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Onion, The

Summit Elevation (m): 2682
Elevation Gain (m): 710
Round Trip Time (hr): 6
Total Trip Distance (km): 16.5
Quick ‘n Easy Rating: Class 2 – You fall you sprain something. Unless you’re caught in an avalanche or fall into a crevasse. Then you could die.
Difficulty Notes:  Glacier route includes crevasse issues and steep snow slopes. Don’t minimize these risks and learn how to manage them before attempting this trip.
Technical Rating: MN6; YDS (I)
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps


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 Onion Route Map

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 some pictures 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?

Onion, The
41 photos
Morning view on our drive.
Morning view on our drive.
Mike crossing Bow Lake - looks like mid winter!
Mike crossing Bow Lake - looks like mid winter!
Mike skis towards the canyon. The Onion looms above with St. Nicholas on the left (pointed peak).
Mike skis towards the canyon. The Onion looms above with St. Nicholas on the left (pointed peak).
We had to get around the waterfall somehow!
We had to get around the waterfall somehow!
Entering the canyon. Avalanche terrain so we spaced out a bit.
Entering the canyon. Avalanche terrain so we spaced out a bit.
Exiting the canyon.
Exiting the canyon.
Time to treat the new blisters...
Time to treat the new blisters...
Good work. That should last a few hours anyway!
Good work. That should last a few hours anyway!
Mike skis towards the Vulture Ice Cap. The hut is just under the pointy peak. The Onion is on the right.
Mike skis towards the Vulture Ice Cap. The hut is just under the pointy peak. The Onion is on the right.
The ice cap is a glacier that sheds ice and snow constantly. You don't want to get too close.
The ice cap is a glacier that sheds ice and snow constantly. You don't want to get too close.
The grind up to the hut.
The grind up to the hut.
Finally the hut comes into view.
Finally the hut comes into view.
Mike approaches Bow Hut with Vulture Peak on the left above him.
Mike approaches Bow Hut with Vulture Peak on the left above him.
What a glorious day!
What a glorious day!
Tucked out of the wind by the Bow Hut.
Tucked out of the wind by the Bow Hut.
Our view from the hut is impressive.
Our view from the hut is impressive.
The kitchen / sitting area in the hut. Sleeping quarters are separate.
The kitchen / sitting area in the hut. Sleeping quarters are separate.
Skiing onto the Wapta Icefield. The Bow Hut is below us now. Crowfoot mountain in the background.
Skiing onto the Wapta Icefield. The Bow Hut is below us now. Crowfoot mountain in the background.
Skiing up the glacier under St. Nicholas.
Skiing up the glacier under St. Nicholas.
The glacier headwall is steep but it's a great ski back down!
The glacier headwall is steep but it's a great ski back down!
Looking back at Crowfoot Mountain and some other skiers on the glacier.
Looking back at Crowfoot Mountain and some other skiers on the glacier.
Mike skiing up The Onion with Olive and St. Nich behind him.
Mike skiing up The Onion with Olive and St. Nich behind him.
Nice view!
Nice view!
The Wapta peaks show themselves as we work our way up The Onion. I've been on a lot of these peaks.
The Wapta peaks show themselves as we work our way up The Onion. I've been on a lot of these peaks.
Looking east of the summit of The Onion.
Looking east of the summit of The Onion.
Mike gets ready to come over to the summit. Collie, Rhondda, Habel, Baker and Trapper peak behind him.
Mike gets ready to come over to the summit. Collie, Rhondda, Habel, Baker and Trapper peak behind him.
Mike's first Rockies summit! Not a shabby view either!
Mike's first Rockies summit! Not a shabby view either!
Ready to ski back down.
Ready to ski back down.
A group of skiers heads out across the Wapta Icefield.
A group of skiers heads out across the Wapta Icefield.
Mike is ready to tackle some steep choppy skiing.
Mike is ready to tackle some steep choppy skiing.
We head down as others head up to the hut.
We head down as others head up to the hut.
Still a glorious day. The Onion looms over us on the left (2nd peak).
Still a glorious day. The Onion looms over us on the left (2nd peak).
Mike stretches out the ol' calf muscles before continuing down the canyon.
Mike stretches out the ol' calf muscles before continuing down the canyon.
Mike is dropping into the canyon. This is the riskiest avalanche slope we had to cross - but it was solid on this day.
Mike is dropping into the canyon. This is the riskiest avalanche slope we had to cross - but it was solid on this day.
The creek is running as we ski over it.
The creek is running as we ski over it.
The last grunt of the day, Mike carries his skis up.
The last grunt of the day, Mike carries his skis up.
Relaxing in the sun before skiing out on the lake.
Relaxing in the sun before skiing out on the lake.
Some fresh mountain water.
Some fresh mountain water.
Skiing out across Bow Lake. The Onion in the background.
Skiing out across Bow Lake. The Onion in the background.

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