ACMG Mountain Conditions Summary for the Rockies and Columbia Mountains issued October 26th, 2017

This past week provided a mixed bag of early winter weather in the Rockies and Columbia mountains with steady but small doses of precipitation, cold overnight lows, and lots of wind to transport the fresh snow.

It's time to be carrying avalanche gear if you are considering heading into the alpine. Remember to do a quick beacon check and companion rescue refresher with your buddies before you head out. The recent tragedy in Montana is a sobering reminder to us all.

A highlight of the week was the report of a lucky group of six skiers on Redline Glacier south of Mt. Farnham. They triggered and were involved in a very large avalanche (size 3) that partially buried two of the group members. Fortunately nobody was injured and they self rescued and got out safely. The avalanche was full depth, 95 cm, to the glacier ice and the failure plane was facets right at the bottom of the snowpack.

To listen to the stories circulating about the ski touring this week you'd almost think it was mid-winter. But really, it's still October -- there's not a lot of snow out there and you're going to have to be very keen to find good turns! High on the glaciers or sheltered alpine you might find 90 cm in the Columbia mountains and 70 cm in the Rockies. Below treeline is still not viable for skiing, which is not to say that people aren't doing it. If you do head out you'll have to work hard and brace yourself for the typical shallow snow hazards -- crevasses, rocks and stumps to name a few.

I have heard precious little about ice so far, except for a couple of parties who say they've found good climbing but are reticent on details. Late October means the early performers have started coming into condition but for the most part it's still slim pickings. So to speak.

Hiking in the front ranges and lower elevations is still very doable. Today I guided a party on the Yamnuska traverse and it was almost entirely snow-free, even on the sheltered north aspects. Meanwhile, the south-facing rock was warming as the clouds parted and the sun started beating down in the late afternoon.

The forecast going into the weekend looks great across the west with sun and double-digit highs forecast. I'm sure there will be at least a few parties firing a rope up a sunny multipitch crag, while others carve (a few) turns, slam stubbies into their favourite early season stashes, or take to the trails by foot or bike. One of those multi-sport weekends where you could just about do it all if you're determined!

Tom Wolfe
Mountain Guide, ACMG/IFMGA

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.