The Wapta Icefield


 


[Mount Balfour is the highest peak on the Wapta Icefield at 10,735 feet tall.]

There are few fonder memories I have than the many that involve the Wapta Icefield. This amazing area of snow, ice, rock and water is the epitome of Rockies adventure IMHO. It has a bit of everything. From easy ski ascents off the glacier, such as Little Crowfoot or Bow Peak, to huge days with technical terrain such as Mount Balfour and Mount Ayesha, there is something for alpinists of every persuasion to enjoy here. I clearly remember my first foray onto the icefield with Dave Stephens, Jason Wilcox and Blair Piggot on a bitterly cold ski ascent of Mount Gordon in January, 2006.


I was so excited and nervous to be finally roping up on a glacier! I was intimidated by the knowledge of Dave and Blair as we prepared our gear at the bitterly cold Bow Lake parking lot. I remember how anxious I was when we left room between skiers ascending the narrow and hazarous Bow Canyon on approach to the Bow Hut. When we finally set skis on the glacier it was almost disappointing how technically easy it was! Of course, I was sick as a dog that day and almost didn't make it, but that had nothing to do with the mountain. On hindsight Gordon is one of the easiest ascents on the Wapta - it's one of the few that is all uphill on approach and downhill on exit. What luxury.


Since that humble beginning I spent the next decade or so bagging as many of the so-called "Wapta Peaks" as I possibly could. It's hard to get a definitive list of all the Wapta peaks, but suffice it to say that I'm getting fairly close to having stood on every single one of them. There are currently four glaciers considered as being on the Wapta, including Peyto, Bow, Yoho and the Vulture Glacier. The Crowfoot Glacier used to be part of the group too, but has receded too far to join with the main ice sheet. Some folks use the Waputik Range as their reference for Wapta peaks, but this doesn't make a ton of sense to me since many of these peaks are nowhere near snow and ice (i.e. Trolltinder, Aries, Ogden, Field etc.). I won't bother giving a definitive list other than whatever I've already climbed. Put it this way - in my mind I have very few peaks left before I'll consider my Watpa peakbagging odyssy to be over.
 
Titlesort descending Date Summit (ft) Summit (m) Distance (km) Gain (m)
Ayesha Peak 05.08.2014 10,056 3,065 35.0 1,600
Baker, Mount 04.20.2012 10,407 3,172 25.0 1,520
Balfour, Mount 02.20.2010 10,735 3,272 10.0 1,300
Collie, Mount 04.29.2014 10,224 3,116 33.0 1,900
Crowfoot Mountain 03.27.2011 10,007 3,050 20.0 1,250
Crowfoot, Little 02.17.2012 9,186 2,800 16.0 900
Daly, Mount 09.25.2009 10,342 3,152 35.0 1,700
Des Poilus, Mount 08.14.2011 10,371 3,161 33.0
Gordon, Mount 12.21.2012 10,510 3,203 28.0 1,400
Habel, Mount (North Rhondda) 03.24.2012 10,083 3,073 27.0 1,151
Isolated Peak 07.04.2005 9,334 2,845 14.0 1,344
Jimmy Simpson, Mount 10.16.2010 9,730 2,966 15.0 1,000
Kiwetinok Peak 08.12.2006 9,521 2,902 15.0 1,500
Lilliput Mountain - Hector Lake Wapta Exit 02.21.2010 9,541 2,908
McArthur, Mount 08.12.2006 9,892 3,015 15.0 1,500
Mistaya Mountain 09.17.2008 10,154 3,095 25.0 1,800
Niles, Mount 09.26.2009 9,750 2,972 23.0 1,350
Olive, Mount 02.11.2006 10,270 3,130 30.0 1,200
Onion, The 04.22.2011 8,799 2,682 16.5 710
Patterson, Mount 02.11.2012 10,489 3,197 15.0 1,400
Peyto Peak 02.22.2015 9,745 2,970 23.0 1,200
Pollinger, Mount 08.12.2006 9,239 2,816 15.0 1,500
Portal Peak 08.01.2014 9,550 2,911 19.0 1,200
Rhondda, Mount 04.28.2007 9,892 3,015 24.0 1,100
St. Nicholas Peak 02.11.2006 9,745 2,970 30.0
Thompson, Mount 03.12.2009 10,119 3,084 26.0 1,200
Tilly Peak (aka Barrel or South Trapper) 04.21.2012 9,596 2,925
Trapper Peak 05.11.2014 9,791 2,984 25.0 1,780
Vulture Peak 02.19.2010 9,701 2,957 25.0 1,350
Whaleback Mountain 09.05.2002 8,619 2,627 25.0 1,400
Yoho Peak 08.13.2011 9,056 2,760 30.0