Leaving the parking lot at Bow Lake on Thursday we were faced with strong south westerly winds and snow as we started our attempt at The Wapta Traverse. Getting into the trees gave us some shelter and we made good time to the Bow Hut, getting there late afternoon. The hut was warm and welcoming and we were soon ‘chowing down’ on the food that Brian at the Yam kitchen had prepared for us.
The next day, after a relaxed breakfast we set off for the Balfour Hut. Although we didn’t really need to put a rope on we decided it would be good practice as we would definitely need it the following day. We skinned up around the west side of St Nicolas and then on to the col to the south anticipating a nice ski down to the hut. This was not to be unfortunately, as there had been so much snow that down hill progress was limited to me breaking trail down-hill and the team sliding in my tracks. That night at the Balfour Hut we were joined by a team of 4 from Revelstoke and Seattle who had started the traverse at Peyto Lake.
The forecast for the next day was snow and east winds and we woke up to 15cm of the white stuff and overcast conditions and although it was ‘not good, but good enough’ to give it a go – so we set off with the other group – taking turns to break trail. The visibility was quite poor so compass and GPS helped us get to the col around lunch time – although lunch was far from our thoughts as snow and wind whipped across the exposed plateau up there. Due to the visibility and risk of hidden crevasses, three of us stayed roped up and everyone else skied down our tracks.The Scott-Duncan Hut was a welcoming site appearing out of the gloom perched on the flanks of Mt Daly.
The final day was ‘blue bird’ and at last we could appreciate the beauty of the Wapta with magnificent views of Balfour, The Presidents and the Temple range. The skiing improved as we got lower into the trees and we were fortunate to have a track to follow out across Sherbrooke Lake and down to the road.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip with great people. Thank you Deana, Jeff, Jon and Mike – hope to see you again soon.
Stevie B, ACMG / IFMGA Mountain Guide
** Photo thanks to Deana Sabuda