Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wapta Traverse, Part 3

I know, I am such a slacker, but the last 6 weeks have been incredibly busy and all over the place for me. After finishing the wapta, I still had a week of work at VMT, then Rogers Pass and finally Kokanee Glacier. Somewhere in there I also managed a 1 day lap on the Garibaldi Neve Traverse. Now I am sitting on my patio, overlooking the Mediterranean sea and incredible limestone cliffs on the Greek Isle of Kalymnos. A month here will let me catch up on things like my blog on rest days, and get in shape for the rest of the climbing season! Although I can't complain about being out of shape, as 2 weeks into the season I have already onsighted a ton of 5.12s and am getting close to a 13a. More about Greece later. For now, let me finish up with the rest of my ski season.

To be brief but to close off my Wapta traverse, our next day was spent as a day trip from the Bow Hut tagging the summits of St. Nicholas and Mt. Gordan. Nice mellow skis up glaciers the enitre time to get to the summit of Mt. Gordan, and the weather was starting to agree with us. Although it was a 'balmy' -24C that morning, the winds were calm and we managed to even spend a few minutes on the summit, getting an absolutely crystal clear, 360 degree view of the heart of the Canadian Rockies...
Mt Gordan with views towards Mt. Balfour

We skied down the variable conditions to the flats below St. Nic and then 3 of the 4 of us went for the boot pack up to its summit. About an hour round trip, with the use of ice axes, had us moving along and standing on the knife edge summit. It was truly a spectacular spot and we had a blast skiing back down to the warmth of the Bow Hut.

Heading to the summit of St. Nic

Descending from St. Nic

Looking back at Mt. Gordan with a party on the traverse

Skiing home under St. Nic

The next day we packed our bags and headed over the traverse to the Balfour hut, which is situated of course at the base of Mt. Balfour. We got a decent look at our objective, but the clouds and winds started to pick up. After getting to the hut early in the afternoon, we then spent the remainder of our day practicing crevasse rescue right outside the door.

The next morning we awoke to zero visibility, 70km/h winds and 10-15cm of new snow. Needless to say the avalanche danger had increased and we were going to be attempting the crux of the traverse. I decided to have us wait out the weather for a few hours, holding out for an improvement, but alas, it wasn't in the cards for us. Instead we headed back toward the Bow hut, as that is the only other way back to the road. It still involved a few hours of white out navigation with the GPS, and some folks getting knocked over by the severe winds.

Once back in the hut, we warmed up with some tea, and decided to head out that night and have a hot shower and greasy food.

Overall, the trip was a blast, and considering the oppresive arctic conditions, we managed to get a lot done. Everyone had fun, and most importantly, everyone came home with no frostbite and all their fingers and toes intact!

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