The past week brought a bit of a change to the high country with a dusting of snow in the Rockies and higher parts of the Columbia mountains on Monday.
Up to 10 cm of new snow fell above 2400 m with some small drifts developing in the higher glaciated terrain of Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefields, and a good dusting on the high peaks around Rogers Pass. Most solar aspects have now melted off, but snow persists on shaded aspects and you can expect some verglass and slippery conditions on higher North facing alpine climbs. Routes further south and west in the Rockies and Columbia mountains will be drier and warmer.
Glacier travel is just a bit slower with the new snow masking narrow crevasses and irregularities on the surface of the ice. Keep the glacier rope snug in these spots. With the hard freezes and little snow, crampons will be needed for any glacier travel. Not enough snow for any significant avalanche hazard at this point. Some rockfall has been observed as the new snow melts and the first real freeze-thaw cycle of the season occurs, but things are generally frozen in place on shaded aspects during the early parts of the day.
After minor weather disturbances on Friday as some fronts pass through, a ridge of high pressure is building bringing sunny warm afternoon temperatures to the mountains for the weekend and start of next week. Overnight treeline temps remain at or below freezing for much of the Rockies and Columbias with afternoon highs in the teens or a bit higher.
With the current forecast it should be an excellent opportunity to get out in the moutains for alpine and rock routes on solar aspects, or travel up high and enjoy the stunning fall colors. Just remember that starting tomorrow there is more night than day, so plan your start/finish times, and pack clothing/lighting to deal with that.
Happy equinox and enjoy the fall climbing season!
ACMG Mountain Guide