Climbing Conditions

Climbing Conditions

The Apprentice Alpine Guide Exam candidates just finished a 10-day period in the Bugaboos and Bow Valley.

The week started with unsettled weather and a low pressure system bringing cold temps, westerly winds and moisture including snow up high in the Bugaboos. On the 28th, a high pressure ridge moved in bringing mainly clear skies through the 3rd with warmer temps (up to 29°) and no further precipitation. Winds stayed steady from the SW, light to moderate.

In the Bugs, from the 25-29 of August we found a mature summer snowpack with good glacier travel on well-bridged crevasses. Short-lived overnight freezes made for easy morning travel, and the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col is in poor condition and requires a good freeze and higher risk tolerance to move through some very unstable terrain. Our groups climbed the Pigeon Feathers in both directions, the traverse of Marmolata, the Kain Route on Bugaboo, Pigeon West Ridge and the Crescent Towers Traverse N-S starting with Lion’s Way. In general, routes are in good shape with exposed bergschrunds and at times wet lichen.

Moving to the Bow Valley from the 31st of August to the 2nd of September, we found warmer, drier conditions on all objectives. We climbed Eisenhower Tower and Brewer Buttress on Castle, where we found no water on Eisenhower but a faint trickle on Goat Plateau on the approach to the ACC hut. We improved the descent gully through the upper tier of Castle, which should make for easier travel in future. Next, we moved to the Valley of the 10 Peaks where we climbed Mt Bowlen with one group climbing each of the Schiesser Ledges and the Perren Route, descending the opposite. The river crossing is now very manageable in morning and afternoon, and the glaciers are primarily dry except for steeper aspects seeing less sun, making for easier travel. No snow remains on either the Perren or Schiesser accesses to the Neil Colgan hut. We finished on Yamnuska, climbing Kahl Wall and Forbidden Corner. Nothing significant to report.

Overall, the main hazards we managed were crevasses opening up with softening bridges in the warm sun, and a good deal of rock sitting on glaciers notably near Mt Fay and Mt Little and on the lower tongue of the Bugaboo Glacier. Rockfall and loose rock were present as always, and were managed accordingly. Expect the conditions to change rapidly especially with the current heat wave and keep assessing hazards appropriately.

Stay safe out there!

Posted on behalf of the 2022 AAGE candidates

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.