Climbing Conditions

Climbing Conditions

"Hot and dusty, snow skills are rusty, getting kinda lusty for rock that is trusty" more or less sums up the current alpine scene at Lake O'Hara.

The extended heat has obviously left the alpine snow free except for very high shaded locations. As you can probably imagine the melt has meant lots of exposed unstable rock around the Glacier edges and on all the presently snow and ice free faces.

On Friday I agreed to attempt Glacier pk via some dry ledges on the Glacier pk side of the Glacier/Ringrose couloir. Around 6 am the ledges looked reasonable. However the big face on Ringrose that threatens the approach and the ledges had, to me, surprisingly large wet sections on it. No snow above so I could only guess that all the water was coming from melting ice/permafrost under the face. I was imaging a massive rockfall starting a Tsunami in Lake Oesa and we got the hell out of there.

Abbotts Pass is currently closed under a National Parks Order due to rockfall hazard, the West Face of Lefroy looks terrible and the South Ridge of Victoria keeps getting weirder so there are several excellent reasons to stay away from there.

Victoria is possibly climbable from Huber Glacier but expect a very unpleasant section of Ice and gravel to get from the Glacier onto the summit ridge.
Hungabee direct West ridge could be ok but if the big West face looks wet at all I would stay away from it for rockfall concerns.
Odaray SE is climbable but my main concern would be rockfall from Feuz Pk while approaching the Glacier.
Cathedral is climbable but expect lots of bare ice and some awkward transitions along the summit ridge from what I have heard.

"Normal" rockfall is my primary concern these days. However I am being conscious of really minimizing my time under the big faces. I would especially be very careful about where I camp or take long breaks. Unusual events happen in unusual conditions.

One of these days, weeks or years we are going to get a real rain event. This will certainly trigger a big rockfall cycle especially on moderately steep dirt slopes with lots of rocks perched on them. That would be a good day to find some safe high ground in a valley like Opabin, listen to the rockfall and be grateful for any moisture we get.

Larry Stanier
ACMG Mountain Guide

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.