Typical late spring conditions prevail in the Rockies and Columbias.
The Rockies have been drier than the Columbias over the past week, with showery weather prevalent in the western ranges for much of the week. Areas of the front ranges of the Rockies were mostly dry after a some heavy rainfalls last weekend.
The coming week looks reasonable, some showers (perhaps rain in western ranges) on the weekend, then drier weather prevails after that. Temperatures start heating up with valley bottoms reaching the mid twenties. Overnight freezes are still expected in the alpine.
There is still plenty of snow on trails at treeline and above.
Most rock climbing venues are climbable. There is still snow on higher elevation routes such as Louis. Rock peaks in the Rogers Pass and the Bugaboos still sound snow covered as well, but something facing south or west like Mt Tupper may be getting close.
Scrambles on the east slopes are mostly dry but with significant snow patches.
Alpine snow and ice route conditions are good with a freeze, making easy travel across glaciers and up faces with early starts and finishes. Without a freeze, expect wallowing, snow avalanche hazard, and weak snow bridges over crevasses.
Some people are carrying skis on their backs to reach the snow. Travel up onto the Columbia Icefield on skis sounds reasonable.
Some rock climbs may still have wet patches from recent rains and snow melt. Loose rock left over from winter melt-freeze action will be an issue as well.
Rock scrambles will have rockfall hazards, especially where snow is present.
Wet loose and slab avalanches, and cornices are the major alpine hazards when temperatures warm up. Cornices have been notably large, EG atop the Andromeda Strain. The nights are short, so the morning warm up happens very early. Routes will be getting sun by 5 AM.
We are also into lightning season as evidenced from the storms over the past few weekends.
This time of year I think about heading for:
- normal early season rock climbing objectives
- snow and ice routes with early starts on cold mornings
- front range scrambles
- ski mountaineering objectives on high icefields
- alpine rock climbing
- high elevation hiking trails
Be patient, summer is coming.