James Blench and myself spent the past four days attempting to do the Wapta Traverse with 10 enthusiastic guests. Unfortunately mother nature had some different ideas for the trip. The first day was like any other traverse; starting off with excited and anxious guests who were wondering if they could do it, heavy packs and all. After a morning meeting and downsizing our gear to carry only what we needed, we were off to Bow Lake to begin the trip.
On the way up to the Bow Hut the weather started to come in. At the Hut we ate a big feast and got a well deserved rest that night. The next morning we roped up and headed towards the St. Nicholas-Olive Col, on route to the Balfour Hut. Well, needless to say, we felt like we were inside a ping pong ball. Navigating in a whiteout and dealing with crazy winds we finally got to the hut six and a half hours later. That night everyone was tired and thankful for the wonderful shelter that the Balfour Hut provides. So with full bellies, and another relaxing evening, we went to bed and waited to see what mother nature was going to do overnight.
The third morning of our four-day traverse is where a crux decision had to be made. In order to attempt crossing the Balfour high col to the Scott Duncan Hut, one needs to have visibility and stability of the snow pack. Well in the morning we had the visibility, but not the stability. Sometimes in the mountains the conditions and weather make the decisions for you! So with all the overnight natural avalanches that happened and all that new snow (30-40cm), the stability was not in our favour. We had to turn around and go back the way we came.
Going out to the Balfour Hut we could not see a thing, so returning to the Bow Hut was like a whole new trip; everything was new to the eye. The mountains were beautifully covered with a long overdue blanket of new snow. The peaks were majestic as always and the group was excited to get out and do some exploring. James and I decided to take our guests up the North Ridge of Mt Olive. Busting trail through 60cm of new snow on the ridge to gain the summit left everyone in awe. The aborted traverse was forgotten, and everyone was stoked with a new peak under their belts! Finally, we got to take off our skins and ski down to the Bow Hut. Needless to say we had to ski some powder! (too bad). So we dropped the heavy bags off at the hut and went up for another late afternoon run.
Unfortunately the sun set all too soon, and we had to retreat to the warmth of the hut. The last day we woke to a beautiful, sunny, calm morning. We headed out to take a final run down the toe of the glacier in front of the Hut. What a fine run it was… Everyone in the group had an amazing time and some good turns.
Thank you to all!