The ACMG training and assessment program just completed the module 1 portion of the alpine guide exam from July 25th to 29th
Weather: The high pressure ridge moved in on the 25th bringing clear skies and daytime highs in the low 20’s at upper elevations. On the morning of the 26th we were lucky to have a good freeze with freezing levels at 2500m but that did not last. Freezing levels rose to 4400m for the 27th to 29th and temps above 2500m did not cool past 8 degrees.
Climbing objectives and conditions:
July 25th - Back of the Lake rock climbing - perfect, no rockfall noted in the amphitheatre area.
July 26th - Mt Fay - West Ridge - The creek crossing bridge at the end of moraine lake was completely submerged and required fording. I highly recommend water shoes for this. The Perren route was dry. We had supportive travel on the glacier all the way to the col and the bergschrund crossing was easily managed. It looked like the more direct slope that accesses the base of the west ridge was out but that was only inferred from some observed tracks. The ridge itself is completely dry with no need for crampons. The snow was still mostly supportive at 11am and only punchy where it was shallower than 1 meter.
July 27th - Castle Mountain - Lookout Buttress - Excellent conditions with minimal loose rock. There was a trickle of water before the fire lookout and the regular hut water source was flowing. There is still lingering snow on the Brewers descent gulley.
July 28th - Athabasca North Glacier - Significant rockfall hazard with the lack of overnight freezes. Plenty of loose rock waiting to melt out. Our group decided that avoiding this area would be prudent until the temperatures cooled off again.
July 29th - A2 peak via the Boundary Glacier - We climbed the left glacial tongue via the snow gulley on the right. The upper part of the snow gulley has a threatened by some looming rocks but it is possible to keep right and make a short dash to reach the middle of the left tongue at the height of the rock outcrop. The snow gulley is melting out quickly and will likely not last much longer. The middle of the left tongue is mostly free of rocks and we worked to clear out any that remained. Travel on the Boundary Glacier was supportive and the bergschrund was easily managed. We reversed the route for the descent and were happy to be away from the snow and rockfall hazard before 10am.
Rockfall was our biggest concern for the week and we did our best to select routes with minimal hazard. No rockfall was noted on any of our climbing routes but it was certainly very active
elsewhere, especially at the Columbia Icefields.
Avalanches were also a concern throughout the warm up and we stayed away from solar aspects. No avalanches were directly observed but we did receive a report of a loose wet avalanche cycle to size 1.5 in the AA Col area.
All in all it was a great, albeit hot week! Take care to avoid rockfall areas and let things cool off before taking on the bigger snow and ice objectives
Have fun out there!
Mike Adolph, Tim Johnson, Ian Welstead and Kevin Rohn