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Dates and Prices

Wapta Traverse 4-Day

Wapta Traverse 6-Day

Price

4-Day Classic Wapta Traverse:  $995 CDN

6-Day Extended Wapta Traverse:  $1695 CDN

Price includes guiding, hut fees, evening meals & drinks, transport shuttle if necessary, National Park 'Wilderness Pass'.

Not Included: sales tax, breakfasts, lunches, snacks (packages available for an additional charge) or gratuities. We recommend you purchase the full backcountry food package. Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.

Is it for you?

The Wapta Traverse is a high mountain ski trip in variable ski conditions ranging from Powder to Wind Slab. Participants need to be at least strong intermediate downhill skiers. Skiing is done with your backpack on and you must be able to ski in control and parallel (or telemark) turn in a variety of conditions. You need to be in good physical condition, able to carry a 40lb pack for several hours a day over several kilometers.

The toughest uphill is on the 1st day, the most difficult descent is on the last day. Participants should be comfortable traversing and controlling their speed in tight terrain.

We recommend the "Classic Wapta Traverse" for those pressed for time or for those newer to ski mountaineering.

The "Extended Traverse" begins with a considerably more physically demanding approach day and is recommended for those with a higher level of aerobic fitness.

The Wapta Traverse should not be your first backcountry ski or ski mountaineering experience. This program is not suitable for split boarding.

Training

Any training you can do will greatly enhance your Wapta Traverse experience. The ideal would be to do some ski touring or cross country skiing in your own area with a pack. Don't try to go too fast but concentrate on even breathing and pacing. The hillier the terrain the better and if you can carry a backpack then better still. Running is also good training. A word of caution: start gradually, don't push too hard, too fast. It is best to build up your endurance over multiple training sessions.

The Wapta Traverse

The Wapta Traverse is the ultimate Canadian Rockies hut to hut ski tour. The Wapta Icefields spread for many miles north along the continental divide from the Lake Louise area. With vast glaciers, easy peaks and a superlative hut system, the area is perfect for a great ski traverse. As one of our favorite winter playgrounds, the Wapta is pretty much a second home for our guides and no one quite does the Wapta Traverse like Yamnuska!

We offer two versions of the Wapta Traverse: Signature Experiencethe 4-Day Classic Wapta Traverse and the 6-Day Extended Wapta Traverse. The Classic Traverse will suit those with more limited time and is a better option for intermediate ski tourers. It starts from Bow Lake and finishes at Sherbrooke Lake just west of Lake Louise. The Extended Traverse starts at Peyto Lake near the northernmost end of the icefields and finishes at Sherbrooke Lake.

The 4-day Classic Wapta Traverse begins at the Yamnuska office at 8:00am on the first day. On the 6-day Extended Wapta Traverse it's important to get an early start on the first day. To achieve this we will be meeting the evening before at 7:30pm, also at the Yamnuska office. The Yamnuska office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.

Classic Wapta Traverse

Day 1: Meet us at our office in Canmore at 8:00am for introductions, trip review and equipment check. Once ready we drive about 1 hour and 15 minutes north to Bow Lake, our start point. After an avalanche safety session, we commence the climb to Bow Hut which is located at 7700 ft. on a shoulder adjacent to the snout of the Bow Glacier, this typically takes us between 3 and 5 hours. We cross frozen Bow Lake then ski up the canyon which leads to the amphitheatre below Mounts Olive and St. Nicholas. After a final steep section we reach the welcome warmth of the spacious Bow Hut. We travel 6km and climb 1270ft / 610m. If time and energy permit we can head back out and get some powder turns on the headwall of the Bow glacier above the Hut.

Day 2: Today we start the glacier travel to our objective: Balfour Hut, located at 8100ft. near the snout of the Balfour Glacier. We get there by climbing the 'Headwall' one last time then heading over the 9,500ft. high col between Mt. St. Nicholas and Olive. If it's a nice day we can leave skis on the col and climb a beautiful snow ridge to the summit of Mt Olive at 10,200ft. From there we can see tomorrow's route over the Balfour High Col. A long, easy descent brings us to the Balfour Hut. It will take us upwards of 4 hours depending on whether we climb Mt. Olive or not.

Not including Mt. Olive we travel 8km and climb 1800ft / 550m. Add another 1.5km and 700ft / 215m if we climb Mt. Olive.

Day 3: First light will see us heading out of the Hut and onto the crux of the Wapta Traverse, the crevassed slopes leading to the 10,000ft. Balfour High Col. This is undoubtedly the most spectacular section of the wapta traverse as we pass beneath Mt. Balfour with its towering seracs and corniced ridges. We need reasonable visibility for this objective. Once on the high col we can look across the gently descending slopes of the Waputik Glacier to Mount Daly with the Scott-Duncan Hut, today's objective, below. It's a phenomenal panorama ... to the north the Front Ranges and to the south the granite spires of the Purcells with the main peaks of the Rockies between! This section will take around 6 hours. Weather, visibility and avalanche hazard can make the Balfor High Col unpassable. In this case we will exit via the route we came in.

Travel 10km, climb 2000ft / 610m.

Day 4: From the Scott Duncan Hut we ski towards the rocky thumb of Mt. Niles where the fun really begins. This long descent sees us swooping down snowy benches, through treed glades and along a canyon. We then finish skiing across Sherbrooke Lake to a trail through the trees that brings us to the Trans Canada Highway at the Great Divide Lodge on the Kicking Horse Pass. We should be back in Canmore by late-afternoon.

Travel 13km, descend 4800ft / 1465m.

Extended Wapta Traverse

Day 1: Meet us at our office in Canmore at 7:30pm for introductions, trip review, equipment check and to pack gear.

Day 2:  Departure is set for 7:30am for the 1.5 hour drive north to Peyto Lake, our start point. After an avalanche safety session, we commence our wapta traverse by descending through the forest to Peyto Lake. After crossing the Lake we travel up the outwash valley from the Peyto Glacier to the base of the lateral moraine which we climb, carrying skis for a short section, to the edge of the glacier. From here we travel a further 3km up the Glacier to reach the Peyto Hut which is perched on a rocky shoulder overlooking Peyto Glacier. Peyto Hut is completely surrounded by glaciers and peaks and is arguably the most spectacular location of any of the Wapta huts. We travel 9km and climb 2200ft / 670m.

Day 3: We will spend a day practicing crevasse rescue and ski touring from the Peyto Hut. There are some great skiing options for us today including an ascent of Mt. Rhonda (10,000ft. / 3048m) or the Baker Col. Expect to be out for 6 hours.

Day 4: We recommence the traverse and head over the Icefields to Bow Hut (6km & 900ft / 275m) with the option of another ski ascent en-route. Bow Hut (7700 ft./ 2348m) is located on the edge of the spectacular amphitheatre below Mt. St. Nicholas with its hanging ice cliffs. From here the itinerary is identical to that on the Classic Traverse.

Day 5: Today we continue the Traverse to our objective: Balfour Hut, located at 8100ft / 2480m near the snout of the Balfour Glacier. We get there by climbing the 'Headwall' one last time then heading over the 9,500ft. / 2900m high col between Mt. St. Nicholas and Olive. If it's a nice day we can leave skis on the col and climb a beautiful snow ridge to the summit of Mt. Olive at 10,200ft / 3100m From there we can see tomorrows' route over the Balfour High Col. A long, easy descent brings us to the Balfour Hut. It will take us upwards of 4 hours depending on whether we climb Mt. Olive or not.

Not including Mt. Olive we travel 8km and climb 1800ft / 550m. Add another 1.5km and 700ft / 215m if we climb Mt. Olive.

Day 6: First light will see us heading out of the Balfour Hut and onto the crux of the Wapta Traverse, the crevassed slopes leading to the 10,000ft / 3000m Balfour High Col. This is undoubtedly the most spectacular section of the wapta traverse as we pass beneath Mt. Balfour with its towering seracs and corniced ridges. We need reasonable visibility for this part. Once on the High Col we can look across the gently descending slopes of the Waputik Glacier to Mount Daly with the Scott-Duncan Hut, today's objective, below. It's a phenomenal panorama ... to the north the Front Ranges and to the south the granite spires of the Purcells with the main peaks of the Rockies between! This section will take around 6 hours. Weather, visibility and avalanche hazard can make the Balfor High Col unpassable. In this case we will exit via the route below the Bow Hut to Bow Lake.

Travel 10km, climb 2000ft / 610m.

Day 7: From the Scott Duncan Hut we ski towards the rocky thumb of Mt. Niles where the fun really begins. This long descent sees us swooping down snowy benches, through treed glades and along a canyon. We then finish skiing across Sherbrooke Lake to a trail through the trees that brings us to the Trans Canada Highway at the Great Divide Lodge on the Kicking Horse Pass. We should be back in Canmore by late-afternoon.

Travel 13km, descend 4800ft / 1465m.

For a previous client's description of the program, take a look at this great trip report from Scott Kendall:  Hut to Hut Skiing, Canadian Style

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