Ski Conditions

Ski Guide Exam April 14-20

Lake Louise Region

Ski Conditions

Two groups of candidates spent the past week in the field. We visited Observation Sub Peak, Cirque Peak, Mt Hector, Cathedral Mountain, Popes Peak, Niblock-Whyte Col, the Lake Louise sidecountry, and completed the Chickaboom Traverse. We generally avoided overhead as well as large solar features unless they were scoured to the crust. On northerly aspects we skied steep terrain.

Cool and stormy conditions for the first half of the week producing up to 60cm of snow. When winds were blowing it was generally from the south through west including a period of strong to extreme westerlies on the 17th. Later in the week we had unsettled weather and one day of spring before the current storm. Freezing levels were at their highest the final three days as they climbed to ~2300m with little recovery the last night.

Snowpack and Avalanches:
Numerous crusts (March 15, April 15, April 20) up to 2000m except solar aspects where they exist to ridgetop. Variable snow amounts from 0-80cm found on the crusts depending on wind transport. As soon as the sun came out or temperatures rose, our concern for snow sliding on these layers increased significantly. We had little concerns on polar aspects with windslabs being generally unreactive later in the week. We had a skier accidental and two skier controlled windslabs to size 1.5 in the first half of the week and observed a few natural windslabs to size 1.5 from that period as well. Cornices were large and growing. We observed a size 2 cornice fall off Cirque Peak that likely failed on the 19th.

Ski Conditions:
Crusts and wind effect provide a variable skiing surface in many locations. Breakable in some places, supportive in others. Polar aspects above 2000m seemed to have survived heat and wind quite well so far and ski pen is anywhere from 15-30cm.

More on Objectives:
-Cirque North Couloir: more than usual snow on the SW ridge allows enjoyable bootpacking to the summit; 30m down to the snow in the couloir but 45m before you're at a stance you can reasonably ski from, lots of snow on the glacier though the sag over the bergshrund is still visible across the majority of the bowl, the creek which is normally avoided below treeline is well filled and skiable but open holes remain in places
-Hector: ascent gully is currently very well filled in, some water ice in the gulley but we bootpacked without crampons or axes; highly variable snow amounts on the glacier with as little as 10cm on the upper slopes of the glacier especially on the climbers left hand side; there was a 2 pin anchor with cord and a biner 15m above the summit rock step on the climbers right which was in good condition and we used it to belay and lower
-Niblock: as little as 40cm on the lower glacier improves as you climb up into the cirque to 2.5m+, you can currently skin and ski from within 20m of the col
-Chickaboom: no visible crevasses in the ski line from the pass
-Ski Hill Sidecountry: very few tracks out there, yet
-Cathedral: a 'dry' crossing for Cataract Brook exists at low water 75m downstream of the creekbed which is used to ascend the trees on the other side

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.