Wapta Icefield - Bow to Yoho Traverse | Mont des Poilus
My skiing buddy TJ loves turns and tours. TJ and his wife spend the majority of their winter weekends in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies or the Selkirk Mountains near Rogers Pass, British Columbia. I usually get one or two trips with TJ each winter, I am very happy I was able to join TJ for Mont des Poilus.
TJ has skied pretty much all the Wapta Icefield glaciers and summits. A few years ago TJ and party did the Classic Bow Lake to Yoho traverse of the Wapta Icefield; ever since that trip TJ has had the desired to summit Mont des Poilus. The summit of Mont des Poilus is regularly ascended in the summer months, but very infrequency in the winter. The standard East/South Glacier route is very steep near the summit, and with the southern exposure, tricky for avalanche conditions.
The winter of 2012 has been very dry with below normal snowfall and a prolonged period of little snow along the Continental Divide was blanketing the Rockies in a low avi rating. TJ suggest a modified Bow-Yoho Traverse, along with a summit attempt at Mont des Poilus; I could not resist this trip. 2 days, about 55 kilometres of skiing and one nice summit. Last minute our good buddy JW managed to not climb some bad ass waterfall ice climb and decided to get some cardio and join us.
Saturday February 11, we parked one vehicle in Yoho National Park at the Takakkaw Falls road closure and drove to the familiar Bow Lake parking lot. Us three have summited the majority of the Wapta Peaks, so a trip to Bow Hut is like walking to the local bus stop. Soon we were skinning across Bow Lake.
Quick travel to Bow Hut, less than 2 hours, next rest stop, next big up by Mt. Collie.
Quick trip towards the Mt. Gordon / Mt. Rhondda Col.
Stopped to take in the view, all the summits I could see, I have been on top of, and many with TJ and JW; love it.
From G/R Col we drop to the flats in B.C.
Bluebird conditions were variable as some cloud crept up from Yoho National Park valleys.
Our second big elevation gain to shoulder of Mt. Collie took some energy.
From the shoulder we had good snow conditions down to the Glacier des Poilus.
Quick ski to our bivy site, about 7 hours and 21 km from the truck to bivy.
To bed at sunset, up at sunrise. Whiteout conditions and about 15 cm’s of fresh.
JW broke a great trail and we were on skis nearly to the summit ridge, but the final 40 metres to the summit ridge was too hard packed for skis, so we boot packed to the ridge, then easy walk to the summit.
The summit ridge was a simple hike and soon we were on the 3161 metres summit of Mont des Poilus.
Quick summit photo, then back to the skis, an awesome 500 vertical of fresh powder made up for the lack of summit views. We spent about one hour breaking camp and eating a proper breakfast.
Quick ski down the Glacier des Poilus, then to Waterfall Valley and onto the Twin Falls headwall.
We couldn’t find an easy ski line, so we did two quick rappels of 15 metres each to Twin Falls Chalet.
Found the summer trail, but had to break trail, about 4 to 6 cm's of snow depth.
At the Little Yoho Valley trail junction, we found a very well packed skier trail, this helped a lot and our speed increased.
About 5 hours after leaving camp we arrived at Takakkaw Falls and had a good break.
Then a solid 2 hours to the truck. All in about 8 hours from camp to car, and about 32 km.
Great trip, thanks boys!