On Good Friday, April 22, 2011 I took my brother in law, Mike up his very first Rockies peak. He chose to attempt his first peak on alpine touring gear, which I thought was very admirable considering you can't really find a more physically challenging way to climb a mountain than with huge skis and boots attached to your feet! :-)
The route for this diminutive summit is obvious. We worked our way slowly to the Bow Hut. From there we followed tracks heading up the headwall and towards Rhondda. When it made sense, we veered climber's right and skied almost right to the summit of The Onion. The wind was very chilly for late April and the amount of snow made it seem like January or February up there. I've been on the Wapta many times and this was the most snow I've ever seen and pretty much the coldest (except for Gordon - THAT was chilly!).
Mike was blown away by the great views - that's why I love taking newbs to the mountains, they get such a huge kick out of the scenery, it reminds me how much I love it too.
After snapping pics we skied back down to the parking lot on amazingly solid snow, it only warmed up to about 3 degrees in the parking lot. I wonder if summer will ever come this year?!
Mike skis towards the canyon across Bow Lake, The Onion is the bump above him to the right, St. Nicholas Peak the pointy one on the left.
Mike makes repairs to his feet just above the canyon.
Mike pauses to slow down his heart rate and catch his breath as we work our way up to the hut. The Wapta Icefield is to Mike's left.
Mike works his way up the Bow Hut. Vulture Peak and the Vulture Glacier rise up behind him.
A beautiful day! Not quite as warm as it looks on this picture, but is was still a very nice, clear day.
Mike follows the track up the headwall, onto the Wapta Icefield.
Looking back over the Bow Hut (out of sight now) and some xcountry skiers on the glacier. Normally it's not suggested to ski where they are, as there are some pretty big holes (crevasses) there. With the current snow pack they were OK but they did head skier's right from this spot. Crowfoot Mountain is in the background - that's another awesome ski run! (Click to view full size)
Mike works his way up to The Onion's lower slope with a very impressive St. Nicholas Peak and Mount Olive looming behind him.
A panorama of the Wapta Icefields from the lower slope of The Onion. On the left is Mount Olive, St. Nicholas and Mount Gordon, while on the right is Collie, Rhondda, Habel, Baker and Trapper. (Click for full size)
Mount Olive, St. Nicholas and Gordon.
Mike and Vern on the summit of The Onion.
Mike stretches out his hamstrings on the way down.
Mike drops into the Canyon. This slope is probably the worst one for avalanches on the approach or deproach from the Bow Hut. This day it was still frozen solid at 3pm which made skiing a bit crappy but it was safe to cross at least. In the center background is Mount Jimmy Simpson.
Skiing out of the canyon - still a gorgeous day! I can't believe it's the end of April with all this snow and ice this far down the canyon though.
Enjoying a break in the warm sunshine before slogging it back across the lake. The lake was still frozen solid and covered with snow on the way out.