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Wapta Icefield Traverse

Banff National Park, British Columbia & Alberta

“THE CLASSIC GLACIER SKI TOUR”

SUMMARY

The Wapta Icefield is an accessible and attainable treasure for ski mountaineers. This trip is truly “The Classic Ski Tour” of the Mountain National Parks. The area is glaciated and remote, but the journey across it from Peyto Lake to West Louise Lodge is dotted with mountain huts maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada. This enables us to travel light for this five day long traverse. There are several crux challenges on the journey, and you will appreciate the safety net of being led by an experienced and certified guide on the icefield. Training in techniques and tactics will be provided by the guides, and this will maximize safety, success, and learning on the tour.

DESCRIPTION

Our journey begins at Peyto Lake along the Icefields Parkway, and traverses almost 50 kilometers of mountain terrain. Many skiers have traveled the Wapta as their first introduction to the high glacier environment. Peak and travel objectives are ideally suited to first time ski mountaineers. Your guides provide the safety net, expertise, and local knowledge to make this trip a highlight of your ski season.

INTINERARY

DAY 1 - Meet at Laggans Bakery in Lake Louise. Drive 45 minutes to park at the trailhead for Peyto Lake on the scenic Columbia Icefields Parkway. We can scope selected parts of the route from the road. Ski in via hiking trail, Peyto Lake, and Peyto Creek. In the afternoon, we ski tour up the Peyto Glacier to stay at the Peter and Catherine Whyte Hut. Basic training is provided in glacier travel. 10 kilometers and 200 vertical feet.

DAY 2 - We tour up to the skyline and side trip to Mt Baker, or Mt Rhonda, or the Onion enroute to bunking at Bow Hut for the night. Bow Hut is the largest hut on the icefield, and there are good locations for training and turns on this day. 6 kilometers and 1000 vertical feet plus side trips.

DAY 3 - A great day for skiing and mountain climbing. Half of the day is spent summiting peaks like Mt Gordon, Mt Olive, or St Nicholas, and the rest is the traverse to the Vulture Glacier to Balfour Hut. 8 kilometers and 200 vertical feet plus side trips.

DAY 4 - A challenging ascent up to the Balfour High Col. From here, strong groups with good conditions might attempt the summit of Mt Balfour. At 10,700 ft, it is the highest peak on the Waputik Icefield. From the High Col, a five-kilometer descent brings the group to the Scott Duncan Hut. 10 kilometers and 2000 vertical feet plus side trips.

DAY 5 - The last day takes us across the Daly Glacier to descend to the trees and treeline skiing along Sherbrook Lake Trail. The ski down the hiking trail is a memorable and fun rip out to civilization at West Louise Lodge. We car shuttle and celebrate the journey! 15 kilometers and 500 vertical feet. Note - Completion of the Wapta Icefield Traverse is dependant on the group and the conditions on the mountain. If trip cannot be completed as planned, the guides will reorganize the destination and probably descend from Bow Hut with the group.

EXPERIENCE LEVEL

Participants must be intermediate or better skiers who can pack food (ten pounds), and sleeping gear (ten pounds), and technical mountain gear (five pounds) for four nights out. This weight will be in addition to the usual weight of your daypack. Prior glacier travel experience is not required. Coaching and instruction will be provided. Technical and standard mountain gear is available for rent or purchase if needed (contact us for information).

WHAT TO BRING

Please see our gear list section for the complete list of recommended personal items for our hut based ski mountaineering trips.

WHAT IS INCLUDED

Includes five days of instruction and guiding by licensed certified guides, hut accommodation for four nights, lightweight but hearty food for five days, parks wilderness pass. The guide to guest ratio will be not more than five to one.

RATES, DATES AND AVAILABILITY

Rate Date Availability
$1,550 Call Open
  • rates do not include 5% GST
  • rates are per-person
  • Avalanche Safety Gear Rental is $30-/person/day plus 5% GST
  • Book early to ensure that we can make hut reservations