ACMG Mountain Conditions Summary for the Rockies and Columbias Mountains issued May 20th, 2021

Another mixed bag of transitional weather and conditions is in store for the May long weekend.

The current weather pattern affecting the Rockies and Columbia mountains is upslope in nature - meaning that the farther north and west you find yourself, the better the weather will be. Overnight temperatures are consistently below freezing throughout the forecast zone, while the daytime highs, precipitation and cloud cover vary greatly. Check your local forecast.

The southern Rockies are getting the brunt of the snowfall, with up to 30cm at treeline in Waterton Park and only a few centimetres at the same elevation in the Columbia Icefields and Rogers Pass.

These will vary greatly depending on location, but the main themes this weekend are:

For those still looking for spring skiing on the high glaciers or alpine climbing, there is potential for new, isolated slab avalanches and wet snow avalanches as the days warm up.

As the winter snowpack shrinks, snow bridges have begun to sag. This new snow may make these sagging bridges more challenging to see and avoid.

If your local forecast is conducive to rock climbing, beware that the recent precipitation and saturation from the melting winter snowpack have created prime conditions for rockfall. Whether cragging or looking for multi-pitch adventures, be on the lookout for newly loosened holds and natural rockfall from above.

From ticks to bears - they are up and at’em in the mountains of western Canada. You know what to do!

It can be challenging to decide what to do in the spring, and this weather forecast will only make it more difficult in some zones. Depending on your location, there is likely some good hiking, rock climbing, skiing, or alpine climbing to be had if you follow the local forecast and focus on getting the timing right.

The fact that it is a cliche doesn’t make patience any less of a virtue!

Have a great long weekend.

Marc Piché
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.