April 8, 2012
Wapta Icefield, BC
This was the primary objective in the Easter long weekend of 2012. I’d never been to the Wapta before and I was keen to give it a visit. We picked a day with gorgeous weather and good stability (moderate/low/low) and it was the time to push things a bit harder. Andrew Nugara’s Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies‘ suggesting time is too pessimistic. Considering my mom’s age and the fact I bagged both Mt. Gordon and St. Nicolas Peak, we still finishied in less than 12 hours. If I were going solo I could probably be back in 10 hours. Speaking my first objective, Mt. Gordon is the second highest on the entire Wapta Icefield but is one of the easiest as it’s a mere plod.
The temperature dropped to -21 degrees at the parking lot in the morning and that was even colder than the previous day. It was even harder to get everything started. However, the weather was way much better than the previous day. We had fresh memories of the approach from our Crowfoot Mountain’s ascent. The difference was that we’d go straight into the alpine bowl after exiting the second canyon terrain trap. Towards the end of the alpine bowl we made a right turn and the sun started to show up at this stage! According to Vern Dewit’s trip report, Bow Hut is an energy sucker… So, we didn’t venture into the Hut, instead we continued straight towards the Wapta Icefield.
The ascent was very straightforward, but yet very foreshortened. It took us forever to get up the big hill behind Bow Hut. We slowly worked our way up the glacier below the north face of St. Nicolas Peak, during which we met a group of skiers coming down. Gordon looked to be very close but actually far away. It has 3203 m elevation and St. Nicolas Peak only has elevation of 2970 m. You gonna be higher than all the Wapta mountains except for Balfour (which you won’t see until you’re on the top) when you reach the summit, so don’t be fooled by the foreshortened view. One thing about the Icefield peaks is, they all look much closer than the really are. I like to trust the map rather than my eyes.
Too bad mom was exhausted after topping out on Wapta Icefield. I slowed down the pace significantly but she still couldn’t catch up. I also saw some clouds starting to form so I needed to be quick. The decision was made that mom would wait for me on the icefield and I’d go tag the summit Mt. Gordon by myself. There was a good set of tracks branching towards the direction I wanted so it was quite easy actually.The summit offers the best view that I’ve ever seen in the Rockies. The wintery condition makes the scenery even better. Take a look at my photos and you gonna have an idea. Bring a map and try to identify as many peaks as you can! I didn’t stay too long on the summit because I was also planing to do St. Nicolas Peak the same day.
Descending this peak was much faster. It would be much much faster if I was on skis though. Anyway, I soon re-joined mom and we regrouped together towards my second objective, St. Nicolas Peak.