Ski Conditions

2 photos

Ski Conditions

I guided a four day trip onto the Columbia Icefields, accessing via the Athabasca glacier and exiting via the Saskatchewan glacier. Our hope was to climb Mt. Columbia, but white-out conditions negated that objective. It was still wintry above 2600 metres with up to 20 cm of new snow during the period and some cold temperatures until the 3rd when it warmed up drastically.

We followed the usual ascent route, traversing climber's left between the 1st and 2nd icefalls to avoid the overhead sérac hazard off Snow Dome. A few parties in front of us climbed directly through the 2nd icefall on the right, exposing themselves to the séracs. Zoom photo to see their tracks. At our lunch break at the far end of the traverse, I was commenting that the other parties had a much higher risk tolerance than I, and a few minutes later we observed two successive icefalls 20 minutes apart off Snow Dome (photo). The first one most certainly crossed their tracks, and perhaps the second as well. Thankfully, the other parties were far ahead at this point and not in danger. If you choose NOT to traverse, be informed that sérac fall is frequent and the results could be disastrous!

No surprise there is excellent coverage with 3m20+ on the Icefields and major glaciers. However the lower Saskatchewan ranged from 55-150 cm so we roped up through some sections.

We had a weak refreeze the night of 3rd May, so an early start was needed to negotiate the Castleguard glacier in white-out conditions in time to get out before losing support in the valley bottom. The most straightforward exit off the lower Sask glacier is centre left.


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.