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Ice Climbs are Busy in the Rockies and Avi Conditions

The Ranger Creek ice climbing area in the Canadian Rockies has seen dozens of parties this week as ice conditions continue to improve with the cold weather.

While not many low elevation ice routes have formed, many long alpine-style mixed routes are getting lapped, including Zeitgeist IV M7 WI5, Mount MOG IV M6+ and Remembering Fred III M6 WI5.

With only a small amount of snow fall, the avalanche conditions are not as bad as they have been this year, but avalanches can still occur. Below is a report from Larry Stanier on Mountain Conditions Report.

Climbed the ice route R+D today. Great ice conditions-soft plastic ice that took good sticks and screws throughout. Not the usual early season horror show kind of ice:)

Only about 8cm new snow up in the Ranger Creek basin and a report of 12 cm at Burstall but there is some deep hard slabs and sections of just rotten snow on open slopes even low in the basin. It was warming noticeably while we were on the route so we exited the valley as we weren’t feeling that comfortable about wandering around on the bigger slopes below Lone Ranger and the Chalice and the Blade.

More snow fell closer to the Rockies divide over the weekend. Probably not enough to create a real avalanche cycle but it is still an early season snowpack. This is just a reminder that other than a bunch of ski tracks there isn’t much consensus on what the snowpack is really like right now. It could be smooth sailing in some drainages and nasty windslabs on facets or crusts in others.

The consequences of an early season ride in even a small avalanche is much more akin to a high speed downhill mountain biking crash than falling in deep powder for awhile yet. Body armour anyone?