Epic Trip: Traversing Canada’s Wapta Icefield

When we heard our friend Taylor Burk was hitting the Wapta Ice Traverse in Canada, we knew it was the perfect opportunity to see how the Treelines, our new glacier goggle-inspired sunnies, would perform in some really extreme conditions. The adventure turned out to be even wilder than expected. Check out Taylor’s trip notes below:

Sunski Treelines Wapta Ice Traverse by Taylor Burk

Back in October, I messaged some friends to pitch the idea of skiing the classic traverse of the Wapta Icefield the following February. It is one of the most scenic Canadian hut-to-hut winter trips, so everyone was keen to jump on board and start planning.

Wapta Ice Traverse by Taylor Burk

We started at the famous Bow Lake along the Icefields Parkway in Alberta. The full tour traverses 45km through landscapes that demand your full awareness before reaching the traditional endpoint along the trans Canada highway.

Wapta Ice Traverse by Taylor Burk

For the most part, I’m a last minute planner. Making backcountry hut reservations over 5 months in advance left me feeling more prepared than ever. However, when the time finally came to start the trip, I realized that there are limitations to preparedness, no matter how far in advance you plan something.

Avalanche on the Wapta Ice Traverse

When we checked the weather forecast days prior it was calling for subzero temperatures and white outs, and avalanche conditions were looking worrisome. We decided to move forward and proceed with caution.

Sunski Treelines Wapta Ice Traverse by Taylor Burk

Our first day saw us forcing our way through harsh wind. Skinning our way up with Bow Hut in sight a natural avalanche triggered a short distance ahead of us. Looking back, I think the avalanche may have been a sign telling us to turn around.

Sunski Treelines Wapta Ice Traverse by Taylor Burk

Near the end of our second day, conditions were getting worse and we had yet to hit the crux of the journey. At the summit of Mount Olive, in positive spirits, we collectively decided to put our egos aside and turn back towards where we had initially started in order to chase better weather and snow.

Wapta Ice Traverse by Taylor Burk

It’s these type two fun trips that make you really appreciate the times when things do go as planned. It wasn’t all bad though; we spent spent our remaining time in Yoho National Park, skiing some of the best champagne powder we experienced this season, smiles all around.

Sunski Treelines Wapta Ice Traverse by Taylor Burk

It’s better to be safe than sorry, the mountains will always be there!

Photos and story by Taylor Michael Burk