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Conditions in the Canadian Rockies - Jasper Area

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Conditions in the Canadian Rockies - Jasper Area

Postby PellucidWombat » Sun Feb 21, 2010 6:33 pm

So California was way below normal for snow totals until January, and now the mountains have plenty of snow. Same story for Utah, further inland. However, Colorado and the Cascades near Seattle are still quite dry, meaning that in those areas, snow and glacier climbs need to be done much earlier this year. There are definitely some highly varied winter conditions in North America this year!

What have snowfalls been like in Jasper so far? Are snow, ice, and glacier routes likely to be 'in' during the usual times this summer, or should they be attempted about a month or so earlier?

Any info would be great!

Thanks,

Mark Thomas
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Postby Dow Williams » Sun Feb 21, 2010 9:13 pm

The Canadian Rockies are not as easy to measure as the lower 48. May and June can be full of monsoon type activity, which means tons of fresh snow at higher elevations. If you are after glaciated routes to the summit, the extra precip can actually make those routes easier....many alpine rock routes however don't come into good condition until late July. If you live there, there is plenty of trouble to find depending on conditions in different areas and how diverse your skills are. If you are planning specific objectives for a specific period, you would be foolish more than likely to plan a June trip. Very unpredictable weather on the continental divide at that latitude. Hope that helps.
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Postby PellucidWombat » Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:06 pm

Thanks Dow!

Steph Abegg and I were hoping to climb the Kain Face on Mt Robson, so mostly a glacier/ice/snow route. We know that the typical time to climb it is in August, but with the striking differences in snowfall in the lower 48, we didn't want to get caught off guard with our timing.

Apart from the monsoon wildcard to consider, at least for now have the Canadian Rockies (esp. Jasper area) been having a normal snow year?
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Postby Dow Williams » Sun Feb 21, 2010 11:08 pm

I am not up there right now, so will let someone else answer that, but you should be able to find that information on line at the weather services I would assume. You are probably aware that what goes on in Robson Provincial Park could be completely different than any trend further south or even in Jasper. Huge country with varying weather patterns.

As far as missing Robson climbing condition wise, that is not much of an issue. The successful climb of the Kain Face was my introduction to the Canadian Rockies. It is not technically challenging whatsoever. The biggest safety issue revolves around your descent of the face. A friend of mine and well known mountaineer, Barry Blanchard, asked for a chopper to remove he and his clients at the top of the face last year because he did not trust the condition of snow on the face for safe descent. Obviously not all of us have choppers as part of our descent alternatives. Perfect conditions are at the two extremes. Skiing condition, yes it has been skied! and pure ice conditions, setting up V-threads for the rappel. The in between conditions, which is what we found it in, can be a bit harrowing to say the least. We rapped off of snow bollards. The mousetrap, although I thought that was the best climbing of the whole trip, can easily be skirted.

The problem with June is you could find yourself up there with no weather break whatsoever, for 1-2 weeks easily. My wife and have skied into Berg Lake in May and the wardens let us have the cabin to ourselves (not normally an overnight cabin), because not another sole was interested in going back there during that shoulder time of the year, with that much snow.
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Postby KenGlover » Sat Feb 27, 2010 6:12 pm

Kain Face - Great idea!
Yes, August is a good bet for finding good snow conditions above 10K ft in the Cdn Rockies... colder nights usually give fast and safer travelling conditions early in the day on crunchy snow. June can be a pretty rainy/snowy month.

As you probably know, you can save yourselves the long walk back around past Berg Lk by descending the Schwartz ledges route - serac hazard, at least a day shorter, not a walk in the park. This webcam is updated in the summer months and shows the snow conditions on that side: [url]http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/mt_robson/webcam.html

Last summer was very warm and glaciers opened up a lot throughout the range. This winter is pretty dry so far and many slots are open that are usually filled in by this point.
However none of this should dampen your plans yet... as Dow said, the trickier glacier sections can be skirted/dealt with.

Come June, park wardens will know what current conditions are.[/url]
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Postby PellucidWombat » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:20 pm

Ken,

Thanks for all of the great info. That webcam will be great to monitor to pass the time until our trip! I'm not familiar with the name Schwartz ledges route. Is this the alternate approach via the Ralph Forster hut and Patterson couloir?

Cheers,

Mark
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Postby Bill Kerr » Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:43 pm

Mainly known as SW face route which goes to the hut, then up to Liitle Robson, across the Schwatz ledges and up to the Roof where the route joins the Kain face route.
Some pics here http://www.summitpost.org/album/499966/Robson-SW-Face-Route.html but I have never got around to doing a route page.

Will Gadd did Robson in 16 hours car to car by this route although he went straight up the roof instead of going right to join the other route.


Patterson couloir is separate route from hut to backside of mountain and then do Kain face.
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