It’s that time of year again – ice season is fast approaching. Winter has returned to the San Juans – with snow and ice starting to come into condition throughout the range. Make sure to bookmark our San Juan Ice Conditions webpage. We will be doing twice weekly updates starting in mid-November and continuing throughout the 2014-2015 Ice Climbing Season. Overall, when compared to this same time period last year ice conditions are not quite as robust.
Currently, most climbs in the San Juans are starting to see some pretty decent ice formation, but none of the classic climbs are what I would call “in” just yet. As you can see from the pictures below (taken November 5, 2014), climbs like Stairway, 2nd Gully, Direct North Face, and Campground Couloir all have ice on starting to stick around, but we are still in a warm period here in the Ouray/Silverton areas. As it stands, models are forecasting that around Tuesday/Wednesday next week we will see a meaningful drop in the overall temperature regime in the mountains with overnight lows dropping into the teens. Those are the nighttime temperatures we need in order to improve conditions and build things up to be in climbable condition. The banner picture (above) shows current conditions on Bear Mtn and Sultan Mtn outside of Silverton – so there is plenty of snow in the alpine for the melt/freeze cycle to occur once temps normalize for this time of year.
One exception seems to be Hoser’s Highway in Eureka Canyon (pictured below). The pillar looked to be in the best condition of anything I looked at on Wednesday, and a few of us might go have real look at the climb here in the next few days. Stay tuned, and wish/pray/etc. for cold temps. Really cold temps!!