We were on the Wapta traverse from Mar 13-19 and have a couple of observations to offer to the MCR readers.
Balfour Peak Icefall:
On Mar 18th we witnessed another party using the upper bench on the Balfour hicol route & they ended up being very close to an icefall event around 9:00 AM. The day started clear with very little wind, and there were already two fresh icefall slides on the East face. While we watched the party approach the upper bench, we noticed another icefall triggering a slab avalanche and the powder component was very close to the folks from what we could see. We had a brief exchange with them around 9:30 as we approached the hicol route via the lower bench. They had elected to head to other areas and were retreating from that route. We continued along the lower bench, finding a route well away from the run out potential of any further icefall, and were also happy to find a nice, solid bridge over the big crevasse under the main icefall. No more activity was noted by the time we exited the area at 11:00 AM, and by then a cooling breeze was keeping temperatures at bay. The observed icefall had pulled out a slab avalanche with a fracture of up to 1 meter deep in spots, and had run a fair ways across the flat ground, no doubt due to the ice component. Photo credit: Calen Sacevich.
Peyto Hut Approach:
Travel was fast on well packed snow and the lake was frozen. We did encounter open water in the narrows above the lake, but was able to rock hop & keep relatively dry. The glacier snowpack from the toe to the hut slopes was quite thin; we found depths on average 120-150cm, with many spots only holding 70cm of facetted snow. Even with good light, we elected to stay roped up until off the glacier below the hut.
All huts were in good condition. Some folks have decided that nocturnal peeing around Peyto hut was an 'anything goes' routine, with several pee statues scattered around. This always makes finding clean (not yellow!) snow a bit of a challenge. Possibly the same crew also left a stack of cigarette butts & some left over supper in the snow beside the main door. I only bring this up as I am sure those of you who read these reports are pretty good at upholding hut etiquette, but it is always a good reminder to gently persuade others who like to stray as to how we want to keep our homes in the mountain.
The outhouse at Scott Duncan is still a drafty adventure, with squeals of delight as toilet paper wafts past your wide eyes once offered to the barrel Gods. As charming as this is, nothing has changed since I discovered the outhouse on it's side one dark evening 3 years ago. The ACC managed to upright the structure, but just like an often moved mobile home, one now has a much better view of the surrounding mountains through all the cracks. Here's hoping that after all the excitement of building the new hut, possibly we will see some much needed repairs on our cherished biffy. Anyways, an adventure awaits for all those who venture there, as well as those who elect to 'hold it' until down at the trail head.
Dave Healey, ACMG Ski Guide
Will Woods, ACMG Hiking Guide & ACC Camp Manager
ACC Wapta Traverse