It’s not even June and the Bow Valley is already filling with wildfire smoke from fires burning in northern Alberta. Western Canada has been dealing with heavy smoke over the past few years and it looks like this year will be just as bad.

There are fires through Alberta (map) and big ones burning near Haines Junction, Yukon. You can visit the Sulphur Mountain webcam here to see the smokey skies around Banff. Backyard and camp fires are banned on B.C.’s west coast starting this week, see here for more. The smoke can irritate your lungs and eyes.

Last year, hundreds of fires burned in Canada and the States and many expeditions were cancelled, including some to the Waddington Range. The smoke will negatively impact tourism, climbing guides and the number of ascents going down on big peaks.

Meteorologist Doug Gillham told the Calgary Herald here, “The wildfire season is highly influenced by the weather; of course, it isn’t the only variable as human activity unfortunately plays a heavy role in setting fires . . . (but) lightning (has) a big role as well.

“We are concerned we will have comparable days (to last summer) where smoke is a major issue, but we hope we’re wrong on that. You always want to verify a forecast; this is one that we hope does not get verified.”

In Yosemite last year, fires sent climbers heading to safer areas, but some climbers stuck around. Hopefully this year won’t be as bad as last year.

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