Rob Ritchie (Balfour) Hut

Middle of the Wapta

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.

This is the half-way mark for the Wapta Traverse and is usually used in conjunction with the other huts in this chain while attempting this classic cross-glacier ski trip. Usual approach is from Bow Hut through the Olive/St. Nicholas Col then down the gentle and pleasant Vulture Glacier to Balfour Pass, where the hut sits on a section of moraine beneath the impressive bulk of Mt. Balfour.

Though most people will spend one night at the R.J. Ritchie (Balfour) Hut before continuing on to Scott Duncan, there is potential for good skiing here, especially on the Diableret Glacier which sits northwest of Mt. Balfour and makes for a fantastic run on a clear day! There is also an optional route to the summit of Mt. Gordon from this hut, which would be an excellent loop trip if combined with the normal route back towards Bow Hut. Use your imagination and some neat trip ideas will present themselves!

At A Glance

General: Wapta Ice Fields
Map and Grid Reference: 82N/9 Hector Lake , Grid Reference 375157
Hut Elevation: 2,470 metres (8,100 feet)
GPS: NAD83 11U 5 377 54 57 157 65
Lat / Long: 51°35’ 30” / 116°27’ 18”
Open: Open all year
Rates: $30 members, $40 others

Quick Description: From the north via either the Peyto or Bow Huts, or from the south via the Scott Duncan Hut..
Elevation Gain to Hut: 
Approach Time: 2-3 hours from Bow Hut. 6-8+ hours via Bow Lake.
Approach Description: (see below)
How To Book Check Availability

Other Huts in the Area

The Wapta Icefield is home to four ACC huts. See Whyte (Peyto), Bow and Scott Duncan huts.

Hut Bookings Summer 2020

Note that all ACC hut bookings for summer 2020 will be processed under a temporary system due to COVID-19.
Please see our Booking Huts page  for our temporary policies and rates for summer 2020.
Please do not call our office to make hut bookings at this time.

Hut Bookings

  • Reservations arerequired at all ACC huts.
  • ACC membership is not required to book huts. ACC members can book 12 months in advance. Non-members can book 30 days in advance
  • Call 403-678-3200 ext 0 to make a booking. We are open 8:30 am to 8:30 pm daily.
  • Please read our cancellation policies and consider cancellation and/or appropriate emergency medical insurance for your trip (link below).


Per Night Adult Member $30
Per Night Adult Non-Member $40
Per Night Child Member $15
Per Night Child Non-Member $20

About rates


18 (summer) 16 (Winter)
Mattress pads provided, bring your own sleeping bag
Propane stovetops (propane supplied)
Propane lighting – propane is supplied
Snow melt

Recreational Opportunities

  • Scrambling
  • Mountaineering
  • Ski Touring
  • Ski Mountaineering


Both the south and the north approach routes travel over the same terrain in the winter and the summer.

Approach from the North

The approach from the North is the most popular access route to the hut in both winter and summer. Under good conditions Balfour can be reached easily in a day from either the Bow Hut or from the Peyto Hut further north. In the summer, six to eight hours are required for the whole trip from the Peyto Hut and about three to five if you are starting from the Bow Hut. In the winter, five to six hours traveling from the Peyto Hut should be sufficient in good conditions.

Approach from the South

The Scott Duncan Hut is located some 10 km south of the Balfour Hut. It is less common to access Balfour from the south, but the trip can be done in either direction. This section of the Wapta/Waputik is one of the most demanding from both a terrain and navigation standpoint. It is recommended that this trip (or the reverse trip) only be undertaken in favorable conditions with stable snow and good visibility. This route can be traveled in five to six hours in the winter, but expect it to take a few hours longer in the summer

References and Links

The Hut Experience

Staying in a backcountry hut is a shared, rustic experience. Sleeping, kitchen and living areas are communal, and foam mattresses, cooking and eating utensils are provided. Guests are expected to bring their own sleeping bags, food and personal items.

All of our huts are user-maintained, meaning that the custodial work of keeping the hut clean, chopping firewood and shovelling snow is done by the guests. The ACC provides major service and renovations to all of our huts each year to ensure they are in good repair.

Balfour Hut Wapta Traverse Video