ACMG Mountain Conditions Report for the Rockies and Columbias Mountains Issued May 6th, 2021

Hello out there! It is that transition time of year and the ACMG is planning once again on putting out Mountain Conditions Summaries for the Rockies and Columbia Mountains till the Public Bulletins start up in the fall.

It feels like spring most of the time with the odd taste of winter and summer thrown in just to keep us flexible. From my own and other peoples travels it seems conditions are somewhat similar across the 2 ranges. People are still getting after it at Rogers Pass and along the Icefields Parkway but during the week at least I haven't seen any crazy full parking lots. The road into the Bugaboos is in rough shape but supposedly with a 4x4 and careful driving you can get to the Bugaboo Park turnoff and there is a plowed turn around just after that. Remember you will cross big avalanche paths even before you get to the normal parking lot

People are still getting some good skiing in if their timing is good. I was skiing corn all this past week in the Rockies with early starts and finishes. Open planar features certainly help as some nights the freezes have not been complete and the snow around rocks is a concern for getting in too deep and or hitting rocks. Just like midwinter-thick to thin areas in the snow pack have the potential to be avalanche trigger points and hitting rocks sucks every month of the year. Reports of dry snow on North facing features above 2200m and some kind of Melt Freeze or melted out conditions just about everywhere else.

If the visibility is good and temperatures are cool travel on the big Icefields would be about as good as it gets!

There is some truly nasty travel to be had in the trees, especially in the deeper snowpack parts of the ranges. Dirt, moss, branches, logs, frozen chickenheads of all size and then, if you get a poor freeze it could make the 3rd Zoom meeting of the day seem like a dream vacation:)

Alpine climbing and Couloir skiing are certainly a possibility but cornices and rockfall are both REAL concerns if you get caught with bad timing in a poor freeze and or with sun effect on terrain above you. It is the season of the wet mega sloughs, leaning tweaker cornices and rocks being pushed over the edge by all the yes/no of Melt Freeze cycles. The windows of opportunity are potentially short and fragile in any feature with big terrain directly overhead.

Rock climbing is coming along nicely in Valley bottoms and south facing mid elevation crags. As always in spring beware of the effects of the winters melt freeze on any hold with a crack near it or routes with any lingering snow or ice or even wetness above them.

Low elevations, especially along the East slope of the ranges can offer snow free hiking and some maybe snow patchy scrambling. Bears are out and the ungulates will be calving soon so bear spray is a good idea. The Rivers I have seen aren't raging yet but that must going on in some drainages or coming very soon.

Watch the skies and the temperatures, check the weather forecast, choose you terrain carefully, make some noise, don't drink and drive, get out and vote, stay in your bubble, be socially distant, don't travel, remember Mothers day, taxes were due weeks ago, chew your food, etc etc. Damn, it is complex being human these days but it can still be pretty fabulous in the hills if you are in the right place at the right time.

Happy Trails!
Larry Stanier
ACMG Mountain Guide

On The Map

These observations and opinions are those of the person who submitted them. The ACMG and its members take no responsibility for errors, omissions, or lapses in continuity. Conditions differ greatly over time and space due to the variable nature of mountain weather and terrain. Application of this information provides no guarantee of increased safety. Do not use the Mountain Conditions Report as the sole factor in planning trips or making decisions in the field.