ApproachIt is 8kms from Bow Lake to Bow Hut with 1250’+/- elevation gain. Start at the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge parking lot and cross Bow Lake (make sure it is appropriately frozen-skiers have died on this lake) in a southwesterly direction to gravel flats that contour around the northern end of Crowfoot Mountain. Follow a creek bed towards Bow Falls and be on the lookout for a trail heading into the forest on your left. This avoids a steep canyon section in the drainage. Follow this trail upwards until you come to a juncture where you can descend back into the creek bed. Skin up this creek (left) as it winds its way into a canyon trough (aka snow trap). Separate well through this canyon to avoid more than one party being buried in the same avalanche. Move through at a steady pace until you come to a steep ice-water fall type section (approximately 1km). Ascend the left hand slope, possibly having to remove your skis for a short period and continue due south through the tree line towards a massive headwall (5th photo below) between Crowfoot Mountain and St. Nicholas Peak. Turn right in the cirque (ice cliff avalanche terrain) and ascend a ramp of snow back north that leads directly to the Bow Hut. Stay right to find the least strenuous and hazardous terrain.
Route DescriptionAscend another 3kms from the Bow Hut to the St. Nicholas and Mount Olive col (1900’+/- elevation gain). You ascend west from the Bow Hut bending around south as you circumvent St. Nicholas Peak on your left on wide open ice/snow fields. Most parties rope up from the Bow Hut through this section. As you approach the St. Nicholas and Mount Olive col, there is one small steep section that is normally wind blown. Once at the col, the wind normally picks up.
Turn left and skin up to a small flat area that gives a great viewpoint (photo 1 above) over the Wapta Icefield as well as makes a good place to remove your skis. Take your alpine ax and continue in boots up the south ridge of St. Nicholas. This is a double humped ridge meaning you need to traverse the first section on the right hand side to get to another col before starting your final ascent up the main ridge. This traverse can be extremely dangerous depending on the snow load. There are rock placement opportunities at the start of the traverse that would allow you to belay out the leader. Once to the col in the middle of the ridge, you are looking to ascend a snow bench on the right side of the ridge. Return the same.