Thursday, December 4, 2008

Early Winter Snow & Ice Conditions

Since mid-November I have been ice climbing (searching) and skiing a number of times. The ice was coming in nicely until four days ago when strong Föhn winds hit and messed things up.

One week ago in the Gastein valley I looked around at a few falls. Ice was there, but it was really thin. Additionally, the forecast Föhn weather was already in effect in the valley, so there was water running between the ice and rock and the ice was not always well adhered. It made for some nerve racking climbing; very smooth delicate movements.

Snow conditions (amounts) are much better in comparison to the ice conditions. In the Tauern regions there is about a meter to 120cm of snow. It has gone through a cycle of changeable temps and humidity levels, with some sunny spells, so the snow pack is stable and settled. There seems to be enough snow for touring above 1400 - 1500m with passable amounts lower down between 800 - 1200m depending on aspect.

This coming weekend colder temps and snow is forecast into the next week. We look to be in for a period of unsettled winter weather for the next 6-7 days.