This past week, July 12-17, six keen and motivated ladies joined Yamnuska guide Merrie-Beth Board on the Wapta Icefields to attain and sharpen their mountains skills.
‘With a forecast that looked a little uncertain we geared up with all the proper gear (rain gear) and headed up to the Bow Hut. We almost made it with out precipitation. Just 45 minutes away and the skies closed above and our precious rain gear did its job well. A cozy hut, hot tea and soup was a welcomed reward.
Everyone was issued glacier gear, we practiced a little knot tying and had some time to enjoy our home for the week.
Day 2 we started with some delicious pancakes and hit the trail to the toe of the Bow glacier. We started off learning about efficient movement, ice axe and crampon use. Not long after we were putting on the ropes to finally be walking in unison. Our team spirit was strong. Luckily, our gortex was dry from the previous day. You guessed it, dark clouds prevailed and we bundled up once again. Inclement weather didn’t stop us as we practiced using the ice axe to stop slides on the snow(self arrest). Back at the hut the hot chocolate tasted amazing after some wind and rain refreshed our rosy cheeks while we practiced lots of new skills.
Day 3 we rose before the sun all packed and ready to go. Under broken clouds we set out for what would become a stupendous day.
The energy was high in the group for a summit day. Just as we stepped on the glacier a dark ship of cloud came from the east. Our cocoons of comfort and warmth were put on once again. 3 for 3 rainy days and still smiling.
As our two rope teams crested the Wapta Icefield the clouds lifted and we were greeted with orange hues of the early morn. Later we were graced with the sun as we travelled to Mt. Olive. It was truly a gift, surrounded by peaks with a thin blanket of fresh snow. The rain gear came off and we enjoyed a calm summit. For many, it was a first mountain top!
Day 4 was focused on rescue skills and a little rock scramble up the side of the mighty Onion Skin. Everyone had seen plenty of crevasses by now and the importance of good rescue skills was clear. It was a beautiful day to learn… well… until it started to rain. But that was becoming the norm and everyone geared up like pros and kept on practicing. Later on the huts wood stove cracked and popped with a warm glow, as we indulged in some well earned hot soup and a sense of pure bliss.
Day 5 we woke to wind and sleet, our eager early start of 430 am was pushed to 6am to let the weather settle. This time, leaving the hut all geared up no one was sure what the day would bring or if 10,200ft Mt. Gordon would be reached. With more fresh snow our world was very white and it was necessary to use a compass to navigate to the mountain. Luckily everyone had designed a route plan, studied the map the night before and had a pretty good idea of what to look for. It was a fabulous day of all ladies leading, rising to the challenges of a stormy day. We almost turned back, but Mother Nature opened the blue skies just a little and we climbed the last steps to the summit. YAHOOO! Halfway there. Going down was much easier with the sunlight coming in and out. Everything tasted so good at the hut as we recapped the day, everyone taking away something new and valuable from the days outing.
Day 6 No one could believe it was the last breakfast at our cozy table, and we enjoyed a relaxing morning. We packed up, sweeping up a few dust bunnies and doing some rope ascending by prussik to top off skills. Eventually it came time to shoulder our packs and say farwell to Bow glacier and the hut.
New friends, experiences and futures goals we set. It was a stormy mountain week and every moment embraced. For 6 out of 6 rain days (yes we got rained on the walk out) it was certainly a 10 outta 10 adventure.
Thanks to all. Enjoy every adventure and day even the rainy ones :)’
Yamnuska Girl Guide and Instructor
Here is some more information on our Women’s Only Mountaineering Course.
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