Shallow snow pack

Columbia Icefield Icefields

Brad Schalles , Monday 24th April, 2023 9:15PM

I spent the last few days on the Columbia Icefield (April 21-23). On the 21st, we approached via the Saskatchewan Glacier. We chose the longer Saskatchewan Glacier approach over using the Athabasca Glacier approach because of the Athabasca's poor snow coverage, many crevasses, and icefall hazard.

The approach to the toe of the Saskatchewan glacier is melting out quickly, but we were able to keep our skis on all the way. The toe of the glacier was thinly covered with snow and had ice showing in numerous places. Above 2200 metres, the snow coverage starts to improve.

On the 22nd, we made an ascent of Snow Dome. Probing throughout the day revealed an overall very weak and shallow snow pack on any areas with steeper terrain. With the poor visibility and thinly covered crevasses (in certain areas), we were required to ski part way down Snow Dome with the rope on.

On the 23rd, we skied out, with visibility coming and going. By 1pm the crust in the valley bottom was breaking down. Travel would have been challenging without it, so we were happy to be back at the car early.

Source: Mountain Conditions