Alpine climbing season seems to be upon us.
In general very little mountain travel has happened lately, as we know from reasons beyond mountain conditions. However as of late more and more people seem to be returning to the mountains - where available.
Snow cover seems to be about 2 weeks behind last year in the Squamish area, as you move further north there is less and less relative winter snow remaining. The Hurley pass has very little snow, where this time last year large snowbanks remained. Many classic routes will be in excellent shape in the next couple of weeks and those with truer rock climbing will still have to wait until later in the month. A few reports of good corn skiing exist, finding good snow and smooth (enough) conditions above 1500m.
Valley trails are clearing up nicely with common hiking/running trail snow free (enough) to get up high. Snowline is about 1200m on sheltered aspects and higher where exposed to the sun. Routes like the lions, Watersprite, Lake lovely water, Sky pilot should be possible. Expect to hit snow before you leave the treeline!
Garibaldi, Joffre and Cerise Creek Parks are still closed. These parks house a lot of the mountaineering and hiking objectives in the Sea to Sky. Such our options are limited for the time being.
*Please make sure to do your homework on what objectives are open and respect public health authority and local communities.
Early season conditions, as always, snow travel is the name of the game. As the winter snowpack settles this will allow for travel on foot and more routes will be able to be climbed! Alpine rock routes as usual will not be in shape for another few week, assuming typical weather.
Routes that have seen traffic is very limited so far, to my knowledge only Sky Pilot and Tricouni have seem much traffic. Both good snow/rock routes that are often in early season shape. Both reported excellent conditions, with snow free rock where needed and fast snow travel.
The biggest hazard on my mind is the winter snowpack. With a deep instability from early this winter we are potentially not done having natural or human triggered avalanches, particular when we see more continual warm temperatures. This instability would be found in the high alpine, on large planar slopes. If you can remember a few summer ago there was a near miss from a large natural avalanche off Joffre peak in June. This snowpack is lining up in a very similar way.
Continue to be prudent of what is overhead: Cornices, Snowmelt generated rock fall.
Another early summer hazard is the changing glacier conditions, what is covered nicely by the winter snow pack is changing quickly, particular further north where that snowpack is thinner. Be aware of crevasses and bergschrunds stating to open.
ACMG Mountain Guide