Ice Climbing season began for me on November 11th and I've now had about 5 days of ice so far this year. Conditions have been outstanding considering that it has been a bit of a slow start to the season. The temperatures have been mild with great ice conditions and up until about the 16th of November the avalanche hazard has been low. That has all changed now (as of November 21st) and so routes like Pointless Gulley or Bourgeau Left that have avalanche terrain on the way to the base and also overhead avalanche terrain have to be taken far more seriously or avoided at this time.
The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and the public safety teams for Parks Canada & Kananaskis Country Public Safety have been strongly advocating the ice and alpine climbing community to use avalanche companion rescue equipment when in avalanche terrain. I would venture to say that for most part, traction in adopting this practice has been extremely limited in the ice climbing community likely because of indifference, inconvienence or overconfidence in their ability to evalute the hazards in challenging and complex terrain. Its very odd to me considering ice climbing out of necessity, yields such long exposure periods - particulary with routes that have overhead hazard.
The recent 30-60cm's of new snow is sitting on basal facets and a problematic crust from late October. Conditions are already High (4) in the Alpine in K-Country and Considerable (3) at Treeline. Banff, Kootenay, Yoho will be at 3xHigh in the next few days with unseasonably warm air and rain adding strong heating inputs to an alread fragile snowpack structure.
This very warm air is set to move in starting tomorrow accompanied by rain close to mountain top which will push the hazard to go to High in both Alpine and Treeline in K-Country the next few days and climbers and skiers will have to pull back and start making far more conservative terrain selection in the coming days and weeks. Again, the problems in the snowpack are facets on the ground and a crust from late October called the Halloween crust that is a week layer close to the ground (20cm).
Don't expect these issues to go away any time soon as these issues will be fixtures in the snowpack for the foreseeable future so that will require consistent, disciplined decision making by climbers and skiers. Ice climbers also need to get in touch with their adulthood and start taking ownership of their own risk management by reading the bulletin, taking licensed AST courses, carry and knowing how to use avalanche companion rescue equipment with them when they are in avalanche terrain to reduce their vulnerability.