It's been a slow start to ice climbing season everywhere. Wyoming is dry and slow to start, Hyalite has a few routes that just started to become climbable in the last couple weeks, and NW Montana only has a couple of our higher elevation routes in right now.
Weather had been quite warm until a week ago when the mountains finally got some single digit temps. We were lucky to hit a good, safe, conditions window on Nov 21st when we climbed Six Pack of Beer and Nothing To Do in Snyder Basin. It was a fantastic way to start off the ice season!
The early season ice is going to be a game of patience. This week the mountains could receive up to a foot of snow followed by warm temps and a freezing level rising to over 10,000' by Sunday the 28th. It's impossible to stay completely out of avalanche terrain when climbing in Glacier Park. With that recipe of snow and warm weather I will be staying home waiting patiently for the temps to drop again.
These photos were taken on Nov 18th on my way up to avalanche lake. The hard freeze we had on the 16th is the only reason there is any ice on the lower part of these climbs. I don't think any of these routes are safe to climb today since temperatures have been creeping above freezing every day. It was really cool to see all of the ice routes frozen with no snow around them. That is the only time I have ever seen the mountains like that.
My take away from the current ice conditions and forecast is to be patient. Wait for the safe windows of opportunity. The mountains will always be there.