ACMG Ski Guide Exam (Dec 14th-17th)
Rockies Banff - Yoho Region
The TAP Ski Guide exam spent four days ski touring in the Banff - Yoho Region from Dec 14-17.
The week consisted of four overcast days with a gradual rise in temperatures. The big story was the wind picking up on Tuesday and continuing to blow from the southwest providing moderate to intense snow transport in the alpine and exposed treeline areas. These winds are forecast to increase over the next few days, continuing to build wind slabs and cornices.
The avalanche hazard deteriorated through the week, with wind being the driving factor. 20-40cm of storm snow sits on a variety of surfaces including previous wind affect, sun crusts, and facetted older snow, and is being blown into new wind slabs as you read this. Snow amounts at treeline varied from 90-120cm along the 93N to 120-180cm in the Little Yoho area. The Nov 5 rain crust was found down 1m on all aspects below 2500m and appeared to have facetted out in thin areas.
We were limited in our alpine observations due to poor visibility but we observed numerous loose dry avalanches out of steep terrain throughout the last four days. During the rope rescue assessment today in the Crowfoot glades area we witnessed a large avalanche coming off Crowfoot mountain driven by wind, but it was difficult to tell if they were loose snow or wind slabs.
Mt Field- Still many alders in the main path, it would benefit from a little more snow down low.
Cirque Peak Via Crystal Ridge - The Cirque north couloir is still rugged and requires a full 60m rappel. The bergschrund at the bottom is bridged and passable.
Little Crowfoot - We decided against skiing the ramp on the west side of Little Crowfoot yesterday due to overhead hazard with continued wind and poor visibility. There was good skiing on the glacier that was beginning to get wind affected, with an average snow depth of 130cm.
Mt. Olive - Travel through the canyon to Bow Hut is in good shape, with 150-200cm snow depth on the Bow Glacier.
Ogden Shoulder/Paget Glades - Good coverage for this time of year, with considerably more storm snow than on the 93N.
Surprise Pass - Good skiing existed on sheltered aspects, but windward features had abundant spooky wind slabs. One of the slide paths on the back side of Fairview had debris from a recent Na sz 2 avalanche. The main Surprise pass slide path has been heavily skied and would benefit from some new snow.
Overall, a great early season week of ski touring in the Rockies!
Examiners: Jeff Relph, Mike Adolph