A storm earlier this week brought winter back to the mountains and deposited up to 20 cm up high along with a fair bit of wind from the SW. Temperatures have been well into the negative double digits in the alpine with highs around -15 recently. At treeline and below it's been milder, but still seasonably cold; Bow Summit for example went up to -8 briefly this afternoon.
Note: Up to date avalanche bulletins are now being issued for many of the National Parks and can be found at www.avalanche.ca
The big warm up of last week changed things considerably with heavy rain at lower elevations, and lots of new snow with strong winds in the alpine. This resulted in a lot of snow loss at lower elevations, the melting of a many south facing/low elevation ice climbs, the formation of an ice crust in the snowpack which will be something to watch once more snow arrives, and elevated avalanche hazard up high.
It's been an interesting week for mountain conditions. The week started off cold and wintery and now we've got a sneak peak at spring with high winds and warming temperatures. While I was skiing up at Highwood Pass two days ago the snow below 2100 m was moist, and the occasional loose avalanche triggered by warming could be seen in steep terrain. Snow on shaded aspects above 2100 m was still dry. But of course it isn't spring. The snowpack is very, very thin still.
After a cold blustery week the forecast for this weekend looks pretty decent with sunny skies in the forecast across western Canada and cold temperatures in the negative double digits overnight and below freezing during the day.
With all of the recent snowfall and wintery atmosphere, skiing is on everyone's minds. Days feel short, I'm packing extra layers and a thermos, bringing along a headlamp. How quickly things can change at this time of the year!
Summer is back in the valleys and South faces up to treeline but in the High shady places there are some transitions going on.
Last weekends snow is to be expected to linger on the glaciers, North facing alpine and probably just to the West and East of North in the alpine. Even in the trees in Kananaskis country this week it was slow to leave shaded glades below treeline and there were remnant small cornice above 2800m.
The left over issues will be some wet alpine rock, morning verglas, the new small cornices and the possibility of weak skinny bridges over crevasses.