Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service – Bishop, CA

Skiing Canada’s Wapta traverse

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Over the years John Miller has done a bunch of trans Sierra ski trips with SMC. Given this year’s low snow fall in California it was just as well that we decided to head north to Canada to do a hut to hut ski across the Wapta Traverse out of Lake Louise in Alberta.

Along on the trip were John’s sons Cooper and Rob, Marc Shea and SMC guides SP Parker and Andrew Soleman. We met in Calgary and headed out to Canmore the first day.  SP and Andrew had arrived the prior day to get everything organized and food shopped for.

Day two was a little delayed due to a pair of boots being left behind in the hotel but the rewards were a half day skiing at Lake Louise resort and a night of luxury at the Chateau Lake Louise.

We finally headed out up the Bow Valley to the luxurious Bow hut. The hut here will sleep up to 30 people and has a couple of wood stoves to keep things nice and toasty inside. Skiing behind the hut was wonderful dry Canada powder.

On Day 3 we headed out across the icefields, a vast expanse of flat ice and snow blending into the clouds. The crossing of Saint Nicholas Col was uneventful and we travelled on to Scott Duncan hut. The weather closed in some and battered the hut. The next day things seemed to be clearing some so we headed out to cross the Balfor High Col. This is the high point of the trip and involves negotiating crevasses and a small icefall. We got into this when the weather fully closed down and reduced our visibility to next to nothing. Not wanting to wanted around crevasses with no visibility we beat a retreat back to the hut – and scotch.

The next day was the clearest of the trip weather wise and and under a cold clear sky we headed back to Bow Hut with 12 inches of new powder. Once again the hut hill gave us the best snow so we dropped packs and did a couple of laps before heading back out to the vehicles and the earthy delights of Canmore. Especially the Grizzly Paw brew pub with it “Rutting Elk Red”

All in all it was a great trip, with great friends, great snow and the delight of being able to ski with a light pack from comfy hut to hut surrounded by incredible scenery.

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Written by SP Parker

April 12, 2012 at 3:00 am

Posted in Backcountry Skiing

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