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Wapta Icefields approach via the Bow Hut

I did this trip with my Dad and my friend Mark over Easter 2002. The trip gains about 390 meters over a one way distance of 8 km. The hut is perched nicely on top of a rocky cliff overlooking the main drainage for the Bow River, which eventually heads down to Calgary. The hut itself is palatial; far from roughing it. It sleeps 30 people, but book in advance, because this thing could get crowded. A full line of amenities at this luxurious hut makes it the most popular approach to the Wapta Icefields. For more information consult Chic Scott's Summits and Icefields.

This is where you start off for the approach to the bow hut. Park at Num-ti-jah lodge, and ski across Bow Lake. Don't forget to make sure that the ice is thick enough (and that you turn off your lights! Long story!). Ski across the lake then up the river flats on the far side, until the river walls start closing in. Look for a path heading up the into the trees on the left side of the gorge, and continue though thick trees and increasingly steep terrain (don't forget you skins!) until you come out onto a viewpoint on the side of Crowfoot, with a view of the Bow Glacier headwall. You have now circumvented the 1st canyon.

Once you get into the opening with the view of the Bow Glacier headwall, turn left and continue up a stream until you come into another canyon, except this one you cannot get around. Even though the walls are extremely steep, they are not too too high, but keep moving anyways. I'm sure that the snow tumbles down from above every once in a while. Look out for the stream as well. It is frequently open in some places. If in doubt, look for a trail or make your own heading up out of the canyon on the left, and continue going parallel with the canyon until you reach a giant bowl, which you can see in the background of the picture.

Once you break out of the canyon, you'll find yourself in this huge bowl with a giant headwall in front of you, and the Bow Hut sitting on top of a cliff to your right. Cut straight across, and do not try and swing a wide line in effort to save elevation. For those who don't think this place is dangerous, look in the guidebook section for Avalanche Safety. On the cover you will see why you should move fast through here! Once you're beneath the final snow slope heading up to the hut, you're pretty much home free, except for the never ending slope in front of you. Don't venture too far off to the right, though! It's still a big drop. You can see the party behind us in the bowl in this picture.

The best balcony view in the world! You can see the ascent route below Mark and I. This is from the balcony just outside the kitchen. The hut itself is 2 seperate buildings separated by a fireproof vestibule connecting the two, and the outhouse at the back. One of the buildings is the unheated sleeping area with 1 room for the custodian and 3 rooms which each hold 10 people (5 on top bunk and 5 on bottom). The common area/kitchen has tables, stoves and lights which are propane powered. The propane is provided. Hardly roughing it! Be careful not to bring your food into the sleeping area, though. When we were there a rodent was chewing through stuff, and the kitchen is locked, so keep it in the food cubicles there. Make sure the person in your room does't snore! My Dad warned me about this, but it was him who came out with the snoring symphony during the night! If I hit him just hard enough not to wake him, it would stop the snoring for 5 minutes or so, so I kept to that routine. back to ski page