Sent on behalf of Grant Statham:
The dog days of summer are “the hot, sultry days of summer”, and they are here now! Considering the 35 degree temperature in Revelstoke right now, and the forecast for this weekend – it’s safe to say that the heat is this week’s big story. Both Invermere and Calgary weather forecasts have “special weather statements in effect”, which warn of an extended spell of temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s right through the weekend.
So what does this mean in the mountains?
First off, alpine climbers should consider avoiding any steep snow and ice routes; these are bound to be falling apart. Now and this weekend is the biggest warm-up of the summer, and that means the snowpack even up to 3500m will take a beating. The heat will penetrate deep into the snowpack, and you should expect large, deep slab summer avalanches to be occur. Cornices and rockfall are the also obvious hazards during a heat wave, so avoid gully routes and all places with overhead hazard.
The best choices for climbing will be steep alpine rock routes, ridges, or low angled mountaineering routes with nothing overhead. Although melting quickly, a fair amount of snow remains up high. Despite this, patches of bare ice are starting to show (e.g: Aberdeen toe), and shaded routes like the NW Ridge of Sir Donald are pretty much good-to-go, although you will walk through a lot of snow patches. Expect the upper portion of most routes to still hold snow, so start early and hope any snow you cross is still frozen.
Today the fire hazard went to EXTREME in Banff National Park – so avoid campfires and do everything you can to avoid any kind of ignition. Feel free to speak to your camping neighbours who also might need a reminder to take it easy with any fires right now.
And the rivers are high too! Any trip plans that require fording a river, you might want to think very carefully about your timing. Early morning is the best opportunity for lower water, but don’t expect it to look the same when you return later in the day.
Stock up on sunscreen and water, and have a great weekend out there.
ACMG Mountain Guide