Attempting the WaptaWapta attempt number 1.
On April 3rd myself and couple compadres were just leaving the bustling city of Revelstoke at the crack of 3 am for an early start on the Peyto approach of the Wapta traverse. Starting out at 0800 local time, it wasn't exactly the early start we were looking for and the - 24c on the lake sure was surprising. Now I won't bore you with route descriptions as they can all be found HERE but I will provide a short trip summary. First off, I'm new to traversing and my partners even newer but I have some holes in my resume that needed to be filled, so there we were walking across Peyto lake for what seemed like forever. The crux of day 1 comes at the top of a moraine feature and presents some avalanche hazard in combination with a significant terrain trap. After the crux, some really great, heavy backpack boot packing leads you to the top of the moraine and you can ski down to the toe of Peyto glacier. With 300cm on the glaciers, travel was very straightforward. We made it to the hut in 6.5 hours and enjoyed the comforts of the Peyto hut and glorious sunshine. Peyto was by far my favourite hut. The sitting area has an amazing corner window and was great place to watch the day slip away over coffees and laughs. Soon the sun went down and the indoor temperature dropped as quickly as the sun did behind the horizon. Peyto is not heated so plan your sleeping situation accordingly. We were lucky enough to have the northern lights on full display making the icefield feel even more surreal.
Toe of Peyto Glacier
From Peyto Hut
Mt RhondaSunset over Mt Baker
Day two. We had yet another bluebird day despite moderate winds. We gained the shoulder of Mt Rhonda for a bump run down to bow hut where we met the rest of our party joining us from Banff. We dropped as much weight in the hut as we good and made a push for Mt Gordon, stood on the summit at around 17:30 and had a really fun ski down the north side next to huge seracs and returned to Bow for the evening. Bow is the biggest and most comfortable hut on the Wapta hut system. With two wood stoves, indoor outhouses ( seriously ) and probably the most stunning window views it makes backcountry living super comfortable.
Rhonda bump run
At the bottom
Not another St Nicholas shot.
View from the kitchen of Bow hut
En route Gordon
Super difficult route finding. Not everything needs to be difficult.
Summit, looking into Yoho
Day three, the day my camera died, sorry no photos. We
headed off to the Balfour hut with the intent of skiing Vulture col for a more direct route and more exciting skiing. Unfortunately all that wind the previous day blew in a warm and moist system from the southwest driving alpine temperatures to 0c at 2850m. Earlier that morning I said out loud that a little part of me wanted whiteout conditions just for the experience and sure enough, we got it, despite recanting my statement immediately and knocking on wood. We opted for the St Nicholas/Olive col and made our way to Balfour by braille. While this was great experience it was not a great experience. After a few hours of slow travel through the clag, we made it Balfour hut. While we had plenty of time and energy to do some more skiing the whiteout conditions persisted. We opted to stay hut bound and study the next days objective which was the Balfour high col and onto Scott Duncan hut.
Day four. More clag. We could sometimes see the Nunatak below the crux of the route but mostly we were staring at a milk bowl. The previous night had very strong winds and light precipitation and temperatures at 2400m were now sitting +1c. We decided to make an attempt regardless but were turned around at the end of the moraine just before the traverse below the icefall and to the Nunatak. It started snowing and the visibility was deteriorating further. After some difficult discussion, we turned around and returned to the bow hut via St Nicholas/ Olive col for a late lunch and a ski out the Bow approach in the rain.
While we weren't able to complete the route the Wapta offered many lessons and incredible views. I would highly recommend it to anyone. I will certainly return to complete the route and to stand on a few more peaks. Can't wait till the next time.