Continued from end of Wapta report...
The next day had bad weather and it was very difficult for the helicopter. It put down several times and it took many hours to make the three trips necessary to get us all into Mistaya Lodge (and the people there out). The lodge itself is super. Very comfortable, and in a stunning location at the end of a basin with peaks and glaciers on all sides. Lodge is at 6700 feet. Reading around from the south, there are:
Boomerang Glacier and Peak, Grindl Glacier and Peak, Nexus Glacier and Peak, Ophidian Glacier, Wildcat Glacier, Baker Peak, Trapper Basin and Trapper Peak, West Peyto Peak. There is then much more, but it is south-facing (Mistaya Peak, Barbette Peak).
The hut had our party of 5, owner Ron Blau, cook Hilda Reimer, guide John "Buff" Buffery, and a party of seven Germans with their own guide, Franz Füß. They were quite a bit older than us, and all in alpine touring gear.
First day we all went up the Ophidian Glacier to Nexus Summit. On descent the guide went first over a small roll and then signalled that we should come down the up track. As we reached him we saw why! He had triggered a small slab avalanche out of our sight. After a nice descent, we skied the Wildcat Glacier to its top as well for a 5000-foot day. It was amazing to watch the Germans, especially Franz (the "WiggleMeister"), in their alpine gear. Franz's turns were incredible -- wedl turns, very tight, very consistent. At the end of the day I asked him how many turns, and he said "Oh, 400 at least." This was first time to summit of Nexus this year for the guide.
Each day we headed up a different glacier and we attained a summit on each of the first five days!
Next day: West Peyto Summit (9500). Good weather. Katie's lips are badly sore now, with some sort of infection, but they are stable and healing; she is wearing a bandanna over her mouth. We then went down the Caldron Glacier until we got cliffed out. We tried a shortcut back, but it was too steep and avalanche prone, so we retraced to the col north of West Peyto. Possibly this Caldron slope had not been skied before. The view of the N Ridge of Trapper from "West Peyto Peak" was outstanding. It sure looked unclimbable with a very nasty thin cornice. Yet my Murray Toft map has a red line going from Peyto Hut right up this ridge. And my climbing guide indicates a route here too. Interesting. Joe McKay confirms this is a route, though an exposed one.
Bob found some neat fossils at West Peyto summit that might have been Burgess Shale type of pre-Cambrian stuff. Germans went up next day and gathered more.
Day three we did the Grindl Glacier, which had a nice steep run from the very top. Buff took his snowboard along. It splits in two so he can use the pieces as skis for climbing. Then the thing bolts together for the descent. Neat. We then climbed Grindl again and took a different, longer line from the summit. Some 45-degree slopes here. Later on way down all but I skied a very steep route, which the guide had not done before. At the summit we radioed the lodge to watch us come down, which they did. A great feature of this place is that the lodge has great visibility for most of the ski runs.
Next day: Boomerang Glacier and Peak in very low visibility. Some went over to explore the cave. First time up Boomerang this year.
Next day: Tilley Summit (9650'; first ascent of the year; walked top part) and then a super 1200' run down the E side towards Peyto Glacier (to about 8300'). Longest run of the trip for me. Not too steep, but snow conditions were challenging. Not crusty, but not powder either. I need to rest in these long descents, but I can manage without falling. We did a fast climb back to the col (2300' per hour in sections that Katie led!) where we found Hilda the cook; she even brought some cookies. Then a run down Icefall Couloir on the return to the hut (which we had skied on day one). We saved SaberTooth for Bob, who was taking a rest day. Rather, Buff saved it: Kurt, Katie, and I were all keen to ski it!
Day 6: Up the Nexus Glacier to a col, then up Ophidian Glacier in a whiteout to gain the top of SaberTooth. Buff broke trail here and went really fast! I could not keep up. Again, we hit 2300 feet per hour, this time for a long stretch. At the high point we had total whiteout and spent some time waiting. Radio with Ron told us that the ceiling was about 200-300 feet below us. We waited, but there was no clearing. Buff tied a length of rope to this ski pole and we started down. Sure enough, we very quickly came to some visibility. Then we headed down Saber Tooth, a very long run that was immensely satisfying. First descent of the year for that one too. Total climb for the week: 25000 feet.
Last day: Not much visibility at dawn, but it broke and the helicopter took us back without incident. I was in the last group and so got a ride all the way to Golden via a direct route over the ridges. Great. We went up to Rogers Pass that afternoon but it was raining so we abandoned our plans for a ski day there. Joan and I headed east to spend a night with the Guys in Calgary. We changed our flight to an earlier one, and so got home a day early. Rest went to Nelson to stay one night at Buff's.
Summary: Would I do Wapta again? Yes. Would I visit Mistaya again? Again, Yes.
Postscript: One one of his falls on the descent from Scott Duncan Bob left some gear behind (water bottle, etc). Peter Crisci ran into the Utahans in Lake Louise. They had come down after us and had picked up the gear from Bob's "yard sale". I look forward to the look of surprise on Bob's face when I return his stuff to him in a few weeks