Gorgeous autumn days in the Rockies and Columbias but it is a bit complicated up high. The little bit of snow we had last weekend has stuck and melted and frozen into some pretty good conditions until things changed yesterday and today. Temperatures got well above freezing in the alpine, especially today with a strong inversion and it looks like it covered a large part of the Rockies and Columbias. Only real time report was from Abbott Pass this morning. It was 8c and it sounded like the rockfall yesterday and today was big and busy.
It has been a lovely transition from winter to summer but it looks like we might be back to autumn in the Rockies and Columbia Mountains by Saturday sometime. Cooler temps and some precipitation will make things greasy once again. The remaining snow has gone through a pretty strong melt cycle to at least 3000m and hopefully that remaining snow is stuck to the ground and free of weak layers(for now).
Wintry day today even below Treeline. Snow fell down to about 1500m around Canmore and was trying hard to stick to the ground around the Ghost River.
We have very limited data right now but an informed guess would that over 20 cm has recently fallen along the Rockies Divide and it is probable that WSL's up to around 50cm exist in lee features in the alpine.
Great alpine climbing conditions continue on the coast!
The rain last week only deposited a few centimetres of snow in the high alpine, which has now dried up in most areas in the southern part of the range. Certainly sunny alpine rock objectives will already be dry again, but there may be some dampness lingering in higher elevation shady places. In the northern part of the Coast Mountains you can probably expect up to 10cm of recent snow at the highest elevations.
It is finally time to check the weather forecast and pack a rain jacket for any mountain adventures this weekend. A couple of cold fronts moving through the region are expected to bring unsettled weather, thunderstorms and some much needed precip. While the majority of the precip will be west of the divide, a little rain and a fresh coating of snow at high elevations are expected in most areas by the end of Saturday.
The excellent conditions of late are met with change. The continued late summer heat with high freezing levels are helping the firn-snow line retreat just beyond optimal conditions and inducing rockfall. Guides in the Rockies and Columbias have been reporting rockfall events of various sizes. Most notably, a massive event on Mt. Bidle with accompanying dust cloud a few days ago. Popular zones that are changing quickly and seeing increased rockfall are the Bugaboo-Snowpatch col in the Columbia's and Mt. Lefroy in the Rockies.
The great alpine climbing conditions in the Rockies and Columbia Mountains show no signs of letting up. With cooler nights and sunny days forecast for the next several days, snow and ice sections should remain in good condition while any sun exposed rock will be warm and dry. This is definitely a good time to go climbing!
In general the current conditions for alpine climbing in the southern part of the Coast Range are awesome. It has been warm and sunny for what feels like forever, with only minor disturbances the past couple of weeks that haven’t affected conditions and expected to continue into next week. Further north towards Alaska a low pressure system is expected to bring rain and possibly snow up high this weekend.
All alpine rock routes I can think of are currently dry. There may be some precipitation today in the southern parts of the range, but this should dry up by the weekend.
Alpine conditions in the forecast region continue to be great overall. Our huge winter snowpack has held on strong providing unusually good glacier travel for this time of year. That said, this prolonged warm and dry spell is slowly taking its toll. In many places, there is not much snow left on top of the ice and having proper crampons and an ice axe are becoming mandatory.
The melting of the snow means that crevasses, bergschrunds and moats are growing and becoming harder to navigate. There will also likely be more rockfall as the snow continues to recede.