Bow Yoho Traverse April 1-7, 2019

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Dates: Monday, April 1 to Sunday, April 7, 2019

Price:$1,795 CAD (Currently $1,420 USD / €1,257 / £1,129) + 5% GST

Deposit: 50% payment secures your booking. Balance of payment is due January 1, 2018. See Payment and Booking Conditions tab for details

The classic Wapta Traverse runs roughly north-south across the expanse of the Wapta and Waputik Icefields passing by four ACC huts. The east-west crossing, from Bow Lake to Takkakaw Falls and the #1 Highway near Field, BC is a classic traverse in its own right, but a much more serious one due to the 20-km crossing between the Bow and Stanley Mitchell huts. The new Louise and Richard Guy Hut at Mont des Poilus breaks up this crossing, making the trip safer and more comfortable and accessible.

The first documented crossing of the Bow-Yoho Traverse was made in summer, 1910 by the renowned Austrian guide, Conrad Kain. Kain guided the route in six days from Laggan (present day Lake Louise) with pack horses to Bow Lake and included a first ascent of Mont des Poilus on July 31, his 27th birthday. (ACC)

Logistics

We will meet for dinner at the Truffle Pigs Cafe in Field at 6:00 pm. After dinner we'll have a look through your equipment to make sure everything is in order as well as distribute group equipment.

Please be on time: However, if for some unforeseen reason you cannot make it, please give me a call or text ASAP, Tom Wolfe at 403-707-9996.

I look forward to spending the week together with you and exploring the amazing ski terrain that the Bow Yoho Traverse has to offer!

Difficulty

Difficulty

  • Hut to hut traverse, carrying heavy packs (up to 20 kg / 45 lb)
  • Hut elevations are approximately 2200 m with 700 m vertical and covering 10-15 km/day on average (5 to 7 hrs travel).
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Powder skiing and ski mountaineering

Equipment List

Packing Notes:

You need to bring all of the following personal equipment. Please don’t bring extra equipment. If you have any questions at all about gear please do not hesitate to contact us.

Ski crampons are a must for spring ski touring, and they can make a big difference even on a powder skiing week at times. If you have any difficulty obtaining these please let me know. We have some spares and can likely set you up with a pair. If you have telemark bindings, G3 crampons have an attachment system that works well for most tele bindings.

Wapta and Bow Yoho Equipment List

Ski mountaineering gear

  • Skis, preferably with tech-style Alpine Touring (AT) bindings, 150-185 cm in length, wide (100 mm+ at waist) for powder skiing. Telemark, frame-style AT bindings, or splitboards are acceptable as well, please contact us if you plan to bring one or these alternate touring systems.
  • Ski crampons
  • Climbing skins
  • Ski Poles with powder baskets
  • Ski Boots
  • Climbing harness (light weight if possible)
  • Locking carabiners (2), non-locking biners (2)
  • Prusik cord (1)
  • 120 cm sewn sling (1)
  • Avalanche Transceiver – a modern digital unit
  • Collapsible Avalanche Probe
  • Avalanche Shovel (lightweight snow shovel designed for companion rescue)
  • Backpack (at least 65 L, large enough for sleeping bag, spare clothes, and your share of group food & equipment) rentals available

Other gear

  • Sunglasses and ski goggles
  • Water bottle (at least 1 liter capacity)
  • Thermos for Hot Drinks (optional but recommended,~750 mL)
  • Sun block
  • Lip cream
  • Pocket knife and/or leatherman multi-tool
  • Sleeping Bag. We recommend a three season bag rated between -7 to -9°C. Bring a compression stuff sac so you have room in your pack for other things.
  • Headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Small Blister and personal First-Aid Kit
  • Camera
  • Personal Toilet Items (keep to a bare minimum)
  • Toilet paper
  • Large stuff sack for carrying food
  • Ear Plugs for dorm sleeping (optional but recommended)
  • Insulated Booties or Sandals

Clothing

  • Long wool or synthetic (e.g. polyester or polypropylene) 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
  • Neck tube or balaclava
  • Sun hat

Your guide will bring all of the necessary group gear. If you are in need of loaner/rental gear please arrange with us ahead of time to provide it for you. We have most of what you might possibly need available either at an inexpensive rental rate or free of charge depending on the item.

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Booking & Payment

Book Now to hold your spot!

The Book Now form takes about 60 seconds to complete. We will hold your spot until we contact you to answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. Then we’ll get you to complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms before paying your deposit.

Before signing through these documents read through them carefully and make sure you are comfortable with what you’re signing up for, and have a look through the booking “fine print” below. If you have any questions at any time do not hesitate to contact us.

Payment and booking conditions fine print

A deposit (typically 50%; see the trip description for the exact amount) to secure your place is  due upon booking. Final payment of balance is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless specified otherwise on the trip information page and/or your invoice. You will be invoiced for your payments after you have confirmed your interest in the trip. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments (the remainder) are non-refundable after the final payment date.

Credit Card payments are encouraged, especially if you have a card with trip cancellation insurance! Charges are made in CAD (foreign payments are converted to your local currency at your card company’s rate). We charge an additional 3.5% fee for card transactions. If your credit card provides you with cancellation insurance for this trip indicate this on your registration form and we will lower the convenience fee to 2%.  Cancelled trips that have cancellation insurance are much less of a headache for everyone. Please consider this option. It could be a very affordable way to protect yourself. But look carefully into your credit card’s fine print to make sure this trip is covered.

Non Credit Card Payments from Canadian clients: If you do not wish to pay by credit card we ask that you pay by E-transfer, sent to twolfe@sawback.com. There is no additional fee for Canadian E-transfers.

Non Credit Card Payments from outside Canada (US, Europe, other countries):

  1. Third party electronic transfer: You will need to fill out an agreement with our currency broker, Ken Fukami from Payline in Canmore, that includes your banking information to coordinate an electronic transfer (SEPA, EFT, etc.) There is no charge for this service and it is $50-100 cheaper than all other methods of payment from foreign clients. Contact us, or visit Payline’s website for details.
  2. PayPal: send money via PayPal to twolfe@sawback.com. There is a 4% charge to receive PayPal payments unless you send funds using the “P2P” a.k.a. “Friends and Family” method, which may cost the sender a small fee but does not cost us anything on our end, so no fee.
  3. Wire draft (bank to bank): Your bank wires our bank the money in CAD. We charge a $20 CAD fee for receiving these payments.
  4. Cheque: in either CAD or in your local currency (e.g. EUR, GBP, USD) at the rate listed on the trip information page on our website on the date of your booking.

Mailing address: Please send cheques in CAD to Thomas Wolfe, 234 Grizzly Cr, Canmore, AB T1W1B5, Canada

All fees paid are 100% non-refundable. We cannot be held liable for cancellations of any kind. Therefore we strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation and evacuation insurance to protect you in the event that you need to cancel or there is an emergency during your trip. The Alpine Club of Canada and Lifetstyle Financial (BCLBC Plan) both offer plans for trips like this that might interest you although we can’t personally vouch for them. Note that many credit cards carry this insurance for trips paid with the credit card — contact your credit card company to be sure.

Many of our trips are in remote locations. If you are injured or develop an emergency medical condition that requires evacuation, significant costs may be involved. We cannot be liable for the costs of emergency evacuation and so you are therefore encouraged to sign up for third party rescue insurance. The most robust plan we know if is through Global Rescue Services which services all areas we run trips to including Svalbard. You may choose to go with another but be warned that there are often exclusions that will render your insurance worthless when you need it. Global Rescue membership is $119 USD for a one-week trip — and it will cover you.

You must sign our Waiver of Liability in order to register for participation in our trips. You can view a printable copy the waiver here: English Waiver and translated into several other languages (German, French and Japanese) here: Translated Waivers.  If you have any questions about the waiver please talk to your lawyer and/or let me know prior to registration so I can help you.

The application form collects personal information which I use to make sure that I provide you with the best possible trip experience. If you do not want to answer any of the questions or you are unsure about anything leave it blank and/or contact me for clarification.

READ CAREFULLY – BOOKING, RESERVATION, DEPOSIT: A deposit of 50% of the total price or private guiding fee is due with your booking unless otherwise indicated. Please provide us with your credit card details, do a bank transfer (account information on demand), send an E-transfer to twolfe@sawback.com or mail me a personal cheque payable to Thomas Wolfe. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. If you wish to pay in a currency other than what our trips are quoted in, please inquire with us for a quote in your preferred denomination. Euro payments are only accepted by bank transfers in Euro denomination. We also accept bookings from minors; however we do require the signature of BOTH parents or ALL legal guardians on both, reservation form and liability waiver. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of the booking form with your check or credit card details we confirm your booking. Each Backountry Ski Trip we offer has a detailed Information Package (available on our website) with the trip details, equipment list, proposed itinerary and logistics, etc. Read through this carefully before completing your registration. TRIP (CANCELLATION / MEDICAL / EVACUATION / THEFT) INSURANCE: Once we confirm your booking, we enter into financial obligations on our side and we cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, we highly recommend buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”. Also, all participants need to have internationally accepted health insurance for all activities pertaining to the trip, including coverage for emergency rescue and evacuation. If you already have insurance, please make sure that you will be covered for “roped travel” booking a technical trip including “Via Ferrata” trips. We gladly refer you to a travel insurance provider who offers “adventure travel insurance packages” and with whom our clients have had positive claims experiences in the past. Generally, you will receive the best benefits if you buy your insurance within 10 days of our booking confirmation. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). Please see the trip information package for details on your trip’s Cancellation Policy. If the vacant spot can be filled due to efforts by our office, we retain an administration fee of 15% of your total trip price. CANCELLED PROGRAMS: Once we confirm your booking, we guarantee your trip departure. However, we do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force us to do so or should the physical condition of the participants (see below), weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. PERSONAL FITNESS and GROUP TRAVEL: Our programs rely heavily on the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the necessary skill and fitness level for a particular trip. When in doubt, please call and discuss this with us! For the protection of yourself and other group members, we reserve the right to deny participation to any unprepared participant at any time of the trip, in which case we cannot offer a refund! In order to accommodate diverse levels of ability and ambition as well as diverse personalities, the decision making of the guide has to be geared towards safety and finding a consensus within the whole group, which may not please each individual participant at all times.

Snow & Climate

Snowpack and Climate

April is the best month to do the Rockies hut traverses. Early April is likely to be a bit cooler and have powder skiing even on the solar aspects. The Rockies has a thinner snowpack than the Selkirks or Coast mountains, but by April the snowpack tends to be robust and the crevasses well covered. Expect temperatures in the -10C to 0C range, but be prepared for lows as cold as -20C or highs up to +5C!

Itinerary

Itinerary

Day 1: Monday, April 1 - Truffle Pigs Bistro & Lodge, Field, BC

6:00 pm -- Introductions over dinner in Field, BC at the “Truffle Pigs Bistro” (dinner is included in your trip fees). In case you haven’t heard of it -- this is one of the finest restaurants in the Canadian Rockies! After dinner it’s back to your rooms where your guide will pay you a brief visit for an equipment check and distribution of group gear and food.

Day 2: Tuesday, April 2 - Bow Hut

8:00 am -- a leisurely breakfast, again at the Truffle Pigs cafe. Bagged lunches will be provided by Kicking Horse Lodge. Make sure your backpacks and ski gear are packed and ready to go.

9:00 am -- depart for the trailhead at Bow Lake (Num-ti-jah Lodge parking lot)

The ski from Bow Lake to Bow Hut takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours depending on conditions and group speed. There should be time left at the end of a day for a quick lap on the awesome slopes above Bow Hut at the end of the day.

Day 3: Wednesday, April 3 - Guy Hut

Traverse day. We’ll set our course west for the Guy Hut, traversing over the Gordon-Rhondda pass, over the Yoho Glacier’s gnarly icefall, below the spectacular Mt. Collie, and a short distance down to our hut below Yoho Peak.

Day 4: Thursday, April 4 - Guy Hut

Peak bagging day. The Guy Hut is not only the premiere hut on the Wapta, it’s also an excellent staging point for many of the great ski runs in the area including Yoho Peak N and SE faces, Des Poilus SE face, the subpeak to the north of Des Poilus, Mt. Collie, to name the plums of the area!

Day 5: Friday, April 5 - Stanley Mitchell Hut

There are two ways to get to Stanley Mitchell Hut, both pretty darned exciting. The first, over Isolated Col, is steep and relentlessly exposed to avalanche hazard on both the north and south sides. The second is over the Whaleback, which has less avalanche hazard and which in the right conditions offers a good ski descent through a lightly treed avalanche path to the valley bottom and then a trudge up-valley to the famous and ancient Stanley Mitchell Hut. In the winter of 2018 -- all three times! -- avalanche hazard was low, so we dropped our loads at the top of Isolated col for a hot lap on the outstanding 300 m north facing side (back towards Des Poilus) for an outstanding powder run, and completed the day in style with a long descent down the south side. This old log structure has been shelter to thousands of skiers since the early days of mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies.

Day 6: Saturday, April 6 - Stanley Mitchell Hut

If you’re in the Little Yoho Valley with the wood stove crackling then you will definitely want to stay for at least one more night…. So that’s our plan. Our last full day of adventure offers opportunities at bagging the Presidents, Mount MacArthur, Isolated Peak, Mt. Kerr, or doing some cool loop trips or storm skiing on the Vice President trees or glacier.

Day 7: Sunday, April 7 - Trip conclusion

The ski out from Stanley Mitchell Hut is best if you can head up over the Iceline trail and out via Yoho Pass and Emerald Lake Lodge. This requires good stability and cool conditions, so we might have to slog out via Takakkaw Falls road. Either way, we will aim to be back in Field by 2 pm at the latest. This is the end of the trip. You have the option of kicking back by the shores of the Kicking Horse for another night (extra charge applies) or jetting back home.

Staff

Staff

Tom Wolfe (Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA) has been guiding since moving to Canmore in 1995, the place he calls home with wife, son and daughter. He guides year around, with winters being a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations throughout western Canada. He has been involved with the Alpine Club of Canada for over 20 years including running the summer Mountain Mentorship Program for the Toronto Section, and winter ski trips for the Vancouver Section. He has been invited as a speaker at the Vancouver Section’s November 27, 2019 -- your chance to meet him in person! Email: twolfe@sawback.com, Cell: (403) 707-9996

The Bow Yoho Traverse - a new Wapta Classic!

For decades, the Wapta Traverse has had a legendary reputation as a destination for ski mountaineering. Really, it has it all: an excellent hut system, perfect terrain for traverses, and easy access to excellent ski mountaineering objectives. The best time of the year is late March to late April when the snowpack is settled and you can still count on dry powder runs; this trip is right in that perfect window.

A near neighbour, the Bow-Yoho Traverse, crosses the Wapta at about a 90 degree angle. It is just as good, but it has only gained popularity recently, with the addition of the ACC's most deluxe hut yet: the Richard and Louise Guy Hut. Situated between Bow and Stanley Mitchell Huts it turns a daunting 12+ hr day into two short days.

This new hut also provides a staging point for objectives around the Des Poilus Glacier zone: Mt. Collie, Mt. Des Poilus, and Yoho Peak are a few of the options that previously required either very long days from huts, or a high camp. Now you’ve got the state-of-the-art Guy Hut to return to at the end of the day! We will spend our first nights at the Bow Hut, two nights at the Guy Hut, and a final two nights at Stanley Mitchell Hut.

Our traverse begins in Field, B.C. with a gourmet dinner at the famous Truffle Pigs Bistro, as well as a hotel stay - both included in the trip price! I've found that this is a great way to set the tone for my Wapta trips and a great chance to mingle with the group before the tour begins.

This itinerary is longer than some other Bow-Yoho trips offered, giving us more time to explore the incredible ski mountaineering available instead of putting our heads down and charging through the traverse.

A printable version of this information package can be found here.