BETA FROM GUIDES: Mountain Conditions Report (MCR)

Words by Jill Macdonald. Photos by various Mountain Conditions Report (MCR) contributors.

Free professional information for anyone headed into the backcountry – that’s what the Mountain Conditions Report (MCR) is and it came to be because of climbing accidents that local guides felt could have been prevented.

Silas Rossi photo

Tom Wolfe is a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and the technical savant to credit for initiating the MCR. “The Informalex, a private ACMG guides’ mailing list, began in the late 1990s as a way for guides to share important mountain condition information and guiding beta with each other. In 2005, a number of fatalities occurred in the Canadian Rockies as a result of hazards that were known to guides and had been discussed on the Informalex. I felt that it would be in the public interest to share mountain condition information rather than keep it private. I sent a post to the Informalex proposing that the ACMG begin a public mailing list. Guides strongly supported this idea, and within a matter of a couple of weeks the Mountain Conditions Report began. That was July, 2005.”

Curt Davidson photo

Slightly different in content from the Informalex, Wolfe expanded MCR to include route conditions, access issues, trail reports and wildlife concerns. Anything timely and relevant that would be of significant value to people traveling through the backcountry.

MCR is navigated is by activity, region or map view, and regional summaries are also available. Niall Gleeson is a professional geologist based out of Calgary who spends his weekends and free time in the mountains across BC, Alberta and into the US. “I use the MCR as one of my tools for trip planning. It provides me with safety related beta like glacier conditions, route options and specific conditions in greater detail than a general avalanche bulletin.”

Only certified guides who register with MCR can put up posts. This ensures that reports are reliable and professional. The intent is always to share and increase people’s margins for a great mountain experience. As Gleeson notes, “It is not fun to show up at a trail head only to discover that it is closed, or a river has washed out an access bridge. MCR helps me decide where to go, what to look for, and whether or not to even go to that area. I also subscribe to the email list to learn about trips people are doing.”

Alex Geary photo

Providing more tools for backcountry users to make informed decisions was the inspiration behind MCR and the reason guides take the time to post their observations. Whether it’s climbing, hiking or ski touring, in Canada, the US and other places, MCR gathers reliable beta in one place. Use this global tool to research your next trip, or use it to connect with local guides and have them plan a custom trip for you. MCR is one more tool in your information kit.

Jeff Van Driel photo


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