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 $1,433 USD / €1,216 / £1,080) + 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)

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 two 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.

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.

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.

Booking & Payment

Payment, Booking Conditions

Please use our Online Registration Form before proceeding with any payment. It’s a two-step process, requiring you to read through and sign the waiver first, and then collects your personal information securely. If you have any questions or do not understand anything to do with the waiver or application form please contact me at twolfe@sawback.com asap.

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. 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. No charge to receive PayPal payments so long as they are complete and in CAD funds.
  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 or USD) at a rate that we agree on (see Royal Bank of Canada’s Currency Conversion for current rates used). No additional fee for cheque payments.

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.

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.

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