I did a unique route on Wapta since I had transport. I was dropped off at the Whiskey Jack- Yoho Pass trailhead. I hiked in to Yoho Pass, then proceeded onto the Burgess Highline trail, ascended Wapta and at the end of the day came out at Emerald Lake. It makes for a slightly longer day than a return to Whiskey Jack.
Drive 12.6kms down Yoho Valley Road to the Whiskey Jack Hostel
, less than a kilometer before the road ends. There is trail head parking either at the hostel or further down at the end of the road. Hike up to Yoho Lake (campground location as well) via the Yoho Pass trail. About 10 minutes west of the lake you will come to a trail intersection. Head left on the Burgess Highline trail.
Route DescriptionThis is a 4100'+/- ascent day.
I took the first rock water course (drainage) on the left after the very steep cliffs that guarded the left side of the trail gave way (beware of rock fall in this area). This topped out at some more steep cliffs. If you wait farther on the Burgess Highline Trail to ascend, you can avoid this area, but I rather enjoyed it. I then traversed south to some very interesting washed out rock cliffs (read smooth and worn rock texture). Up to now all you are seeing is the western false summit of Wapta Mountain. Ascend the dark rock bands towards the center while slowly traversing right. You have another pale rock band to ascend and then you are actually into the bowl. This rock band can be challenging. It offers at least two locations to break through. I ascended an icy waterfall gap (photo) to the right, but descended a broken gap that was dryer to the left.
Once you move up into a bowl you will be able to clearly see the eastern true summit block. Its western headwall appears impenetrable. I ascended scree to gain the right hand ridge that runs out to that false summit to the right. Then I traversed below the southern face to reasonable climbing on the summit block at its southeast corner. As I made this traverse, small scree would slide down south shoots for an extreme vertical drop, making quite the dust clouds (photo). By reasonable on the southeast corner, I mean, less dangerous than other opportunities. This final climb is loose, steep and exposed terrain. Some belay stations do exist if you prefer to take a rope, which is never a bad idea on a difficult scramble.
The views are spectacular from the summit including The President, V. Pres. and the Emerald Glacier (photo),
Mount Daly (photo), Mount Stephen, Mount Carnarvon,
and Mount Burgess
. Wapta is a centrally located mountain in Yoho National Park.
On descent, I made a beeline straight down to the Burgess Highline trail. This involved some experienced down climbing and route finding through those water worn sections, but was a pleasant challenge. Once back on the trail, I returned to the Yoho Pass trail and descended west onto the Emerald Lake Loop. Take a left to get to the lodge and parking area. Enjoy the waterfalls, on descent of the Yoho Pass trail, that drain the Emerald Glacier thus forming Emerald Lake.
Definitely wear a helmet on this one. Some would be more comfortable taking a rope. Read other reports of this scramble via your browser search. I thought it was just moderately difficult. An alpine ax would be handy most any month on Wapta. Prepare for ice if you had any cold weather before your ascent. Bear spray, map and compass. There is usually good drainage on this route if you want to treat water instead of pack it.