wapta Ski Traverse

A Classic Hut-Based Ski Traverse across the Wapta Icefields for Skiers & Splitboarders
 

A classic Wapta traverse is the consummate Canadian high-elevation hut-to-hut ski traverse in Banff National Park, moving through the Wapta Icefields. Spanning more than 40km along the spine of the Continental Divide, the Icefields and Glaciers that compose this incredible and prehistoric expanse, lay home to innumerable blue-ribbon ski mountaineering ascents and descents.
 
The Traverse relies on a network of high mountain huts, maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada, allowing for lightweight travel and comfortable overnight accommodation while en-route. At the foot of each of these huts, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to the volume of superlative ski mountaineering objectives available to us each day. Summit ascents up to elevations of 3292m (10,800ft), and single (ski runs) descents that provide upwards of 900 vertical meters of beautiful fall line skiing and riding. Your next best days ever await.

We offer 3, 4, or 5-day traverses, that offers a whole range of objectives and experiences passing around some super picturesque peaks from the surrounding mountains on the Wapta Icefields. These peaks include Mount Rhondda, St Nic Peak, Mount Olive, and Mount Gordon to name a few. The attempt of these peaks depends heavily on the conditions at the time.

Most of the days start from Bow Lake, a 1.5hr drive from the town of Banff. It is a fantastic opportunity for those adventurous types to explore the Wapta Icefields under guided supervision. 

Bookings require 4 people minimum for each of the programs. The price for each of the programs includes guiding services, Food, Accommodation, the wilderness pass & all glaciated technical equipment. Please see the equipment section at the bottom of the page for more information. 

 

 ICONIC CANADIAN ROCKIES Traverses Available

3, 4, OR 5 DAY PROGRAMS AVAILABLE
 

 TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT INCLUDED*

SUPPORTED BY OUR PARTNERS AT BLACK DIAMOND EQUIPMENT
 

 MEAL PROGRAMS Included

HEALTHY MOUNTAIN MEALS TO KEEP YOUR FURNACE FIRING
 

 Accommodation included

ALL HUT BOOKINGS ARE COVERED

 

 

Meet the C9G Collective:

Robbie Chmelyk - Cloud Nine Guides

3-day Traverse: Bow to Peyto

4-Day traverse: Bow to Balfour

5-Day Traverse: Bow To Yoho

 

3-day TRaverse - Bow To Peyto

This 3-Day traverse offers a great long weekend trip that consists of 2-night hut stay. One night at the Bow hut, with a secondary night stay at the Peyto hut. 

DAY 1

Pre ascent, the day will start off in Lake Louise. Here the guide will run through the days to come, where waivers will be signed and equipment will be checked.

To assist you in arriving smoothly at Lake Louise: You can find our meeting location here.

Once the equipment has been checked a convoy to the Bow Lake Car park where there will be a quick organisation of transport, with a vehicle to be left at the Peyto Lake parking lot, for the journey home.

It is approximately a 4-5 hour scenic ascent up through to the Bow hut. Passing over the cold water creeks that stem from the glacier, touring through some beautiful forest, and breaking into the Moraines as you commence your final ascent up to Bow Hut. It is certainly a great way to build some excitement for the next couple of days. 

Once you have reached the hut, the next task is to put your feet up and get yourself accustomed to the living quarters, as your guide fires up supper. After a quick rest, the guide will give you a quick lesson on how to tie into a glacier travel mode for the next day's travel day. 

Depending on how the timings work out this could offer the opportunity for a summit, or get some fresh turns from the surrounding slopes. 

DAY 2

The approach to Peyto hut is approximately another 5-6 hr tour on Glaciated terrain, approximately 7km in distance. 

After breakfast is served and your bellies are full, a debrief of Glacier travel will be given by your guide. This is so that you are aware of how to move carefully and efficiently through the terrain. Once your guide has taken you through the basics, you will commence your journey to Peyto hut, strolling past iconic peaks, such as St Nic, Mount Rhondda & Mount Habel. 

After a gorgeous scenic walk, Peyto will await your arrival. As you once again get accustomed to your new surroundings, the guide will fire up the kettle for a warm cuppa, and dinner will be served soon after. 

DAY 3

After a lie-in and a slower morning than the previous morning, this gives you an opportunity to take in the surrounding peaks before beginning your descent toward Peyto Lake, your final destination.

A roughly 10.5km descent, to the lake, with an elevation loss of 580m. 

 

4-day Traverse - Bow to Balfour

This 4-day traverse takes you from Bow hut to Balfour hut. 1 night at Bow hut, and 2 nights at the Balfour hut.

DAY 1 

The first day is the same as the day 1 itinerary for our 3-day traverse, so please see above. 

DAY 2

Bow Hut to Balfour Hut is approximately 7km, with an elevation gain of 580m, and a loss of 430m as you descend to Balfour. This is usually a very simple traverse, with the right conditions/ visibility. If the weather isn't good, then this day can take a little longer.  

DAY 3

Balfour Hut has a number of skiing options and great options for those who are looking to bag some peaks. This being the full day at the hut, allows to really get some skiing done. Vulture Peak, Mount Olive, & Mount Gordon, offer viable options, to go and ski, should weather/snowpack conditions allow. 

DAY 4

Day 4 is the exit day, will be a retracing of your tracks back via the Bow hut, back to the Bow Lake parking lot. 

 

5-day traverse - Bow to Yoho

This Traverse is the most famous of the traverses, seeing one night at the Bow hut, two nights at the guy hut and one night at the Stanley Mitchell, before descending down to Yoho. 

DAY 1 

The first day is the same as the day 1 itinerary for our 3-day traverse, so please see above. 

DAY 2

The day starts skiing west towards the open pass between Mount Rhondda and Mount Gordon, after a gentle descent towards the Collie Icefields. Making our way carefully through the broken Glacier, once at the top it is a descent onto the western part of Yoho Glacier. After a couple of ascents and descents brings you to the Guy Hut. 

DAY 3

A day of skiing around the Guy hut will allow for a fantastic opportunity to take in and complete some of those desirable turns.  

DAY 4

The fourth day brings the journey from the Guy hut to Stanley Mitchell. 

DAY 5

From Stanley Mitchell to the end, depending on what time of the year, may take alternative routes for each. Condition dependent on the road. 

 

 

LOGISTICS

 

Guide : Guest Ratios

Our ratios are 1:8 for the Wapta Icefields

Travel to the Lake Louise

Our suggestions for your most efficient way to access the program venue from a variety of locations and international ports of entry:

  • Calgary (YYC) to Lake Louise:
    • Those Guests traveling from, or arriving by air at Calgary International Airport: Your most efficient route to join us at the Columbia Icefields will be through our base in Canmore, Alberta, then following the Trans Can west to Lake Louise, approximately a 2hr drive. A rental car or personal transportation will be required. 
      Find a travel plan here.

  • Edmonton (YEG) to Lake Louise: 
    • Follow AB-2 S and then the Trans Canada Highway West to Lake Louise, approximately a 4hr 30mins drive. A rental car or personal transportation will be required.
      Find a travel plan here.

  • Travelling from British Columbia: 
    • For our Guests travelling and arriving from locations in British Columbia: Please use the following map link to aid in your planning and arrival at, The plan provided commences in Golden, approximately 1hr from Lake Louise.
      Find the travel plan here
       

Early ARRIVALS

ACCOMMODATION & TRIP PREP

For those looking to arrive early ahead of your program, our base in Canmore, Alberta as well as the townsite of Banff, a further 20 minute drive inside the East Gates of Banff National Park, offer a variety or useful pre-trip amenities and comfortable accommodation options. Following are our suggestions for accommodation and gear and equipment retailers to help you prepare:

  • ACCOMMODATION:
     
  • GEAR PURCHASES PRE-TRIP:

    For those looking to purchase gear and equipment prior to your course, we would suggest the following local Bow Valley retailers:

    • Vertical Addiction
      • Located in Canmore, Vertical Addiction offers a complete selection of technical climbing, mountaineering and ski equipment along with a broad selection of technical clothing. 
         
    • SkiUphill
      • Located in Canmore, SkiUphill is a collective of experience driven individuals each with their own history, knowledge and stories of getting out there and getting after it. They offer expertise in backcountry skiing, trail running, climbing and any combination of those activities all while offering the best selection of curated equipment. 
         
    • Monods Sports
      • Located in Banff, Monods is one of the longest operating outdoor equipment and clothing retailers in the Bow Valley. Monods have a large selection of technical clothing and equipment offerings.
         
    • Ortovox
      • Our Partners at Ortovox are known for their high-quality technical outerwear and are a supporting partner of C9G and our ski guiding programs.
         
    • Black Diamond Equipment
      • Black Diamond Equipment has been providing skiers and alpinists with technical equipment since 1989, and is a supporting partner of C9G and our guided ski programs.

 

Your Mountain Guide's Transportation

TRANSPORTATION COSTS

In addition to your Ascent Package Fee, an additional fee of $150 CDN will be applied to your order. These amounts are paid in full and directly to our Guiding Staff to cover the longer transportation routes required to arrive at the Wapta Icefield. In circumstances where you are able to provide your Guide with Transportation from our hubs in either Canmore or Lake Louise, and where no other factors make prohibit this option, this fee will be waived.
 

MOUNTAIN MEAL PROGRAMS

MEAL PROGRAMS PROVIDED

Provided in the meal program is Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, as well as high-energy snacks for the duration of your trip.

Dietary restrictions can be accommodated. Please contact our Program Managers at the office for more information on Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Paleo diets or any allergy restrictions for your trip.

 

Required Equipment & Personal Items

  • Ski Boots
  • Skis/ Split Board
  • Ski Poles 
  • Skins - trimmed to specific equipment
  • Avalanche Beacon*
  • Avalanche Probe*
  • Avalanche Shovel* (Metal)
  • Ice Axe*
  • Crampons* 
  • Harness* 
  • Ski Helmet
  • Ski goggles
  • Sunglasses (We suggest Julbo Sun Glasses)
  • 50+ SPF Sunscreen
  • Lib Balm with SPF
  • Headlamp with Fresh Batteries
  • Water Bottle - 2 X Collapsable Nalgene Style Water Bottle
  • Blister Kit
  • Camera
  • Ear Plugs
  • Backpacks - Large Pack (50L-75L) Depending on Program
  • Sleeping bag (-9 minimum)

* means Cloudnine can provide it if needed.

essential clothing

  • Base Layers - Tops and Bottoms (Wool or Synthetic Only) x2
  • Mid Layers - Tops and Bottoms (200 Weight Wool or Synthetic is Ideal)  x2
  • Socks - Wool Blend is best, no cotton x2
  • Light Collared Synthetic Shirt (optional, nice for the really hot sunny days) x2
  • Softshell Jacket and Pants
  • Gore Tex Jacket and Pants
  • Sun Hat
  • Buff Style Neck Tube or Similar x2 
  • Insulated Hat
  • Gloves - Heavyweight and Lightweight Options
  • Underwear + spares
  • Down or Synthetic Insulated Jacket

 

Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance

The best method to protect your investment with us should unforeseen is to purchase a Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance Policy. We strongly recommend purchasing coverage.

Lifestyle Insurance has covered many of Cloud Nine Guests on trips all over the world, and we have first hand experience seeing these policies activated by our Guests. 

Safeguard your trip costs and investment with us. Request a Quote from Lifestyle Financial.

Is this coverage required?

  • For Canadian Residents, coverage is suggested by not required to register.
  • For Non-Canadian Citizens, coverage is suggested but not required. It is strongly suggested that your policy includes Emergency Medical Coverage, unless you carry alternative policy which will respond in the event of medical emergency.

 

WAIVER - Release of Liability & Indemnity Agreement

Prior to booking you will be required to acknowledge that you have been provided a copy of our Waiver of Liability Agreement for your review. All participants, or their legal guardians wishing to participate on any Cloud Nine Programs, must acknowledge that they have been presented this document in advance of booking, have read it in its entirety, and understand the agreement being entered into by signing. While there is no obligation to enter into this agreement with us, it is a condition of our service provision. 

   REVIEW OUR WAIVER OF LIABILITY HERE

 

Booking TErms & Conditions

Before you book your course, please review our Booking Terms & Conditions. We do not accept bookings without your voluntary acceptance of these terms. Please read carefully as these terms outline specific policies and guidance for both our staff and clients with respect to refunds, cancellations, rescheduling etc.

   REVIEW OUR BOOKING TERMS & CONDITIONS HERE

 

Book a free consultation

Book a phone call or video call with either of our Program Managers or with our Director of Operations.

This is an excellent preliminary step towards booking a trip with us. It allows us to better understand your requirements and needs for your desired objective. 

Cloud Nine Mountain Guides are Internationally IFMGA Certified
ORTOVOX - Proud Supporting Partner of the Outdoor Rock Climbing Series Courses
Cloud Nine Guides are ACMG certified