Ski reports are continuing to trickle in from the Rockies and Columbias, and a few people have been out swinging ice tools in the Rockies...so despite the good mountain biking in the Bow Valley over the last several days, winter has officially arrived.
So far skiing anything below 2000m in the Rockies and about 1800m in the Columbias is largely an exercise in levitation. Above these elevations reports are of a generally supportive snowpack with some good turns to be had in the right places! Still plenty of rocks, stumps, open creeks and thinly bridged crevasses to watch for. Choose smooth planar terrain and tread carefully.
The last 48 hrs have seen between 15 and 25cm of new snow above 2000m in the Rockies with similar amounts in the Columbias. This recent snow arrived with mild temperatures and strong winds, but finished with little wind, so watch for buried wind slabs near ridge crests. Parks Canada weather stations show about 45cm at Bow Summit (2000m) and 70cm at Mt Fidelity (1900m) with increasing amounts at higher elevations. Several reports of between 100-150cm of snow on higher elevation glaciers. A buried rain/melt freeze crust has been reported in some parts of the Purcells and Rockies which is something to keep an eye on, but generally there is still very limited information is available on avalanche conditions. As Larry said last week, make good terrain choices to help deal with the uncertainty in the snowpack, and make sure you REALLY understand what is going on within the snowpack on any big steep features before committing.
Avalanche forecasts are beginning to be produced by Kananaskis Country and Parks Canada and will be updated when possible until the regular reports start in mid November. Look to the MIN for local ski condition reports as well.
There have been a few people exploring the higher elevation waterfall ice in the Rockies with success, though most of the ice below treeline has melted. Probably still best to bring along a bit of rock protection in case it feels different than it looked from the car, and carry plenty of respect for the newly formed thin ice. Typical early season ice venues like Ranger Creek now have enough snow to produce avalanches, so bringing avalanche gear with you to the climbs is a good idea.
The forecast for the weekend is for showery weather starting late Saturday through Sunday, especially in the BC interior, with snow at higher elevations. After this the Rockies looks a bit drier while the showers continue for the interior. Looks like decent conditions for ice to form and the upper elevation snowpack to deepen.
ACMG Mountain Guide