ACMG Mountain Conditions Summary for Rockies and Columbia Mountains October 21st, 2016

Winter continues to tighten its grip on the Rockies and the Columbia Mountains. Still very limited sources of information but it is possible to at least make some educated guesses about current conditions.

In the Columbia Mountains, people have been getting some good skiing in the Monashees and Selkirks alpine. It is, of course, still very rough in most places below treeline with the usual stumps, rocks and open creeks. There is probably not enough observations yet for anyone to have a real grasp of what the avalanche hazard is across the ranges. But, I have seen a couple of reliable reports of crust/facet layers and buried surface hoar as potential weak layers and recently there has been some moderate winds which will have moved some snow around. The answer to all this early season uncertainty is good terrain choices. Make sure you REALLY understand what is going on within the snowpack on any big steep features before committing or, simply enjoy the cruising on the moderate angle terrain and save your body for when the skiing gets really good and the hazards are better understood.

In the Rockies there has likely been more high winds and some new snow along the divide. Really high winds probably in the Southern part of the Rockies. Skiing is certainly possible on the low angle smooth terrain along the divide but all the same caveats as listed above including poorly bridged crevasse for the Columbia Mountains apply in the Rockies. Below treeline skiing is probably still really desperate except for some really smooth features on someone else's fat skis.

With those high winds in the Rockies there is likely to be significant new cornice growth and windslabs in any gullies or lee features. This will be a concern for ice climbers, skiers and scramblers for awhile.

From the Parks Canada weather stations it appears that it has stayed below freezing for the past few days so ice will be continuing to grow.

Forecast for the weekend looks like a mix of cold, grey skies and sprinkles of snow everywhere. More ice in the Rockies and more skiing in the Columbias? That sounds familiar.

Larry Stanier
ACMG Mountain Guide

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.