Coast Range Regional Summary - August 20, 2020

The last weeks have provided a wild difference in conditions depending on where you are on the Coast. It really couldn't be more different between South and North Coasts. I've been working in the Cambrian Range near Stewart where it feels like it hasn't stopped raining in August yet! Roads are washed out, creeks are flooded, glaciers and snow are melting rapidly and I've been wearing long underwear every day. Meanwhile on the South Coast the heat has been record breaking! It's hard to believe it's all one province sometimes.

The sun and heat couldn't last forever and a bit of rain (20mm) today is a small blessing for tinder-dry areas that are ready to go (or already are going) up in smoke. But looking ahead, the weekend forecast still doesn't seem too bad with a return of some sun and, thankfully, cooler temperatures. As you plan and prepare for weekend adventures, bear in mind that recent conditions reports from last weekend may no longer be relevant due to the rapid snowmelt and changing glaciers from the heat. Drastically hot weather like this packs a punch with crevasses and moats yawning awake as their snowy blankets melt off. Areas that haven't yet been snow-free are now producing more rockfall, and this will be especially true with more incoming rain to slick up the mountainsides. Where we've been working near Stewart, we've always noted an increased frequency of rockfall once the rain picks back up from a brief lull. That being said, the Cambrian Range is forcing me to embrace new definitions of what "chossy" means...lots of loose rock, if it could even be called rock.

The upper reaches of the Coastal alpine still hold lots of snow on the glaciers but mid-elevation is opening up and snouts of glaciers sport bare ice. A recent report from an ascent of Wedge shows great snow coverage up high but lots of exposed ice at and above the lake. There may have been a time when unroped travel on glaciers was "a thing" but another accident on Garibaldi shows that crevasse falls happen and we're getting to the time of year where navigating glaciers become trickier.

As you think of weekend plans, don't forget to pack your bug and/or bear spray. The bugs have been heinous in areas in the South Coast spared from rain, mostly in the upper reaches of the Sea to Sky corridor and in the subalpine elevations. What more to compliment your mosquito infested, off-trail bushwhack than a grumpy grizzly defending its newly acquired berry patch? Huckleberry season is in full swing and hungry berry bears are busy fattening up for winter. The recent bear attack near Lillooet drives this point home.

Another thing occurred to me this week about the people we meet in the mountains these days. This may be the only time in our lifetime when everyone we will meet at the crag, on the trail, or even driving on the roads for that matter, is in some form or fashion Canadian. I love the diversity of people visiting from all over the world but this is a special time, also, when everyone we meet out there shares in our country. And I really like my fellow Canadians. So it's a great perspective and reminder to be kind to all we see sharing the mountains with us this weekend. They are, after all, in a very real sense our neighbours.

Have a safe weekend and don't forget to check out the BC AdventureSmart app. A little planning ahead could save SAR some effort.

Andrew Councell
IFMGA 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.