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Speed Record on Wapta Traverse

The Wapta Traverse is the only hut-to-hut multi-day ski traverse in North America. 

The trip has easy access, multiple ski-mountaineering objectives, big glaciers, excellent snow, lots of potential for turns and four huts. The 45-kilometre route moves back and forth across the Continental Divide between Banff and Yoho national parks.

The Wapta is a 600-square-kilometre area made up of two icefields: the Wapta and the Waputik.

The standard traverse starts with a climb from the Icefields Parkway to the Peyto Hut. The ascent is gradual, about 600 metres over 10 kilometres.

Next, skiing south to Bow Hut, is the easiest, highlighted by an excellent run down to the hut.

The route-finding on the way to the Balfour Hut is more complex, with a must-make col on the south side of Mount Saint Nicholas and crevasses to avoid on the Vulture Glacier.

Next is even more difficult, the crux being the climb from Balfour Hut to the High Col.

The last push is from the Scott Duncan Hut to the Trans-Canada Highway and is almost all downhill.

In 2012, Melanie Bernier and Ian Gale, made a traverse and bagged the record at a time of seven hours and 35 minuntes. They skied 43 km with 2,200 m of gain.

On May 11th, Peter Knight and Travis Brown took an hour off the record and made the traverse in six hours and 34 minutes. They had great skiing conditions and perfect weather. Brown wrote on his blog, “Overall it was a great day, and snow conditions were almost perfect. As always though, when you finish something big, you always see room for improvement. With the right group and more skintracks in I think it could go in under six hours.”

For more details, visit Brown’s blog here.

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