Summer has finally arrived in the Columbia and Rocky Mountains! The drastically warmer temperatures, coupled with significant rainfall to mountain top last week, have rapidly changed conditions with noticeable differences from day to day.
While many higher elevation rock climbing objectives on sunny aspects are coming into shape, the shady aspects still need some time to dry out.
The weather forecast varies a bit throughout the region, with small amounts of precipitation possible on either Saturday or Sunday, depending on location. Although no thunderstorms are currently forecast, they should be front of mind this time of year. The main weather-related concern is the high freezing levels and what was a lack of overnight freezes despite the clear skies.
Of particular note, two full-depth (>2m) avalanches were reported in the last week - one in the O’Hara area and one on the Pigeon Feathers in the Bugaboos (see attached photo). Both ran on glacier ice, likely due to the rapid warming, high freezing levels and significant precipitation from last week. These avalanches are in the low likelihood/ high consequence category and are extremely difficult to predict. Fingers crossed that the continued warm temperatures will accelerate the transition to a more ‘normal’ summer snowpack. There are also many lingering and now weak and sagging cornices lurking about on high north and east aspects. Many groups in the Bugaboos carried a transceiver, shovel and probe last week.
Travel on glaciers continues to be good for this time of year, but the snow bridges are starting to show the effects of the transition to summer.
All this running water also tends to get rocks moving! During a five-day trip to the Bugaboos last week, we witnessed several spontaneous rockfall events, most of which occurred later in the day due to warming temperatures (more than one metre of snow melted during this timeframe). The creeks were also swelling significantly during the day.
All in all, conditions in the alpine are pretty good right now. There should be some great climbing this weekend with some planning, early starts, and a healthy respect for large, snow-covered features.
ACMG Mountain Guide