The drought continues, with no end in sight. Expect dry conditions on all objectives with snow, ice, and glacier routes continuing to have rough conditions.
No precipitation is forecast over the next week for anywhere in the Rockies or Columbias. There should be overnight freezes in all areas. This stunning fall will continue and it is hard to complain, except that it hasn't really rained since...June?!? I can't really remember.
Dry. That means great hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing once it warms up mid-morning.
That also means rugged conditions anywhere you may normally expect snow and ice this time of year. Unfortunately many classic routes that in the past would be good in the fall no longer hold permanent névé or ice. With this year's dry conditions and relatively warm temperatures it doesn't sound like much water ice has formed either, and there certainly is no autumn snowpack that has built up. Let's hope next spring has better alpine conditions as it seems like many routes are now seasonal snow and ice climbs, rather than features that can be climbed anytime there are good overnight freezes.
Rockfall is always a concern after a long, dry, hot summer where rocks that have been buried under snow and ice for millennia are now exposed and unstable. Cold temperatures will not do a whole lot to mitigate this hazard. Beware of windy days and two- and four-legged creatures above you.
Nights are long, cold, and dark. Carry a headlamp with spare batteries.
The last hazard I will list here is of a different type. Alpine climbs are showing drastic changes every year. Beware of route descriptions that may be out of date even if they seem current. Even your own recent experiences may not be a good indicator as to what you will actually find. Head into routes new and old to you with your eyes wide open.
For this week I am considering:
- Scrambles, hikes, and lower elevation rock climbs. The fall colours are still fabulous.
- Sunny alpine rock.
- Straightforward glacier travel with minimal overhead hazard
I am avoiding:
- Snow/ice routes (or what were once snow/ice routes)
- Complex glaciers
There seems to be at least one more week of amazing weather in store for us. Get out there and enjoy it! I have a feeling that once the weather does turn we could be in for a doozy of a storm.