For the adventurous skier looking for something different, look no further. This action-packed 5-day ski safari is full of adventure.
After our initial night at the Bow Hut we head over to the idyllic Richard and Louise Guy Hut near the Des Poilus glacier for the remaining 4 days. This trip is an excellent alternative to the other traverses on the Wapta, as this area is generally quieter, and the hut provides the perfect opportunity to recharge the batteries and go skiing with a light pack. Ours guides will lead you to some of the secret lines and hidden stashes which hopefully culminates with an ascent of Mt Des Polius.
This program is ideal for back country skiers and splitboaders looking for something a little different on the Wapta. You will not be disappointed with this challenging and highly rewarding program.
Day 1: Meet us at our office in Canmore at 8:00am for introductions, trip review, equipment check, and to pack gear. After distributing group food and gear amongst guests, we will drive 1.5 hours North to Bow Lake, where our journey begins! After an avalanche safety session, we cross a frozen Bow Lake then ski up the scenic canyon which leads to the amphitheatre below Mounts Olive and Mount St. Nicholas. After a final steep section, we reach the welcome warmth of the spacious Bow Hut which is located at 2300m on a shoulder just below the Wapta Icefields. 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. We travel 6km and climb 450m which can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours of skiing.
Day 2: We will leave the comforts of the Bow hut behind and gain the Wapta Icefields neve. We will continue traversing across the icefield under the beautiful Mt Rhonda and Mt Collie before descending to the new Louise and Richard Guy Hut overlooking Mount des Poilus and the des Poilus glacier. A truly beautiful spot! This will be our home for the night. Expect a full day with 11 km travelled and 760m gained.
Days 3-4: This is our chance to explore some of the summits and untouched ski runs in the area. You and your guide will spend the next 2 days seeking out the best skiing and terrain for your group.
Day 5: With an alpine start and lighter packs we’ll aim to ski one of the steeper lines back down onto the Yoho glacier before making a shallow ascent back up below Mt Gordon before skiing down to the vehicles to make the journey back to Canmore.
Instructors and Group Size
Your guides are certified by the internationally recognized Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and also licensed by Parks Canada. There will be a maximum of 6 participants per guide. There will be a maximum of 12 guests, minimum 4.
We will meet the group at 8:00 AM on the first day here at our office in Canmore (Map). Please come prepared with your personal gear and clothing. Be sure to leave enough room in your pack for some additional group gear and food as well.
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Canmore which is a 1 hour (100km) drive west from Calgary.
We rely on guest’s personal vehicles to reach program locations. We will assist with the vehicle shuttle at the beginning or end of the traverse.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore.
Accommodation and Meals
During the trip we will be staying and the Alpine Club of Canada’s Bow & Guy huts. Sleeping areas in the huts are communal and facilities are basic. Cooking in the huts is done on propane stoves and all dishes are provided.
All meals, snacks and drinks are supplied from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last. Meals are prepared by our in-house chef from fresh, nutritious ingredients and then dehydrated to make them suitable for backcountry travel. For guests with dietary restrictions, we can modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs. As food pricing and preparation for these diets is more costly, we have implemented the following surcharges. For vegan, gluten free, lactose free, soy free, nut free or any similar type of single restriction menu requests there will be a $16/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $25/day surcharge will apply. For any 3 restrictions a $30/day surcharge will apply. Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged. For more complex diets our kitchen staff will assess the restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply.
Accommodation in Canmore is not included. A variety of accommodation options exist in both Canmore and Banff. We recommend that you book your own pre and post-trip accommodations well in advance as all levels of accommodations in the Bow Valley fill quickly.
Weather and Conditions Note
This is a challenging program in complex terrain and as with any trip into the mountains neither weather or avalanche conditions can be guaranteed. Poor visibility or avalanche conditions after day 2 may require a change to the itinerary which may involve an extra night at the Bow hut. Regardless, expect the trip to be a great adventure in a beautiful area.
Equipment and Clothing
You will need to bring your own clothing, skis, poles, climbing skins, avalanche gear, backpack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. We have many of these items available to rent and can pre-arrange them for you. We supply group items (ropes, harnesses, crevasse rescue gear, tents, stoves, etc).
You will be able to leave excess gear in Canmore while on the trip.
The equipment and clothing you bring will have a big impact on the quality of your experience. Please be sure to bring all items listed. If unsure about anything please don’t hesitate to call and ask us!
There are two ski systems you can use: System 1: Alpine Touring skis are essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which allows the heel to lift when going uphill or across the flats and then locks down to become a regular downhill safety binding. We recommend this system to anyone with a background of downhill skiing. System 2: Telemark skis. These should only be used for this program if you are at least an advanced-intermediate telemark skier with some backcountry experience. This system is more difficult and less forgiving than the other.
Which should you use? If you are a downhill skier then you should use Alpine Touring gear. Only if you are already an advanced Telemark skier should you bring Telemark gear.
Snow Boards can be used on this program however, due to the number of flat areas you are better off on skis. If ‘boarding’ you need to be an advanced backcountry boarder and you need to be on a split board. Don’t bring a board if you’ve never boarded in the backcountry before.
Skis, boots, poles, and boards can be rented in Calgary and Canmore prior to the trip.
You need to bring:
- Skis. We recommend a short (160 – 185cm) wide ski designed for powder. Please see note under rental information if you are renting ski equipment.
- Climbing skins ‘Stick-on type’
- Ski Poles
- Ski Boots
- Climbing harness (light weight if possible) loaners available
- Locking biners (2), non-locking biners (2) loaners available
- Prussick cord (1) loaners available
- 120cm sewn sling (1) loaners available
- Avalanche Transceiver – digital transceiver with a triple antennae rentals available
- Collapsible Avalanche Probe rentals available
- Avalanche Shovel (lightweight snow shovel designed for companion rescue) rentals available
- Backpack (at least 65L, large enough for sleeping bag, spare clothes, and your share of group food & equipment) rentals available
- Sunglasses and ski goggles
- Water bottle (at least 1 liter capacity), a Thermos for Hot Drinks is optional
- Sun block and lip cream
- Pocket knife
- Sleeping Bag. We recommend a three season bag rated between -7 to -9 °C. Expect hut temperatures to be cool overnight. Make sure you bring a stuff sac that will reduce your bag to its minimum size (i.e. one with compression straps) so you don’t use up all the room in your pack.
- Headlamp with fresh batteries
- Small Blister and personal First-Aid Kit
- Personal Toilet Items (keep to a bare minimum)
- Ear Plugs for dorm sleeping (optional but recommended)
- Insulated Booties or Sandals
We suggest layers of light, easily carried clothing that allow for fast and easy adjustment to best suit fast changing temperature conditions. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about what to bring.
- Polypro underwear (top & bottom)
- Extra warm shirt (not cotton)
- Medium weight fleece sweater
- Soft shell or fleece jacket
- Soft shell pants
- Insulated jacket (down preferred)
- Insulated pants (fleece or other synthetic) (optional)
- Waterproof jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or equivalent)
- Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex or equivalent, with side zippers)
- Socks (wool or synthetic) – 2 to 3 pairs
- Wool or fleece hat
- Waterproof ski mountaineering gloves or mitts
- Light weight ski gloves
- Gaiters, only needed if your ski pants are not elasticized at the ankle
- Neck tube or balaclava
- Sun hat
Skis, Boots, Boards, Skins & Poles can be rented from:
- Calgary: Mountain Equipment Co-op. – 830-10 Ave. S.W. Calgary (Tel: 403 269-2420)
- Canmore: Gear Up – 1302 Bow Valley Trail (403 678-1636)
*Please note that your ‘DIN’ or ‘Release Value’ settings on your ski bindings are critical to your safety while skiing. Our expectation is that everyone arrives on programs with their ski binding’s release value correctly set. We have noted that some ski rental shops will not set release values on touring bindings. We advise you to rent from a shop that will set release values on your ski touring bindings unless you are proficient and comfortable setting your own DIN / release value. Failure to have Release Values correctly set could result in a serious injury.
Yamnuska has equipment as noted above for rent should you require. Please advise as early as possible.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require a 35% deposit on booking.
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident while here. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue so long as you have a valid National Park Entry Pass which you can obtain on entry to Banff National Park.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the national and provincial parks, however costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
$1595 CDN includes certified guide, local transfers, meals, hut accommodations, park entry and wilderness passes. You will need to bring adequate clothing and equipment for a backcountry ski traverse. Goods & Services Tax (GST) is extra.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Is it for you?
Guests on this trip should be advanced backcountry skiers or splitboarders in all conditions. There are a variety of descents on this trip that require skiing blue/black type runs wearing a 45-50lb pack. Participants don’t need to be experts, however you must be able to safely descend these slopes. Previous ski mountaineering experience on a course such as the Intro to Ski Mountaineering or the Wapta Traverse is required.
Understanding the prerequisites should help with your training throughout the winter. Winter ski tours and walks with a 45-50lb pack is recommended as the best training, however other activities such as cross country skiing and hiking can also be good training. Please read the itinerary and difficulty sections and be both physically and mentally prepared for the trip. If you are uncertain about your experience level, please call us.
PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO CONTACT US IF YOU NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS COURSE!