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Rockies Rock Season Ends Early as Ice Forms

Ice forms near Lake Louise and six glaciers

The Canadian Rockies rock climbing season often stretches from mid-spring to mid-October, but this year is different.

The season started late after a cold spring and was hampered for most of August due to cough-inducing wildfire smoke that drifted east from B.C.

As the smoke cleared during the first week of September, many local Banff and Canmore climbers were hoping for a month of stable weather to complete their projects.

However, heavy snow falls that reached the valley floor started in mid-September and the weather never really improved. With lows below freezing most nights and mornings.


Now a big winter storm has dumped about 15 to 30 centimetres of snow on most of the Canadian Rockies. Climbers can often expect a late summer for about a week, but it doesn’t look like it will arrive this year.

If transient rock climbers based in the Rockies hadn’t left for warmer climates yet, the recent storm will surely motivate them to get moving.

On the flip side, all of the recent snow will be melting in the balmy +3°C daytime weather this week only to freeze at night which will re-form the classic ice routes the Rockies are known for.

Yamnuska on Oct. 1 Photo Brandon Pullan

By the last week of September, ice was already forming in Kananaskis Country, near Banff and along the Icefields Parkway.

If the forecast stays as predicted then by mid-October we can expect many of the early season ice routes to be picked out, just in time for the upcoming Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival.

On Oct. 24, The Bow Valley Mountain Club will be hosting an Avalanche Awareness Night at the Canmore Brewing Company. For more information visit here.

Oct. 2 snow in Banff National Park