Ski Conditions

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Ski Conditions

Madeleine Martin-Preney and I spent January 20-27th guiding a group based out of the Alexandra Cabin (1280m) on the west slopes of The Rocky Mountains. Despite the unusually shallow snowpack, we had an amazing ski week with excellent ski quality almost everywhere.

* Weather
It was mostly overcast and often snowing with layers of valley fog and cloud, but minimal wind. We had a couple brief periods of clearing with minimal solar input mid week. We had alternating rain and snow as we left the cabin this afternoon.

* Snowpack
The snowpack is shallower than normal, with 100-200cm snow depth observed. Our primary avalanche concern was a buried sun crust we probed down 60cm on southerly aspects over 35 degrees, so we avoided large slopes with these characteristics.

* Snow conditions
We had 20cm of storm snow accumulate during the week at the cabin elevation, with around 30-40cm in the alpine. There was negligible wind effect observed up to our high point around 2500m, resulting in good ski quality everywhere there was enough of a base. This storm snow overlies facets or hard windslabs from the recent arctic outflow. Trail breaking often felt like a facet treadmill, sometimes breaking through up to our waists or deeper when we got too close to rocks or trees.
Despite high freezing levels being forecast, we had dry snow down to the cabin the first half of the week and moist snow up to 1600m on solar aspects at the end of the week.

* Glacier Conditions
We only travelled on the bottom of the Wild West Glacier, where we found 120-200cm of snow. All of the glaciers had a lot more visible sags and open crevasses than in previous years at this time.

* Avalanche conditions
We saw the crown line of what we suspect was a size 2 persistent slab on a 45 degree hanging snowfield on the north face of Lens Peak, and had one small (size 1) ski cut failing within the storm snow. Apart from hearing regular icefall avalanches (as per normal), we did not observe any other new avalanches.

Hope you have a great winter!

Alex Geary
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.