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Thread: Wapta Traverse
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 12-06-2012, 06:24 PM
Summit Master
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Finally stopping that crazy suffering that is ice, climbing to concentrate on great ski tours!, .
Interest: Anything that can drag me to the mountains. Backpacking is #1, followed by climbing, dayhiking and camping with family.
Posts: 3,782

You should be capable of navigating on a glacier in total white-out conditions. You don't want to goof and ski off Bow Falls (some folks have come pretty close) as the down slope is sometimes mistaken for the descent to the Bow Hut. You can handrail without too much difficulty to the Balfour Hut. Navigating over the Balfour High Col should not be done in poor/zero vis unless you know exactly where you're going. There are numerous crevasses and other hazards on that section. The descent to Scott Duncan can also be a little challenging, so again, knowing how to navigate in zero vis is essential. Past the Scott Duncan, route finding isn't too hard, but you should be on your game with regards to avy hazard. Some of the slopes between the hut and the lake can be dangerous.

It's not a difficult traverse compared to others, being that each day brings you to a hut, the distances are pretty short, and there are usually lots of other folks around. But, the weather can go to crap in minutes, so as I noted, being adept with map/compass and white-out nav techniques is key.

The days are really short over Christmas, so I'd not be sitting in a hut during daylight, using it instead for moving. It can also be ruddy cold, so go prepared for very cold temps. I have no idea of what the snowpack looks like on the Wapta so far (no MCR reports) so unless some good beta comes along, be prepared to spend lots of time roped and watchful for crevasses.

I'm going again in February, which will be my first winter trip over it. I prefer the long days, warmer temps and deep snow of the spring. It's great to be able to ski unroped with decent confidence.
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