ACMG Mountain Conditions Summary for the Rockies and Columbia Mountains. October 12th, 2018

The keen interest everyone had in skiing last week has precictably tapered off with the drier weather this week. Warmer temperatures and wind have resulted in not the most enticing snowpack for even diehard skiers.

The long range forecast calls for more dry weather across western Canada into next week with rising temperatures. Clear skies and overnight lows in the alpine of well below freezing (possibly down to -15 C), however, mean that mixed alpine and even ice climbing could be coming into good condition very soon.

Recent reports of ice climbing in the Rockies on the high north early performers have suggested that it's not actually too early to start sharpening the tools. But be warned they will be quickly blunted. Ice is still very thin, and unless you're very high and shaded the underlying rock will still be warm and the overlying ice poorly bonded. An attempt on the Oracle on the right side of the Trophy Wall was aborted for these reasons this week.

On the bright side, low elevation rock climbing with a sunny aspect is pretty much good to go again and should only be getting dryer and warmer over the weekend. The interior ranges like the Kootenays got a lot less snow than the Rockies and reportedly they are still running around in flip flops and t-shirts at the crags. Or so they claim to us who are enduring a remarkably chilly early autumn on the east slopes of the Rockies.

If you do decide to get up high, and by that I mean well above treeline, the snowpack is settling out with the mild temperatures. Travel is shaping up to be pretty good, the caveat being that glaciers will be heavily crevassed and poorly bridged. There have been no reports of recent avalanche activity -- a situation which is likely improving if anything -- but with loaded pockets in the 100+cm range, combined with the fact that we always get an October avalanche incident, it's something to keep in mind.

Enjoy the weekend, it looks like it will be a fine one.

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.