The snow is slowly starting to accumulate up high and a few smears of ice are starting to form in cold, shaded areas, but we are still waiting for winter to really begin.
The snowline in the Banff and Kananaskis areas dropped down to about 1800 m today. The valley bottoms remain relatively snow free, but still harbor some snow from last week's storms in shaded areas. A similar story is found in the Southern Rockies and throughout most of the Columbia mountains with current snow levels down into treeline.
We have had reports of anywhere from 20-50 cm of snow in alpine and glaciated terrain throughout the region, just enough to start covering narrow crevasses and small boulders, but not enough to make travel on skis a real option. A few people have been out earning some October turns but the ratio of hiking to skiing is quite high, as are the chances of smoking a rock, so plan accordingly.
Avalanche hazard is still fairly limited but there is enough snow in high alpine gullies to start sluffing or forming small thin wind slabs that could push you around. Consider making a MIN post if you gather some current snowpack and avalanche condition information.
A few people have been exploring some ice smears and alpine rock routes in the Rockies and Bugaboos, but in general, conditions are still fairly poor for ice climbing. Bring lots of short ice screws and a rock rack for any ice attempts, and be ready to make anchors in different places than usual if the ice just isn't there.
Hiking and scrambling are pretty slippery right now with the new snow. Bring cleats, poles, and good footwear to make the trip more successful this week. A headlamp and lots of warm clothes are also a good idea.
Low elevation south facing rock climbing is still possible if you time it right, and fitness hikes, dry tooling or biking are all good shoulder season options to get outside.
The Banff Mountain Film festival also starts tomorrow. Many of the shows are available virtually if you don't have tickets but still want to get inspired by the offerings.
It looks like a series of small storms over the next week for most of the mountain regions so have patience and enjoy the winter preparations while the snowpack starts building and the ice forms!
ACMG Mountain Guide