Climbers expecting to travel to the Canadian Rockies for alpine or sport routes this summer may need to alter their plans after massive floods in southern Alberta devastated the town of Canmore and surrounding areas. More than 8 inches of rain fell in Canmore last week, causing normally small streams such as Cougar Creek, site of many popular sport climbs, to swell into vast and churning rivers and cause extensive damage. At least three people died in the floods in communities south of Calgary.
Travel through to Canmore and Banff, the gateway towns to the Rockies for most visitors, has been severely disrupted by floods that destroyed parts of the Trans-Canada Highway. The northern and western access routes to the Rockies, through Jasper National Park and Golden, British Columbia, respectively, are still open, but access roads, trails, approaches, and the climbs themselves may be unusuable or dangerous for some time.
According to reports from this past weekend from the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), "Most of the roads leading into Kananaskis Country are closed at this time due to flooding, mudslides and washouts." Farther north, an ACMG report says, "We have not been able to determine the extent of damages to backcountry infrastructure, but expect many roads, trails, and bridges to be washed out between the mountain front and the great divide, from Waterton to Bow Summit. In the near future we can expect our mountains to be unstable due to the incredible amount of rain. Expect expanses of loose rock and rockfall. This could be especially evident on easier 3rd and 4th class scrambling terrain. The ground is saturated and there have been many mudslides."
The frequent mountain conditions reports from the ACMG are a great way to stay updated on the situation in the mountains. For information on access to Canmore and other issues (currently residents must boil water before drinking), visit canmore.ca.
Date of reports: June 22-23, 2013