ACMG Mountain Conditions Summary for Rockies and Columbia Mountains October 13th, 2016

Perhaps because of the cold, grey weather and scattered snowfalls there is even less reports than usual for this time of year. After some sleuthing this morning it sure seems like we have had a recent avalanche cycle in the big mountains and that may continue over the weekend. Lots of September/October snowfalls and some recent high winds so it shouldn't be a big surprise.

From the wise folks at Rogers Pass there is reports of moist spring-like slides in some of the steep gullies east of the summit and numerous loose snow and slab avalanches in the alpine and high treeline west of the summit. Many of these were up to size 2 and all big enough to push a person around and beat them up on the still rough ground cover. At 1905m on the west side of Rogers Pass there is around 30cm of snow on the ground with a crust near the ground and another crust mid pack. Some surface hoar was just buried by the last wee snowfall. Snow at the pass (1330m) and the plow trucks are working.

In the Rockies, there was a reliable report from the past two days of avalanches up to size 2 above 2800m on steep north aspects on Storm Mountain(Banff park). Also an unconfirmed report of a small size 2 that may or may not have involved people on the A2(Boundary Glacier-Columbia Icefields). 2nd hand report of shin to isolated thigh deep drifts on the Athabasca North glacier today from a guided party that turned around due to avalanche concerns up to size 2.

There was a crust buried in places in the Rockies alpine around September 30th and there was some surface hoar buried around September 24th. No idea if they still exist or are a concern but it is this uncertainty that is the main problem currently. We have a very low density of observations to base decisions on but given how few people are in the mountains these days, the number of reported avalanches, the recent weather and the forecasted precipitation, it seems like a very conservative approach to the terrain is the only reasonable answer for the next little while. Even in the dry ranges there may be some isolated windslabs that could really spoil your day.

Ice has certainly formed from the precipitation and sustained cold temperatures. The trick will be finding some climbable ice without an avalanche hazard.

People have been skiing on clear days on mostly gentle glaciers and that makes sense. Probably a really poor idea to be traveling on the poorly bridged glaciers without good light unless you want some "real" glacier travel and maybe even crevasse rescue practice.

Fat ice and fat snow is coming but it is very much transition time right now. I have less faith in early season ice and snow, especially when we have so few observations to base our decisions on. When the skies clear again there could be some fine adventure to be had but keep that early season uncertainty in mind for quite awhile yet.

Larry Stanier
ACMG Mountain Guide

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.