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The Alpine Club of Canada

THE WAPTA

Experience the most iconic hut-to-hut ski traverses in North America.

The Wapta

“The Wapta” often refers to the Wapta Icefield, a series of glaciers along the Continental Divide in the Canadian Rockies, and a beautiful and expansive mountain playground for mountaineers and skiers alike. “The Wapta” is also synonymous with the famous traverse that spans the entire icefield, done as a single or multi-day trip that benefits from a hut system that spans its length.

Summer

The Wapta becomes a gorgeous hiking route in the summer months. Glacier travel equipment and experience is still required, however a bare glacier will help with navigation. For those who love to scramble, there are boundless peaks along the icefield that rarely see visitors in the summer.

Winter

Ski mountaineering and glacier travel experience is essential to complete the Wapta in winter months, but users will be rewarded with the efficiency of ski travel, wintery summits and several satisfying descents along the way.

Route Options

There are several options on how one could traverse and explore the Wapta Icefield, but two routes remain to be the most popular for logistics and experience.

THE WAPTA TRAVERSE

Crossing frozen lakes, high passes and a vast glacial expanse, the Wapta Traverse is a journey in the truest sense of the word. This Adventure gives you the opportunity to travel hut-to-hut across the length of the Wapta and Waputik Icefields with the opportunity to climb ski mountaineering summits and cut deep powder turns along the way.

This route approximately spans across 50km with 2400m of ascent and 2700m of descent.

THE BOW-YOHO TRAVERSE

Crossing the Wapta Icefield east to west rather than north to south, the Bow-Yoho traverse is less publicized than the Wapta. This route will take you over two additional glaciers (Yoho and des Poilus) to the Wapta Icefield, making it perfect for those who have been on the Wapta already and are seeking something new. The Yoho Valley is a particular gem, hosting iconic summits such as the President, Vice President, Mt. McArthur, fairytale log cabin accommodation (the Stanley Mitchell hut) and typically more powder than the Wapta. There’s a reason Chic Scott calls a visit here the “quintessential Canadian Rockies ski experience”. 

This route approximately spans across 50km with 2100m of ascent and 2800m of descent.

ACCESS & Locations

The map below provides a general idea of route options along the Wapta and well as ACC hut locations. For a more detailed map to assist with trip planning, we suggest the Summits & Icefields Map.

The Huts

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Peyto Hut

Being the most northerly of the huts on the Wapta Icefield, the Peyto Hut is where a full traverse of the Wapta starts (or finishes). It gives access to the excellent, moderate mountaineering challenges of Peyto and Trapper Peaks, and Mts. Baker, Thompson and Rhondda, all of which are popular ascents in both summer and winter.

Bow Hut

The Bow Hut is fantastically scenic, perfectly situated and is an excellent base for exploring further onto the Wapta Icefields in winter or summer.

Balfour Hut

The Rob Ritchie Hut, also known as the Balfour Hut, is found on low, rocky hills at the toe of the Vulture Glacier, approximately 28 km northwest of the town of Lake Louise, AB. It is east of Balfour Pass and the Continental divide, just inside the Banff National Park boundary.

Scott Duncan Hut

This was the final hut to be established on the Wapta Icefield, a very nice addition to the chain of huts which now makes the Wapta Traverse one of the classiest and most comfortable ski traverses in all of North America! Balfour Hut is also a great base for a number of climbing objectives in the summer.

Louise & Richard Guy Hut

The first purpose of the Guy Hut is to facilitate safer and more comfortable crossings of the Bow-Yoho Traverse in winter. A second purpose will be a base for skiing in the local area as it opens up terrain in the southwest Wapta to day trips. Yoho Peak, Mont des Poilus and Mt. Collie will all be more easily accessed, and the adventurous skier will find powder runs on other local slopes.

Stanley Mitchell Hut

The Stanley Mitchell Hut is a historic log cabin situated in outstanding backcountry skiing and hiking terrain in Yoho National Park, BC.

Bookings

To secure accommodations at the huts, it is necessary to make a reservation that spans multiple huts and days. Please note that members of the ACC (Alpine Club of Canada) are eligible to book up to 180 days in advance, while non-members can make reservations up to 90 days prior (12am MT) to their desired dates. Online booking is available for your convenience.

Summer

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Winter

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  • Our online booking system allows members to book 180 days in advance. If you are booking more than 1 night, you may call our reservations team to extend your reservation up to a total of 5 additional nights. 
  • Wapta Traverse Booking Example: If you are booking Peyto Hut for April 1, the online booking window will open 180 days prior to the start date. You may book the Peyto Hut online for April 1 and then call our reservations team to extend your booking up to 5 nights. (April 2 – Bow Hut, April 3 – Balfour Hut, April 4 – Scott Duncan Hut). Please confirm availability before calling to complete your booking.  
  • Bookings open at 12AM Mountain Time. 
  • You can find our cancellation policy and insurance here. 

For any questions or concerns please email info@alpineclubofcanada.ca or call 403-678-3200 ext. 0.