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Waputik Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 2736
Trip Date: May 23 2015
Elevation Gain (m): 1200
Round Trip Time (hr): 9
Total Trip Distance (km): 18
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: No technical difficulties. The crux is the approach up Bath Creek which is overgrown and bushy in spots.
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (Hiking)
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On Saturday, May 23 2015 Raf and I decided we were in the mood for an easy scramble. We settled on Waputik Peak on the border of Banff and Yoho National Parks after Raf assured me that the slopes looked dry already a week ago. Named by George M. Dawson in 1884, Wapiti is the Stoney Indian word for white goat. I couldn’t believe there was that little snow already near the divide – but he was right. After doing many overnight ski trips and big snow ascents in the past month, it felt wonderful to lift a light day pack! The route up Waputik Peak is quite straight forward. Follow an old trail up Bath Creek (it was already overgrown in 2002) until the slopes get easier and open up on climber’s right and follow them to the summit. Sounds pretty easy anyway…

Waputik Peak Route Map

Accessing Bath Creek proved to be an exercise in creativity. We knew that Fab and Josee had parked about 1km past the Bath Creek bridge so we decided to check that access out. There’s a picnic area just before the “Welcome to BC” sign on the highway and we parked there and walked around to see if there were any signs forbidding us access. No signs – but no easy access either! The fence that runs along hwy 1 is doing a good job keeping folks out – probably a better job keeping us out than wildlife off the highway. 🙁 I have no idea why there’s no gates to allow hikers access to areas that aren’t closed, but in any case there were no signs (and no closures on the Banff web site) indicating we couldn’t access this area so we decided to go for it. We had to get creative to avoid the train tracks but eventually we found ourselves alongside Bath Creek on an old overgrown trail. UPDATE: I was informed me via email that there is still access to the old Bath Creek trailhead. Apparently if you “look for where the creek passes under the highway” there is a gate. I think this is the only place we didn’t check!

Before I go into details of our trek up Bath Creek, a quick note about the name of the creek. Apparently in 1881 Major A. B. Rogers, the chief surveyor for CP Rail took a spill off his horse while crossing the swift water – thereafter the name Bath Creek was deemed appropriate. I think we underestimated the creek approach. Looking at the summit register, there’s very few ascents of this peak and with the current access difficulties I’m sure there’s even less folks wandering up Bath Creek than before the fences and access restrictions came into play. The trail was distinct in places, but the theme was light bushwhacking, getting lost a few times, ascending and descending to get around washouts and some nice travel where the river allowed us to walk on gravel flats. The travel was never brutal, but it was much bushier than Inglismaldie in case you thought that approach was tough. Running across some old cabins on the trail was kind of cool. I find it hard to believe, but apparently these cabins weren’t known to Banff archeologists before 2011. They were probably used by CP Rail workers in the area in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s.

I knew the Bath Valley was a hot spot for bears, especially with very few humans bothering with it and sure enough, we spotted some large and very fresh tracks along the creek. Good thing I left my bear spray at home… 😉 Eventually the lower ascent slopes came into view. We stayed climber’s right of the small creek that joins up with Bath Creek and followed it up through thick bush until more open slopes appeared high above us. The sun was incredibly hot by the time we started up steep rubble, inching to climber’s left where the slope wasn’t blocked by cliff bands.

There was very little snow to assist us as we ascended. We weren’t impressed with the 4 or 5 wood ticks that were crawling on us after a quick water break – I hate those critters! I even spotted the rear end of a goat (the namesake of the peak) but we had no other close encounters with any hoofed or clawed animals on this particular day.

We made good use of some snow patches, which were going isothermal quickly. Soon enough the views across the Bath Glacier and down the highway 1 corridor started opening up. The giant Lake Louise peaks also became more and more impressive as we slogged up easy summit slopes to the highest point. It was t-shirt weather on the summit – no wind and VERY warm. A raven joined us as we admired the unique views of familiar peaks in all directions.

 
Finally at the south ridge with the summit rising at left and a false summit at right. Note Raf at the col here – looking pretty small in the terrain.
Views north to Daly (L), Balfour, Hector Lake, Hector, Cyclone, Pipestone (R).
Summit views north (L), east and south (R) include, Balfour (L), Hector Lake, Mount Hector, Merlin Ridge, Richardson, Redoubt, Temple, Niblock, Victoria, Pope’s, Bosworth Cathedral and Mount Stephen (R).
Descending the summit with stunning views across to the rock wall between Mount Bosworth (L) and Mount Daly (R). Mount Temple, Narao, Divide Peak and Cathedral Mountain at left.

After signing the register and having a bite to eat, we reluctantly headed back down. The weather was so beautiful and the views so excellent that we were tempted to linger but the day was later than we expected and neither of us was particularly psyched about the thrash back down the raging Bath Creek. The descent to the creek went quickly – in part thanks to the snow patches we used – and soon we were thrashing our way back out under a scorching sun. It felt like midsummer, not the end of May! We even dunked our heads into the creek a few times to cool off. I think it might be a brutal year for fires if we don’t get some moisture and cooler temperatures soon. Finally we came back to the highway and our parking spot. The sun was still baking hot at 18:00.

I can say to some degree of honesty that Waputik Peak is a worthwhile scramble. It’s not easy to access and rarely ascended compared to other peaks in the area. The Bath Creek drainage is wild and beautiful and the views from the summit are unique and far reaching. Fall might be a good time to do this peak as the bush would be slightly easier to navigate and the creek wouldn’t be so fast and high. Good luck figuring out how to access it through all the barriers along hwy 1 though.

Waputik Peak
70 photos
Raf walks along the railway track towards Bath Creek.
Raf walks along the railway track towards Bath Creek.
Raf walks along the railway track towards Bath Creek.
Raf walks along the railway track towards Bath Creek.
This used to be part of the trail but is now a tributary of the main Bath Creek - looking back where we came from
This used to be part of the trail but is now a tributary of the main Bath Creek - looking back where we came from
This used to be part of the trail but is now a tributary of the main Bath Creek - looking back where we came from
This used to be part of the trail but is now a tributary of the main Bath Creek - looking back where we came from
A cross country ski sign shows up in the bush! :) I'm pretty confident that this sign is long past the maintaining of any trails in this area
A cross country ski sign shows up in the bush! 🙂 I'm pretty confident that this sign is long past the maintaining of any trails in this area
It was nice when we could walk along the raging creek. This wasn't the norm.
It was nice when we could walk along the raging creek. This wasn't the norm.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
The old cabins along Bath Creek.
Even an old bed frame was visible in one of the cabins.
Even an old bed frame was visible in one of the cabins.
Hiking up Bath Creek.
Hiking up Bath Creek.
Based on the distance between the main footpad and the toe pads, I think this is a large black bear track.
Based on the distance between the main footpad and the toe pads, I think this is a large black bear track.
Hiking up Bath Creek.
Hiking up Bath Creek.
Finally our ascent slope shows up - still over 1km distant. We will ascend this side of the ridge, then cross over the ridge and continue in a rising left traverse to the summit.
Finally our ascent slope shows up - still over 1km distant. We will ascend this side of the ridge, then cross over the ridge and continue in a rising left traverse to the summit.
Crossing the ridge with Bath Creek far below already. It's HOT already too!
Crossing the ridge with Bath Creek far below already. It's HOT already too!
Grinding our way up scree slopes.
Grinding our way up scree slopes.
Grinding our way up scree slopes.
Grinding our way up scree slopes.
Loose, rubbly terrain - it felt good to be scrambling again!
Loose, rubbly terrain - it felt good to be scrambling again!
Raf comes up with Bosworth in the background.
Raf comes up with Bosworth in the background.
Raf comes up with Bosworth in the background.
Raf comes up with Bosworth in the background.
I was very surprised to see flowers in the alpine already!
I was very surprised to see flowers in the alpine already!
Taking photos of flowers.
Taking photos of flowers.
Hiking up the south ridge.
Hiking up the south ridge.
Scree slopes to the summit.
Scree slopes to the summit.
Looking up to the summit (L) from the col. South summit at right.
Looking up to the summit (L) from the col. South summit at right.
Raf hikes the south summit ridge of Waputik Peak.
Raf hikes the south summit ridge of Waputik Peak.
Raf hikes up to the summit.
Raf hikes up to the summit.
Views from Pulpit (L) to Hector to Temple and Cathedral (R).
Views from Pulpit (L) to Hector to Temple and Cathedral (R).
Raf comes up to the summit. From L to R Daly, Hector Lake, Hector, Skoki and Lake Louise peaks.
Raf comes up to the summit. From L to R Daly, Hector Lake, Hector, Skoki and Lake Louise peaks.
Raf comes up to the summit. From L to R Daly, Hector Lake, Hector (R).
Raf comes up to the summit. From L to R Daly, Hector Lake, Hector (R).
The tallest mountain on the Wapta Icefield - Mount Balfour.
The tallest mountain on the Wapta Icefield - Mount Balfour.
Looking across Hector Lake at Bow, Dolomite, Watermelon, Noseeum.
Looking across Hector Lake at Bow, Dolomite, Watermelon, Noseeum.
Looking across Hector Lake at Bow, Dolomite, Watermelon, Noseeum.
Looking across Hector Lake at Bow, Dolomite, Watermelon, Noseeum.
Watermelon Peak and OXO (Puzzle) Peak.
Watermelon Peak and OXO (Puzzle) Peak.
My last Kane scramble and another favorite - Carnarvon.
My last Kane scramble and another favorite - Carnarvon.
Yet another favorite in the area (I love Yoho...) - Cathedral Mountain.
Yet another favorite in the area (I love Yoho...) - Cathedral Mountain.
Mount Stephen.
Mount Stephen.
The Goodsirs.
The Goodsirs.
Looking over the Niblock Glacier at Pope's Peak, Victoria, Hungabee and Lefroy.
Looking over the Niblock Glacier at Pope's Peak, Victoria, Hungabee and Lefroy.
Mount Temple.
Mount Temple.
Mount Temple.
Mount Temple.
Armor Peak and Protection Mountain with Pulsatilla rising beyond. Temple at right.
Armor Peak and Protection Mountain with Pulsatilla rising beyond. Temple at right.
Mount Douglas and St. Bride.
Mount Douglas and St. Bride.
Pilot Mountain with Brett to the right.
Pilot Mountain with Brett to the right.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Summit Register.
Celebration drink at the summit!
Celebration drink at the summit!
Bow Peak over Hector Lake with Cirque, Dolomite, Watermelon and Puzzle beyond.
Bow Peak over Hector Lake with Cirque, Dolomite, Watermelon and Puzzle beyond.
Hector Lake is melting quickly.
Hector Lake is melting quickly.
Incredible pano over Mount Bosworth.
Incredible pano over Mount Bosworth.
Apparently Mount Owen is worth a look - I'll have to check it out soon.
Apparently Mount Owen is worth a look - I'll have to check it out soon.
Leaving the summit.
Leaving the summit.
Descending back to Bath Creek.
Descending back to Bath Creek.
Descending back to Bath Creek.
Descending back to Bath Creek.
Descending back to Bath Creek.
Descending back to Bath Creek.
Descending back to Bath Creek.
Descending back to Bath Creek.
This is the stream that joins Bath Creek - stay climber's right of this stream when you encounter it and start ascending from along it.
This is the stream that joins Bath Creek - stay climber's right of this stream when you encounter it and start ascending from along it.
Exiting Bath Creek.
Exiting Bath Creek.
A gorgeous place to be hiking.
A gorgeous place to be hiking.
Exiting Bath Creek.
Exiting Bath Creek.
Super clear water from a hillside spring - tasted wonderful too.
Super clear water from a hillside spring - tasted wonderful too.
Exiting Bath Creek.
Exiting Bath Creek.
Tiny beauties.
Tiny beauties.
Lots of detritus left over from the "good ol'" mining / exploration days in the area.
Lots of detritus left over from the "good ol'" mining / exploration days in the area.
Lots of detritus left over from the "good ol'" mining / exploration days in the area.
Lots of detritus left over from the "good ol'" mining / exploration days in the area.
Old camp gear.
Old camp gear.
Old camp gear.
Old camp gear.

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