April 17-23, 2022
While working for Icefall Lodge, I recently guided their hut to hut Icefall Traverse from the Mons Hut to the Rostrum Cabin. Unsettled weather and variable conditions were the theme of the trip. We started the trip at the tail end of a ridge and experienced firm/sastrugi surfaces as we crossed the Lyell Icefield. From April 18-20 we received nearly 40cm of storm snow accompanied by moderate to strong variable winds.
Initially, on April 20 and 21 the storms slabs on solar aspects were reactive to skier traffic to size 1.5 on the April 18 MFcr. We skied dry wind affected powder of the summit of Kemmel Mountain to 2700m on April 21, below that solar aspects were moist.
Freezing levels rose on April 22 and 23 and a supportive crust developed to 1850m on solar aspects and there was a thin crust to 2400m on all aspects. Above that on high north aspects we found nicely settled powder skiing.
Our primary avalanche concern were cornices and we observed several natural cornice releases to size 2.5. On April 22 and 23, we also observed daytime warming/solar induced avalanche cycles to size 2.5 on solar aspects.
In areas probed on the Lyell, Kemmel, Diamond glaciers, there was over 350cm and the crevasses appeared to be well bridged. However some more exposed areas appeared to be scoured down to rock and ice.
While it is feeling like spring in the valley bottom, it has yet to transition to spring in the higher mountains. Travel at lower elevations is starting to become more difficult as creeks are starting to open up and features melt out.