On Dec. 29th I guided an ascent of Coire Dubh Integrale on Loder Peak (near Exshaw, AB) with fellow guide Maarten Van Haeren and our guests. Overall we found the route to be in good shape with reasonable snow conditions, mostly dry/clean rock, and minimal ice climbing beyond the first pitch.
We found the snow travel to be a fairly supportive but caution was exercised to assess the snow and limit our potential avalanche risk. Hand shears along the route produced resistant planar shears in the top 40cm, which meant that careful route finding and team positioning was required to limit our avalanche risk. Entering ‘the narrows’, the section following the 1st ice pitch, we probed 2m to a harder crust layer that was 10cm above the ground. We felt that on this day the snow conditions supported our choice to continue climbing. Now in saying that do know that isolated slab avalanche potential does exist on this route, so choose your day wisely, bring avy gear, and be prepared to turn around if you do not like what you find. See pics.
On Dec. 28th I guided an ascent of Guinness Gully and as one would expect for this time of year, the route is in fine shape. Of note, this route was NOT bombed in the recent avalanche control work. A MIN was entered for the conditions found that day.
Happy New Year!
Ridgeline Guiding Services