We all knew it was going to happen eventually. The long dry Autumn has turned towards winter and there is snow down low in the Southern Rockies, around treeline in the Columbia Mountains at Kicking Horse, Panorama and RMR and a report of 15 cms at Rogers Pass. Not many observations available at this time of year but without getting too technical we can probably forecast that it is slippery and chilly in a lot of places.
What does this snow mean besides slippery and chilly? Until the system passes and we get more observations it is hard to say. My first concern is what will happen to this first snow on the glaciers? I will be watching to see if just sits on the ice without further loading and eventually forms a shallow weak layer in places on the ice? Or does it continue snowing enough to just start building a snowpack?
If we continue to get snow we may soon have the classic early season problems of poorly bridged crevasses, shark infested early season skiing, thin ice and loose snow avalanches and windslabs in lee features.
After months of warm and dry it is easy to get lazy about carrying warm layers and not thinking about icy terrain. Days are short, nights are long and even 2 pair of shorts and 2 t-shirts are not going to cut it anymore. Keep thinking about skiing and ice climbing, dust off and sharpen some tools but for big lines up and down a little patience could be a good thing. Share any reports on the MIN as we are all short on observations but long on ambitions!
ACMG Mountain Guide