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Backcountry Skiing in the Wapta Traverse

Tom Wolfe, Sawback Alpine Adventures, Jeff Bullock, Alpine Air Adventures
Trip options

Booking for a group?
Reserve spots for 5 or more people, and get $36 off for each
1 Person
6 day
Tom Wolfe, Sawback Alpine Adventures, Jeff Bullock, Alpine Air Adventures
Reserve deposit (10%) $0
Second Payment Amount: $0
  • Make your way to Canada’s magnificent icefields for 6 days of unforgettable ski touring! Test your skills on the classic Wapta Traverse, with high-quality huts, phenomenal dry powder and breathtaking vistas. Your experienced local guide will make sure that your touring goes by safely and without a hitch.

    • Meet your guides and your team at 6:30 pm 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.

      Ski Touring in the Wapta Traverse
    • After introductions followed by a quick equipment check and distribution of group gear and food. Be sure you have already eaten breakfast; lunch and the meals for the rest of the trip will be provided. Join your guides for a drive to the trailhead at Peyto Lake. Shuttle drivers will accompany you to bring vehicles back to the trail’s end. Ski for the next 5 to 8 hours until you arrive at Peyto Hut, where food will be waiting for you—courtesy of our energetic portering staff.
      The duration of skiing from Peyto Lake to Peyto Hut depends on conditions and group speed. Spend the night at the Peyto Hut.

      A group of tourers near a slope on the Wapta Traverse
    • The mountains around Peyto Hut provide excellent ski touring objectives. You will stay at the Peyto Hut an extra night to enjoy the area!

      Tourers walking in a line on the Wapta Traverse
    • Enjoy the spectacular ski over to Balfour Hut, which usually brings you up and over the Olive-St. Nicholas Col. After a relaxing lunch stop at Balfour Hut, spend the afternoon chasing a ski objective such as laps on the Diableret Glacier.

      A tourer pointing to a cliff on the Wapta Traverse
    • The traverse over the Balfour High Col is usually the highlight and crux of the trip. Ascend over heavily crevassed terrain next to the stunning serac-fringed east face of Mt. Balfour. After attaining the col, if conditions permit, ascend one of the nearby peaks like Lilliput or even Balfour’s South Face.

      A tourer below a hill on the Wapta Traverse
    • All good things must come to an end. After a short run down from the Scott Duncan Hut, it takes about 30 minutes of gentle climbing to reach the Shark’s Fin. From there it’s mostly downhill to get to the intersection of Niles and Sherbrooke Creeks, where the gurgling of spring snowmelt, birdsong, and the smell of spruce trees presents a sharp contrast with the alpine world you settled into during the trip. After about five hours of travel, you will reach your cars. Expect to be back in Canmore by dinner time.

      Sherbrooke Creek in 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 Wapta 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 you get in this adventure: 

        • An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
        • Guided three-day, four-day, or six-day ski touring
        • For the three & four day tour, you get…
          • All meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on the last day
          • Permits
          • Huts
        • For the six-day tour, you get…
          • Food during the tour
          • Permits
          • Huts
          • Shuttle service (to bring guest vehicles back to Field for the end of the trip)
          • Porter service
          • Group equipment

      What’s not included:

        • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
        • Transportation to Field, BC
        • Vehicles for shuttle (bring your own or carpool)
        • Accommodations before and after the tour
        • Vehicles for the shuttle (bring your own or carpool)
        • Guide gratuities — optional
    • 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 3-6 full days, covering 6-10 miles (10-15km) or more 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.

    • 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. 

      If you’ve never backcountry skied before, we suggest joining a guide for a day of Intro to Backcountry Skiing.

    • 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 for the Comfortable Six-Day Tour)
        • 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
        • Three 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 bagthree-season bag rated between -7 and -9°C
        • Stuff sack — optional, but recommended
        • Insulated booties or sandals
        • Camera — optional
    • 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 can be rented in Lake Louise, Field, and Banff
        • 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 us 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:

        • 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 Wapta 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 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.

    • To get to the Wapta Traverse, most people fly into Calgary International Airport 2,5 hours away. From there, you can rent a car or take a bus straight to Field, Lake Louise, or Banff, depending on your chosen tour.

      Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet. This will be at the Truffle Pigs Bistro & Lodge in Field, BC, for the Comfortable Six-Day tour, or a different pre-determined location for the 3 and 4-Day Tours. From there, you’ll head to your tour.

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