at 2000m, with a very supportive crust up to 2300m. Above this on polar aspects the surface snow is wind-pressed but soft. The odd patch of pristine powder can be found in shelter areas. South and westerly aspects are either cooked or wind scoured.
The Bow Canyon is hanging in for now and reasonable to travel. The Peyto lake approach was challenging with lots of walking between snow patches on the moraines. The Hector waterfall approach is completely snow covered and was very firm in the morning.
Ski touring around the 93N over the past 4 days we observed a widespread natural cycle to size 3 on all aspects with the largest avalanches occurring on north and east alpine aspects. Our group experience 2 skier remote avalanches on April 21 to size 1.5. These occurred at ridge-line on immediate lee NE-SE aspects, and failed on steep unsupported terrain. A test profile at 2800m on Observation Sub North Glacier produced CTE10 (Sudden Collapse) down 60cm on 3-6mm Surface Hoar beneath the recent storm snow.
Although travel and ski conditions are generally quite good in the Rockies, avalanche Conditions are very tricky and require extra caution. We found ourselves sticking to supported terrain features, and staying well away from overhead hazards. Things were feeling more winter like than spring in the alpine. We are stepping back from our bigger objectives until the storm snow that fell over the weekend has had a good chance to settle out.
Happy skiing and play safe!