The wet season is coming to an end and good climbing conditions are hopefully on its way. Hence it must be time to start regular conditions updates.
Snow: There has been a lot of snow over the last 5 weeks, sometimes with strong easterly to northerly winds and relatively high freezing levels. This means there is plenty of snow down to about 5000m on most peaks in the Cordillera Real with the lower stuff being isothermal and the higher snowpack harbouring some potential slabs on west through to south aspects. Increasing amounts of sun hours in the ranges will hopefully stabilise the higher snow pack over the coming weeks and lower freezing levels in May will improve the lower altitude snow. Slab avalanche activity has been observed above 5500m on a south west aspect (size 1) and loose snow avalanches ( <size 1) on steep solar aspects.
Weather: The weather remains somewhat unstable but improving. Midday to afternoon storms are common after fine early mornings.
Overall conditions should continue to improve and there are plenty of climbing possibilities but be aware of fairly quick changes in weather – best to be up and off high peaks early, particularly if your route is on the east side of a mountain or has an east aspect – and also take care on higher slopes. Be prepared to analyse the snow pack and change objectives if there is signs of slab formation.
Locals have mostly been climbing lower things, skiing and snowboarding, with the occasional ascent of a higher peak. Below are a few pics to follow to give an idea of snow levels. From now on locals will be getting into the ranges more often and we’ll be able to post conditions updates regularly.