Rockies - Banff and Yoho Parks
The ACMG Training and assessment program just finished a module of apprentice ski exams in the Rockies. The cold weather was a major factor in both our daily decision making and our weekly plan. We stayed flexible and chose sunny, sheltered objectives. We postponed two days of our course while the mercury dipped to day-long levels of below -30*C. As a result, our observations for this MCR only reflect the most current conditions from the past two days of travel in the Little Yoho region which included tours in the Hamilton Lake/Emerald Peak area and Mt Field.
Generally, the cold temps and surface faceting have made for variable, but often excellent ski quality. The wind effect at treeline and the alpine is best described as variable - from none to isolated pockets of hard slab/wind crust. We consider the windslab avalanche problem to be specific to immediate lee features but with moderate (including periods of intense) snow transport all day today we expect this problem to be deteriorating. In the Mt. Field area today we observed several natural loose dry avalanches to size 1.5, several wind slabs to Sz 1.5, and one size 2 natural cornice failure that triggered a windslab (30-50cm deep;40m wide; and ran ~400m).
We noticed a few cornice failures throughout our travels this week and while that wasn't a classified avalanche problem it was very much on our mind.
Happy Skiing - bring on the warmth.
(attached photo shows cornice failure and wind effect on Mount Field)
Marc Piché and the ASGE Candidates