Snow/Ice in Early May

Old Apr 23rd, 2002, 06:12 AM
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Snow/Ice in Early May

Hi! I have been searching through countless sites and I haven't found all that much info on the Rockies in the sping. Can anyone tell me what conditions we might encounter in terms of trails near the townsites of Banff and Jasper in early May? Also, is Maligne Lake still easy to access in terms of trails at that point? How many of the lakes (i.e Maligne, Minnewaka, Lake Louise) will still be covered by ice? Are Johnston Canyon and Maligne Canyon still frozen at this point? How about Athabasca falls? What are road conditions like? Basically, what will the weather be like? What sorts of clothes should we pack for spring? What activities can we participate in at this time of year? Thanks so much for your help!
Old Apr 23rd, 2002, 11:41 AM
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M.H. I am sure someone will reply from the Rockies, but, generally speaking, it has been a very cool Spring out West. I live in Hope, at the Eastern end of the Fraser Valley, 2 hours from Vancouver, and we had snow last night. The local mountains here still have lots of snow, even at relatively low elevations. The Rockies are higher, and colder, and I would imagine it is still very much like winter there, and we are only 1 week away from the beginning of May. I think hiking will be quite restricted unless you want to go snowshoeing.
Old Apr 27th, 2002, 10:21 AM
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I'm from the Rockies. Usually the beginning of May is very pleasant, temperatures in mid-upper teens (celcius) with ice off the lakes and snow only found at higher elevations. Very unlikely to find poor road conditions, although late spring snow storms are not unheard of.
HOWEVER- this year has been the coldest latest spring I can ever remember (and I've lived here 30 years). Since the beginning of March it has been winter-like with continued snow, wind and cold,cold termperatures. It is starting to moderate a bit, but I expect most lakes will still be at least partially frozen, and snow may be on the ground (although not a lot) as low down as Banff/Jasper townsites. The roads, however, should be fine, barring a freak storm. Likely (hopefully) you will need spring clothing only, but I would bring some heavy sweaters, warm jackets in case this current cold snap coontinues. Remeber, in the mountains it always cools considerably at night due to the elevation and thin air, so be prepared for this.
Old Apr 27th, 2002, 11:04 AM
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M.H., I'm not from the Rockies, but recently looked into conditions for hiking in June, the date we planned on visiting.
I was told, by someone from the forest service if I remember correctly, that the high alpine trails wouldn't be "closed" necessarily in June, but were likely to be unnavigable because of snowy conditions. Late July was given as a prime time for hiking; late enough for the snow to melt, but before the bear's feeding season, when trails are most likely to be closed.
So - in early May, if what I've been told is true,and the conditions described in this forum don't improve, you might be able to do some hikes, but I wouldn't plan on doing the alpine hikes, which do sound awesome.
Hope this helps. I'm sure that the Rockies will be a rewarding destination to visit even if you don't get to do some things - an excuse for another visit?!
Old Apr 27th, 2002, 01:55 PM
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Molly is right. You probably won't even be able to drive up Cavell Road to the glacier, as it's a very poor and heavily snowed road. As far as clothes go, take hiking boots, warm socks, lightweight gloves if you're going to be out&about in early a.m. hours, and layers for outerwear - this spring, I'd recommend a fleece jacket and maybe even a gore-tex shell to go over it. I's April 29 right now, and the overnight lows here in Edmonton are still below zero (Celsius), with daytime highs in the single digits.
With all that being said, the Alberta climate is very unpredictable. While I wouldn't go so far as to say you should bring shorts, you might be lucky enough to experience some warmer (shirt-sleeve) weather.
As far as the trails go, we do hike in Jasper in the winter. There may still be snow on some of the higher but accessible trails, and there's bound to be a lot of mud and slop. Waterproofing your boots would be a good idea. Parts of Maligne Canyon may still be over, and there will probably still be ice on most of the lakes. Hope this helps.
Old Apr 27th, 2002, 06:47 PM
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Visited Lake Louise/Banff early May last year. Weather was great. Wore jeans/t-shirt - jacket was needed in the early morning/evening. Shorts a couple days, too. Lake Louise was still completely covered with ice/snow. Trails were OK. Many of the hiking trails in Lake louise area not yet accessible.
Wonderful time and beautiful place.
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