It was my great pleasure to have spent the last few days with John and Elli from the UK on the Wapta Icefields. We headed in to this magnificent area in dubious weather yet managed to evade the rain on the first day, until the last few hundred feet on the headwall. Wapta is the Stoney native word for running water and it sure fit in this instance. I wasn’t too concerned though as we had a nice warm wood heated Bow hut as our destination and I knew after a hot cup or two of tea we would all be comfy. The hike in was beautiful and although we didn’t see mama grizzly and her two offspring, as did the group travelling the day before, we did encounter a marmot and pika who kept us amused during our snack break.
Bow hut has been freshly renovated and sports a spanking new kitchen area with all the tools of a fine restaurant. After our bri and crackers, the rice and curry dinner was enough to settle us into a mellow mood with some fine conversation and stories with the other mountaineers sharing the hut.
Our next day started in a whiteout. Travelling inside a ping pong ball is not uncommon on the Wapta but as they say in Alberta, if you don’t like the weather… wait ten minutes. After wandering out onto the glacier via GPS signal, the skies turned blue and we had clear sailing on firm snow over to Mt. Thompson. On this traverse, from Bow glacier to Peyto glacier, the surrounding peaks are numerous and absolutely stunning. Of course after a leisurely lunch at the base of Mt Thompson (ca: 10,000ft), we had no choice but to ascend. Onward and upward we attained the summit in several hours and were rewarded with an amazing view of countless Rocky Mountain peaks.
That night, safely ensconced in the Peter and Catherine White Hut we watched the sun set over Mt Baker with our bellies filled with chef Jen’s pasta dinner making us happy and complacent. No weight to be lost on this trip.
The trip out from Peyto was in itself yet another journey of different dimensions. As Elli remarked, “A little bit of everything on this hike.” Glacier travel, uphill, down hill, moraines, river crossings (via a log bridge), forested, open delta and finally an amazing view of Petyo Lake as we ascended up through the forest to the pick up area.
This is truly an amazing journey. The Wapta Ice hikes is one of my favourite trips in the Canadian Rockies and I was fortunate to have been able to share it with Elli and John.
Dave Stark – Director of Operations