Snow up high, little down low. In both the Rockies and Columbias you will find more rocks and sticks than snowflakes up to treeline. Above this, you will find a mixed bag of snow depths, but it is surely winter up there and avalanche hazard should be on people’s minds, as well as hitting rocks.
In the Rockies, Kananaskis is reporting 20-30cm on the Spray road, and 50+cm at treeline. Highwood Pass has up to 80cm in the alpine (but highly variable) with unsurprisingly strong winds blowing it all around on Thursday. Wind slab avalanches up to size 2 were noted today by the Kananaskis Public Safety team and lots of smaller loose dry avalanches. In Banff/Yoho/Kootenay there is 50-70cm up high with isolated areas that have blown into 120cm. Jasper is reporting much the same. There has been some early season ice forming but these are all at higher elevations and it is slim pickings so far. People are skiing but as expected, the chance of hitting rocks is high.
In the Columbias it has been wet this past week with much the same pattern as the Rockies. People are skiing in Rogers Pass but it is kind of rugged to get up higher as there is only 10cm at the road level... Fidelity has 75cm at 1900m and up to 1m in the alpine. Visitor Safety mentioned a small avalanche cycle a couple of days ago on the steep terrain of Mt. MacDonald which were thin in width but ran to the fan. They also mentioned snow bridges covering crevasses are thin and it is now hard to tell where the crevasses are which can be tricky to navigate.
The forecast is calling for more snow this weekend with many areas under the influence of an atmospheric river. The Rockies could have 10-20+cm of snow by the end of Saturday, with less further to the East. The Columbias will have high freezing levels (rain down lower) but 30-50cm + up high. Temperatures will start to dip on Saturday night through the earlier part of the next week. It might be time to do some pull-ups, dry tool cragging, or squats in the basement this weekend, and wait to see what next week brings. Traditionally in the Rockies, there has been a close call with ice climbers and avalanches this time of year, so take the avalanche gear out, practise with it, and wear it if you will be exposed to avalanche hazard.
Check avalanche.ca for any updated bulletins. In the Rockies, these bulletins are getting updated as needed at the moment, and many regions in BC will start forecasting later in November.
ACMG Mountain Guide