Winter is knocking hard at the door this weekend with a significant storm watch. An arctic front will push cold air through through the Rockies and will be mixing with a low in Washington to produce colder than usual temperatures and locally 20-30cm in alpine regions in the Waterton, Kananasaskis, Canmore and Banff regions. Temperatures will go below zero for the next few days and most objectives both rock and alpine will most likely be shut down until the weather settles.
Areas West and North of these will see quite a bit less snow and more typical fall like conditions. There have been reports from places like Lake Ohara that there are already soft wind slabs forming in the alpine, and this will be true for most alpine regions in the Rockies and Columbias. There will be many spots that will have avalanche danger and managing this as well as wearing avalanche gear should be at the forefront of every climber venturing into the high alpine. Take it out of the closet, test it and wear it. Another common hazard this time of year, crevasses will start to have thin snow bridging as snow gets drifted over. It a classic time to punch through into a hidden hole. Roping up and probing for these crevasses is common practice under these conditions.
Alpine water ice is just in its infancy and we wont likely see anything climbable until we have some days of melt/freeze, but it is coming. There may be some ice on obscure objectives way up in the alpine nether regions, but it will take someone to walk up there and report back! As well, I'm sure some people are talking about skiing in hushed voices, but I can't go there just yet.
So watch the updated weather forecasts for your area when planning a trip. Besides the regions which will be hit by the storm, a good option could be low elevation rock venues, many of which are still dry and are being climbed as temperatures permit. Besides that, It might be wise to see what this storm brings before heading into the big alpine.
Have a good weekend.
ACMG Mountain Guide