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Backcountry Skiing in the Bow-Yoho Traverse

Bow-Yoho Traverse | British Columbia
5.00
4 REVIEWS
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to go ski touring in the Bow-Yoho Traverse

  • Trip Highlight

    Conquer British Columbia’s once inaccessible peaks

  • Trip Highlight

    Spend your nights in Bow-Yoho’s cozy and modern huts

  • Trip Highlight

    Try storm skiing, one of the most breathtaking experiences you can have in the backcountry

The stunning Bow-Yoho traverse, running from Bow Lake to the Yoho Valley, has lived in the shadow of its neighbor—the famous Wapta Traverse—for years. However, it has recently started catching up to the competition, thanks in great part to the addition of the Richard and Louise Guy Hut, by far the most deluxe hut in the area. Some of British Columbia’s most scenic peaks—which were previously reachable only through days of walking or high camping—are now more accessible than ever before! The Yoho and des Poilus glaciers abound with ski traversal and powder hunting opportunities, and the cozy huts add a level of sophistication and comfiness to the rough Canadian backcountry. You even get the opportunity to ski in a storm—what’s not to love!

Season

February through April

Nearest city

Calgary, AB, is 2,5h away from Field, the starting point of the tour

Duration

7 days

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced

Itineraries

Book this adventure

Ski Touring in the Bow-Yoho Traverse

7 days

Head to Canada’s spectacular Bow-Yoho Traverse for a week of conquering peaks, running awesome slopes, and enjoying fantastic nature. Spend your nights in rustic and cozy flagship huts, and your days traversing and shredding British Columbia’s stunning powder. An experienced local guide will be there to show you the best that the Bow-Yoho has to offer!

Trip Highlights

Itinerary

Day 1: Truffle Pigs Bistro & Lodge

Meet your guide and team over dinner in Field, BC, at the Truffle Pigs Bistro. After dinner, retreat to your room. Your guide will take you through an equipment check and distribution of group gear and food.

Truffle Pigs Bistro in BC

Day 2: Bow Hut

After a leisurely breakfast, pick up your lunches provided by the Kicking Horse Lodge. Make sure your backpacks and ski gear are packed and ready to go. At 9:00 AM, depart for the trailhead at Bow Lake from the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge parking lot. The ski tour from Bow Lake to Bow Hut takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours depending on conditions and group speed.
If there’s enough time, run a quick lap on the awesome slopes above Bow Hut at the end of the day.

Traveling in the Bow-Yoho Traverse

Day 3: Guy Hut

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

Skiing the hills of the Bow-Yoho Traverse

Day 4: Yoho Peak and Des Poilus

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! While most of the objectives are ideal in fair weather, there’s a tree run that provides amazing storm skiing.

Yoho Glacier in British Columbia

Day 5: Stanley Mitchell Hut

Pick one of two ways to get to Stanley Mitchell Hut, both equally exciting. The first takes you over Isolated Col.It is steep and relentlessly exposed to avalanche hazards on both the north and south sides. The second is over the Whaleback, which is less exposed to avalanches 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. If avalanche hazard is low, drop your load at the top of Isolated Col for a hot lap on the amazing 300 m (950 ft) north-facing side for an outstanding powder run, and complete the day in style with a long descent down the south side!

A ski tourer resting on the Bow-Yoho Traverse

Day 6: Bagging the Presidents

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. Take the chance to bag the Presidents, Mount MacArthur, Isolated Peak, Mt. Kerr, or use the opportunity for some loop trips or storm skiing on the Vice President trees or glacier.

Skiing down a hill on the Bow-Yoho Traverse

Day 7: Return

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 you might have to slog out via Takakkaw Falls road. Your guide will aim to have you back in Field by early afternoon. Take the time to kick back by the shores of the Kicking Horse for another night, or just jet back home.

A firepit and some spirits at the Emerald Lake Lodge
Reviews

Reviews (4)

Marilyn F. about Sawback Alpine Adventures on Google Reviews

An awesome trip with a great, conscientious, and professional guide. Definitely felt that Tom listened to the whole crew and took our collective objectives, safety, weather, snow conditions, and skillsets to get the maximum we could have out of our Bow-Yoho traverse over New Year 2018. Super fun trip and lots of hilarious and educational stories and experiences Tom shared with us. And Eric was great in lending a hand where needed and carrying a ton of weight too. Would definitely recommend both Tom and Eric for any high adventure trips and any furthering of backcountry education. Not only do they really know their craft, but they also present their knowledge in a smooth and easy way for all to understand and learn from. Great guides, great guys. All five stars for sure!

David T. about Sawback Alpine Adventures on Google Reviews

Tom Wolfe guided our group across the Bow-Yoho Traverse, and I can confidently say he is the best guide for the job. Despite the inclement weather and touchy terrain in our tour, I knew Tom was constantly assessing and minimizing risk for our group, and that our safety was at the forefront. He’s also a great person and our group enjoyed sharing stories and blasting through plenty of untouched powder on our tour. Overall 10/10 for Tom and the crew at Sawback Alpine Adventures, I’d highly recommend him to my friends, family, or anyone looking for a fantastic guide.

Helen W. about Sawback Alpine Adventures on Google Reviews

We had two amazing ski trips with Tom Wolfe of Sawback Alpine Adventures last winter – one on the Bow-Yoho Traverse where we spent a week crossing the ice fields and exploring the nearby glaciers and peaks and a second at Valhalla Mountain Touring where we skied epic powder every day for a week. I would highly recommend Sawback Alpine Adventures and am looking forward to next year’s ski trip with Tom!

Lee L. about Sawback Alpine Adventures on Google Reviews

The Bow-Yoho Traverse April 1 to April 7, 2019. Tom, the guides (Mel and Ken), and an assistant (John) led this trip with care, kindness, humor, and expertise. When conditions required it, we were able to form 2 or 3 groups according to abilities and motivation. That was fabulous. Staying the first night in Field with supper and breakfast provided is a great way to begin the trip. The shuttle at the start and the end was well-planned. When I signed up for the trip I had concerns about the quality of the food. Tom reassured me. He was right. Michelle Heerchop’s ‘Touch of Love” provided the food. It was varied, tasty, and nutritious. I am very very pleased that I was able to be part of this trip. I highly recommend Tom’s Sawback Alpine Adventures.

Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in the Bow-Yoho Traverse, British Columbia

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in the Bow-Yoho Traverse, British Columbia, please refer to British Columbia’s Travel and COVID-19 website.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

    • An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • A pre-trip meeting and gourmet dinner at the Truffle Pigs
    • Bistro in Field, BC
    • Six days of backcountry ski touring
    • Food for the duration of the tour
    • Hotel accommodation for the first night of the tour
    • Hut accommodation
    • Parks Canada backcountry permits
    • Drivers to bring guest vehicles back to Field at the end of the trip
    • Porter service
    • Group equipment

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Transportation to Field
    • Vehicles for the shuttle (bring your own or carpool)

How fit do I need to be?

To enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to be in excellent physical shape. You will be on your feet for 5-7 hours a day for 6 full days, covering 6-10 miles (10-15km) of terrain every day. Hut elevations are approximately 7,200ft (2,200m), with 2,300ft (700m) vertical, and you will be doing your hut-to-hut traverse carrying up to 45lbs (20kg) of equipment. You will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging blue or black-level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.

What if I’ve never ski toured before?

To participate in this tour, you need to have previous powder skiing and ski mountaineering experience. You will be skiing, touring, and summiting on glaciated terrain for 5-7 hours every day. Your guide will take care of the planning, oversee your technique, and teach you how to better manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training necessary to keep you safe.

What equipment do I need to bring?

For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:

    • Alpine touring skis, preferably with tech-style AT bindings, 150-185cm in length, wide (can be rented)
    • Ski crampons (mandatory, can be provided by guide)
    • Touring boots and poles with powder baskets (can be rented)
    • Climbing skins
    • Climbing harness
    • Prusik cord and 120 cm sewn sling
    • Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
      • Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver – a modern digital unit
      • Lightweight snow shovel
      • Collapsible avalanche probe

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

    • Backpack (at least 65 L) — can be rented
    • Helmet
    • Sunglasses and ski goggles
    • Long wool or synthetic underwear
    • Extra warm shirt (not cotton)
    • Medium weight fleece sweater
    • Softshell or fleece jacket
    • Softshell pants
    • Insulated jacket (down preferred)
    • Insulated pants (fleece or other synthetic) — optional
    • Waterproof jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or equivalent)
    • Waterproof pants with side zippers (Gore-Tex or equivalent)
    • Socks (wool or synthetic)
    • Wool or fleece hat
    • Waterproof ski mountaineering gloves or mitts
    • Lightweight ski gloves
    • Neck tube or balaclava
    • Sun hat
    • Two conventional locking carabiners and two non-locking biners
    • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
    • Water bottle and 1L of water
    • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
    • First aid kit and small blister kit
    • Personal toiletry kit and toilet paper
    • Large stuff sack for carrying food
    • Sunscreen and lip balm
    • Pocket knife
    • Sleeping bag — three-season bag rated between -7 and -9°C
    • Stuff sack — optional, but recommended
    • Insulated booties or sandals
    • Camera — optional

Can I rent equipment?

All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:

    • Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel, and probe from the guide
    • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots, and poles can be rented in Lake Louise, Field, and Banff
    • Splitboards can be rented in Lake Louise, Field, and Banff

If you plan on using alternate touring systems such as telemark skis, frame-style AT bindings, or splitboards, please contact your guide in advance.
Ski rental locations are in Field, Lake Louise, and Banff and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes:

    • This tour is not private. For the group tour, the max guest-to-guide ratio is 6:1.
    • Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.

Ski touring in the Bow-Yoho Traverse can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
    • Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis. If you plan to ski tour with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

If your group has ski tourers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Field, BC, the starting point of your tour, most people fly into Calgary International Airport 2,5 hours away. From there, you can take a bus straight to Field, take a bus to Lake Louise and a shuttle to Field, or rent a car and drive there.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the Truffle Pigs Bistro & Lodge in Field, BC, or a predetermined location. From there, you’ll head to your tour. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.

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Outdoor adventuring makes us fall in love with our planet and people, it gets our brains rewired differently and forces us to rethink our life priorities.

For years, we’ve dreamt of building a company that can make an impact on things that we deeply care about. Here are some initiatives we are grateful to be contributing to.

1% of our sales goes to environmental non-profits
We provide work to thousands of local guides worldwide
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