Durand Glacier snowpack

94 square kilometers of skiing

At Durand Glacier, snow-shovels aren't just for safety.

Over 100 feet annual snowfall with a full-time snow shoveler on staff. That's all we really need to tell you about the snowfall at the Durand Glacier.

The deep, consistent snowpack is one of the reasons Ruedi chose this location. The Durand Glacier area is in the North America’s largest snow-belt, that brings a guaranteed snowpack, even during the years when all other areas are in serious need of snow.

It's also why so many powder lovers come back to the Selkirks, year after year after year. They know that in this area there will be a good snowpack with the famous Durand Glacier powder on top.

The snow starts coming down in October. By early December, when Ruedi and a crew of five shovelers arrive at the Chalet, they have 4 days of serious shoveling ahead of them. Every new storm (and there are many of them) brings many more hours of shoveling to keep the walkways, sundeck and heliport clear.

Our guests, however, see no reason for complaint. This snowfall accumulates to an average of 400 cm snowpack at the tree-line, and an incredible 700 cm snowpack in the alpine. And what snow! Durand Glacier powder is the real thing - a light, fluffy, skier's dream.

If you're interested in why we can promise such consistent and abundant snowfalls, please read meteorologist Matt MacDonald’s explanation in the column below. You'll understand why, when you find yourself skiing bottomless fresh powder here at the end of April, you're not dreaming.

Snow conditions by month
Month Durrand Glacier Chalet
elev. 1946 m
elev. 2500 m
Powder quality skiing zones
December 220 to
280 cm
300 to
400 cm
Deep, super light powder.
Skiing trees 60%, alpine 40%
January 250 to
320 cm
350 to
450 cm
Deep, super light powder.
Skiing trees 60%, alpine 40%
February 300 to
380 cm
420 to
apr. 550 cm
Deep, super light.
Skiing trees 50%, alpine 50%
March 350 to
460 cm
500 to
apr. 650 cm
Light powder in most aspects.
Skiing trees 30%, alpine 70%
April 400 to
480 cm
600 to
750 cm
Light powder in most aspects of the alpine.
Skiing trees 10%, alpine 90%
early May 400 to 480 cm
apr. 460 cm
650 to
800 cm
apr. 700 cm
Light powder in NW, N, NE aspects of the alpine. Alpine skiing 100%

Durand Glacier Weather

"The Columbia Mountains are the first major barrier to incoming moisture across British Columbia's Interior Plateau. The northern Columbia's which include the Monashees and the Selkriks receive some of Canada's highest annual snowfall amounts.

The ideal atmospheric circulation for heavy snow to the Northern Selkirks is a west to southwest flow. This way moisture off the Pacific Ocean can sneak in between the South Coast Mountains and the Northern Cascades and remain relatively uninterrupted until encountering the Columbia Mountain Range. A southwesterly flow arrives perpendicular to the range and results in maximum orographic lifting. Western Canada's weather pattern is predominantly from the west. This moisture laden southwesterly flow is thus very common, making heavy snowfall a regular occurrence in the Northern Selkirks.

Located smack dab in the middle of the Northern Selkirks sits the Durrand Glacier, Selkirk Mountain Experience's playground. From the Durrand Glacier, several glacial valleys fan out in a variety of orientations including the E-W Carnes Creek, the SE-NW Downie Creek and the NW-SE Woolsey Creek. This medley of drainage orientations promotes convergence for each of the major atmospheric flows which ultimately results in enhanced snowfall. Carnes Creek channels moisture during the predominant west to southwest flow and creates a snow-belt over the Durrand Glacier and its surrounding mountains. Downie Creek promotes enhanced snowfall to the glacier in a northwesterly atmospheric flow while many of the surrounding sub-ranges have become subsident and dry. Additionally, Woolsey Creek allows moisture to be channeled and converge at the southern edge of the glacier during a southerly flow.

The Durrand Glacier thus benefits from the large scale orographic enhancement of the Columbia's as well as the smaller scale chanelling and convergence effects of the various surrounding drainages. Year after year all of these factors combine to give the Durrand Glacier some of the highest annual snowfall amounts while many surrounding ranges experience large seasonal variability. Deep snow is almost guaranteed on the Durrand Glacier!"

By Matt MacDonald Operational Meteorologist