Ski Conditions Glacier National Park
The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Training and Assessment Program conducted a portion of the Apprentice Ski Guide Exam in Glacier National Park this past week.
Groups visited the Youngs Peak traverse, Hospital Bowl and Dispatchers Bowl, Bonney Moraines, Tupper Traverse and climbed Castor Peak via Sapphire col.
The weather was mostly clear and warm, with overnight alpine lows in the positives. Crust recovery was decent with clear nights, but daytime warming and solar input meant that we had early starts and early finishes.
We noted natural loose wet activity to sz 2.5 as solar input and temperatures warmed things up in the late mornings/afternoons. Of note were several wet slab avalanches to sz 3 out of steep south and west facing rocky terrain. We also noticed evidence of several cornice failures over the week.
For most of the week, spring melt-freeze conditions were present up to treeline on all aspects and on any solar aspects up to ridge top. Isolated pockets of dry soft snow could be found on polar aspects, however some wind effect was present in the transitional aspects in exposed areas. On Saturday night very little recovery occurred resulting in bands of isothermal snow from approximately 1500-2500m even on polar aspects in-line with the alpine inversion. The April 7 crust was present 30cm down and the March 18th interface is between 60-100cm down.
Other Notable Hazards:
Spring travel conditions are starting to dictate some creative travel management with variable surfaces requiring ski and boot crampons in places. Lower elevation snow surfaces were still receiving an overnight recovery resulting in melt-freeze crusts in the morning turning to moist snow and slush through the day. Descents required careful skiing due to wind effect, varying melt conditions, and valley bottom hazards including open creeks, icy treewells and exposed debris. A group even ran into fresh bear tracks up high in Hospital Bowl confirming for us that indeed spring has sprung.
Darek Glowacki ACMG Mountain Guide on behalf of the
Apprentice Ski Guide Exam candidates.