Nov 21-22, 2020
I spent the weekend guiding ski tours on the icefields parkway. It was breezy in the alpine with moderate snow transport from the southwest. Daytime temps hovered around -10.
Saturday at Bow Summit snow depth was about 100 cm at treeline. The Nov 4 crust was down 65 cm. The upper snowpack was generally not very wind affected, dry and loose, and offered excellent skiing. No cracking or shearing in areas skied, a couple of new windslab avalanches to size 1.5 during the day higher in the alpine on lee aspects and across the valley on crossloaded features.
Today behind Crowfoot Mountain there was some wind effect in the upper alpine. We saw quite a bit of recent natural avalanche activity from the wind, mainly size 1-2, but one size 3 (cornice fall trigger on the Onion NE face that l thought was <24 hrs old). See photo. Several cornice failures size 1-1.5 came off the ridge on the west side of the valley, likely strafing an otherwise elegant uptrack that is in the runout. The uptrack further climber’s left in the basin is positioned to keep away from the cornice hazard.
Despite the wind effect, ski quality was still excellent, especially in the lower alpine and treeline elevations. Below treeline the snow skis well but it’s very shallow. Lots of caution for shallowly buried rocks is required everywhere except on Ferris Glacier.
We avoided steep windloaded terrain, and were wary about exposure to cornices. Skied alpine to 30°, sheltered TL & BTL to 37°.
I put a track in that crosses Bow Lake, which is now well enough frozen.
I’m including some terrain photos of the Wapta that show coverage fairly well.
Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA