Having a 6yr old as a roommate is surprisingly enlightening and I am always finding aspects in both our lives that parallel mountain pursuits. For example, my son is desperately eager to grow up, forever rushing to the next clue that he’s getting bigger. I continually find myself admonishing him to slow down and enjoy the moment, which for him is childhood. He always wants to know, “What’s next, dad?” As kids we can’t wait to grow up but then, somewhere in there, we come to a place where we can’t stand the thought of aging and occupy so much time trying to reverse the side effects of successfully not dying.
As a culture we are very forward focused people. Our eyes are in the front of our heads, rotator cuffs facilitate forward operations better than aft and our knees bend one way and not the other (ideally). Look around and you’ll see horrible postures: all the time spent on devices are creating an epidemic of nerd neck. Our 11-pound brains are wired that way, to look ahead and anticipate “what’s next.” And this keeps many of us on the very edge of our seats, salivating with anticipation, always looking to the coming season of life.
Ok, so what does this have to do with a Mountain Conditions update you ask? Well, lately the edge of my seat has been very warm. Yes, very warm and sunny. And I find myself reluctant to leave a seat that is very warm and sunny regardless of how my brain and society want me to act. After October’s weeks of deluge many of us thought that Winter had arrived. But the last 10 days have been glorious! From where I sit, I don’t even want to think about snow in the mountains when there’s warm and sunny rocks to climb. For those of us who’ve been out on the rocks at lower elevations we’ve been rewarded with crisp temps, tacky friction and vacant crags and boulders. And, generally speaking, the most optimistic forecasts call for this trend to continue for another week.
Intrepid forward-thinkers have been making forays away from ideal sending conditions in the valleys into the higher elevations with ice tools and/or skis, the latter with mostly unfavourable results. Snowline these days appears to be around the 1500-1700m elevation, aspect depending. While I might tell my son to “just wait,” if you can’t stop yourself from winteresque activities this weekend then I would recommend spiky things over slidey things. There simply isn’t enough snow on the ground to make it worthwhile and injury in November makes sitting couchside extra tough when your buds are schralping meters of December pow. It does look like there’s a bit of snow forecasted down the road but not enough. Not yet.
A colleague and I were talking about all the snow that’s faceting away right now on the north aspects during this wonderful drought. So take note if you’re in the alpine this weekend and see if you can find it as this will be the weak layer on which all future storms will rest…let’s pray for a big dump to just squash and flush. Although maybe all these warm days are just melting away the future’s problems? A small disturbance in the weather hits tonight and, though the precipitation will largely taper overnight, Saturday looks to be mostly cloudy with some precip in the mountains possible. Sunday seems to show the best weather window but the sustained high pressure that’s provided all this sun and warmth looks like it’s finally weakening. Boo!
Although we are wired to look ahead and jump into the coming season, that season just hasn’t happened around most of the Coast yet. At least not for skis. While I’m sure decent alpine ice is out there, you won’t find me there yet. The mountain biking is all-time right now and trail runners are delighted. But, still, I’m going to spend the weekend clinging to all the dry rock I can while it lasts, enjoying the present moment and lingering vestiges of Fall. There’s no rush to the next season of life and “what’s next” will come in its own time.