Ski Conditions

Wapta icefields April 15-18

Wapta Icefields

Ski Conditions

ACMG TAP group traveled in the Wapta area including Peyto, Bow, Guy, and Balfour Hut from 1900m road level to a high point of 2950m. The group traveled through the Collie Icefall, Rhondda and Habel Summits, Little Crowfoot, Olive North Ridge, and Gordon Southwest Col. HS varied from 60cm in scoured elevated glacial features to 300+cm with an average of ~200cm.

We found good skiing off Habel Peak down to Peyto Glacier and below Olive Col to Bow Glacier. The best skiing was in areas unaffected by NE winds combined with strong katabatic glacier wind. Distribution of snow was variable due to a reverse in wind direction from the previous week.

Our first day was warm (+1.5deg at 2500m) with increasingly cloudy skies before a new system arrived overnight on the 15th. This brought cold temperatures (FL valley bottom), a shift to strong N’ly wind, and ~15cm HST over two days. Cold temperatures (-16deg at 2400m Balfour Hut) and moderate to strong north wind continued through the 18th with clearing skies and convective activity.

Our primary avalanche problem was windslab and we exercised caution in exposed ridgetop features and immediate lees on all aspects due to reverse loading. We saw evidence of two recent natural wind slabs in extreme NE facing terrain (Des Poilus and Jimmy Jr.). The Feb 3 crust-facet/Oct depth hoar persistent weak layer remained a concern but evidence was only noted in extremely steep terrain with large loads (a serac fall on Balfour Glacier). With these problems in mind, we skied moderate alpine slopes up to 35deg and stuck to supported features and deliberately avoided areas of shallow snowpack. Visibility was difficult, further limiting our terrain use. This was primarily a week of travel.

Glacial coverage was low and variable, leaving crevasses exposed, especially in bump-like features and convexities. The Collie Icefall presented the crux of our travels, requiring crossing several well bridged crevasses. Several possible lines exist through the icefall. Many classic routes on the Wapta have new crevasse hazard, including Habel and the Olive-St. Nic Col.

Of note, although we did not travel over the Balfour high col, we observed 3 separate serac falls, one of which came very close to the current uptrack.

Peyto and Bow Lake had >6cm ice allowing for easy travel. Travel at and below treeline was primarily melt-freeze crust with challenging conditions in the trees. Bow Canyon was fast and firm with sufficient coverage on the creek but several open patches of water. Exceeded our 10,000 step goal every day of the trip. Enjoy the spectacular Wapta views!

TAP ASGE candidates

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.