Welcome!

Hi everyone. Welcome to our Yoho Traverse trip! 

Please read the following information carefully. It should answer most of the questions you may have. There is a gear list at the end. If you have any questions the best way to get hold of me is by email.

If you get nothing else from this information package, please do the following:

  • Click on this link to fill out the Guest Information Form – do it right now and I won’t have to hassle you about it again!
  • Read and understand the guide waiver carefully ahead of time. You don’t need to sign the waiver now, you will do that once you arrive for the trip.
  • Have a look at the gear list at the end of this info package and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list.
  • Let me know if you need me to provide any equipment for you.

Important dates and times – all times are Mountain Time

April 6, 7.30 am – We meet at the Lake Louise Alpine Centre (hostel) to have a look through your gear and sign the waivers. Directions are here. We should try to be heading out of town by about 8.30. We will be on the trail by mid-morning for the half day ski to Bow Hut.

April 7 – From Bow Hut we travel across the Wapta Icefield to the Guy Hut.

April 8 - This day takes us over the Des Poilus Glacier to Isolated Col and a descent to the Stanley Mitchell Hut. A lower elevation option is via the Whaleback, in case weather or conditions are not optimum.

April 9 - On our final day we take the Iceline trail to Yoho Pass and then Emerald Lake. A lower elevation option goes down the Little Yoho Valley past Takkakaw Falls to Highway 1.

Trip Information

The Bow-Yoho Traverse travels across various icefields, glaciers and cols to link Bow Lake with Emerald Lake. Each day involves 300-700 m elevation gains and 6-15 km horizontal travel. There are two major descents on the trip: Isolated Col to Stanley Mitchell and Iceline trail to Emerald Lake. The huts are comfortable but basic. They have all the cooking equipment that will be required and mattresses but we need to bring our own food and sleeping bags. All the huts have some form of heating.

Delays

Although very unusual on this trip, there is always the chance that conditions will force us to spend an extra day out. We should be prepared for this - I will bring a bit of extra food.

Logistics

We will need to do a car shuttle and we can organize this by email a few days before the trip starts.

There is a gear list at the end of this information package that you need to bring. I supply the group gear for glacier travel (ropes) and food. We will share cooking and cleaning duties. 

Safety

Safety is our number one priority, from the time we start to the moment we all head our separate ways at the end of the trip. There are a variety of ways you can help me make this a safe trip:

  • Listen to the guides’ instructions and if you are uncertain of what is expected of you please ask!
  • Take an avalanche course with me! Click here.
  • Take the online avalanche course at the Avalanche Canada website. Click here. 
  • Practice with your avalanche beacon prior to the trip – at the very least understand all of its functions and how to use them.
  • Bring hand sanitizer along and use it often – this will help keep any bugs we bring into the huts at bay!

RISK

It is important to understand that no matter how well prepared we are there is still an element of risk to backcountry skiing. To lower that risk, do the prep work I’ve outlined in the safety section.

You will all need to sign a waiver that will make you well aware of that risk. Please have a look at the waiver at the link above so you understand what the risks are and what you will be signing when you get here.

MEDICAL ISSUES

If any of you have allergies or medical conditions I need to know about, please let me know as soon as possible by filling out the guest information form. 

MOUNTAIN RESCUE

In nearly thirty years of guiding I have only had three evacuations from the field for minor injuries or illness. 

There is a professional mountain rescue team on call in Banff National Park. If you have national park permits for your vehicles you will not be charged if you require a rescue or an evacuation.

Communications

I have a radio that can be used to contact rescue crews in an emergency only.

I will also be carrying a SPOT device, which links to satellites and sends a simple message showing that all is “OK”. This message and a link to Google Maps showing our location are posted to my Facebook page at facebook.com/alpinism. Your friends and family can keep track of us there; you can access that Facebook page without having an account or password. There is also an SOS function where we can call for help on the SPOT device.

The Bottom Line

  • Click on this link to fill out the Guest Information Form – do it right now and I won’t have to hassle you about it again!
  • Read and understand the guide waiver carefully ahead of time. You don’t need to sign the waiver now, you will do that once you arrive for the trip.
  • Have a look at the gear list at the end of this info package and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list.
  • Let me know if you need me to provide any equipment for you.

Questions?

If you have any questions let me know!

Gear List

You need to have everything on the list!

I can provide safety gear such as shovel, probe, transceiver and harness. Let me know as soon as possible if you need any of this.

I provide transceiver rentals for $12/day, all other equipment I provide free of charge.

AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVERS – IMPORTANT

Your transceiver has to have been manufactured since 2001 (so it meets EN 300718 standard). It is best if your transceiver is less than 10 years old. 

We only allow modern digital transceivers on our trips.

Modern transceivers can have compatibility issues with transceivers manufactured before 2001 and any analog transceivers even if they work on the same frequency.

The manufacturer should have tested your transceiver within the last 3 years. If this hasn’t been done you must have tested your transceiver yourself for distance in both transmit and receive modes – it needs to have a signal at a minimum of 30 metres.

No "analog" transceivers are allowed. We also do not allow some older style digital transceivers. 

The following transceivers are not allowed on this trip:

  • Ortovox: F1, M1, M2, X1, D3, Patroller, Patroller Digital
  • SOS: all types
  • Pieps: Vector (recalled) and Freeride
  • Others: any transceiver manufactured before 2001

I can recommend the following transceivers for those of you who do not have a lot of experience searching with transceivers:

  • Pieps DSP Sport

There are many other transceivers available. If they are sold by MEC they are acceptable. 

Let me know if you would like more information on transceivers.

If your transceiver does not meet the specifications above you will not be going skiing!

COMMON EQUIPMENT PROBLEMS

Issues we see with ski equipment include the following. Some of these problems might end your ski week or at least make life very frustrating! Make sure you have these things sorted out before the trip.

  • Slow skis/boards. Make sure your bases are smooth and waxed! A tune-up for your skis/board is well worth the investment.
  • Inappropriate backcountry skis/boards: too heavy, too narrow or skis/boards that are not backcountry specific. Try to keep your set-up as light as possible. Ski width under your foot should be in the 95-110 mm range, give or take. Narrower than this and you may have issues in deep snow or crust conditions, wider than this is often too heavy.
  • Old skins. Make sure your skin glue is in good shape and get them fixed if the glue is dirty, in clumps, or the glue has worn off at the edges or ends of the skins. If your skins don't work you can't go skiing. Some shops can replenish or re-glue skins for you or you can do it yourself. Here are a couple of tutorials: Replenishing Re-glueing
  • Boot problems. Ill-fitting boots will give you blisters. And all boots have bolts and rivets that may come loose. If your boots are brand new or well-worn make sure fittings are tight and in good shape. Bring specific tools to tighten the bolts/screws on your boots and check them a couple of times over the week.
  • Binding problems. Beware of the following bindings:
    • Any Naxo bindings
    • First generation Diamir Vipec bindings (manufactured 2012-2013)
    • Early generation G3 Onyx or Ruby bindings (2008-2010) - more info here 
    • Dynafit Radical 1.0 (manufactured 2011-2012) - see information for a recall here.

SKIING EQUIPMENT

Make sure all ski gear is in good shape and you are familiar with its use.

  • AT touring skis or telemark skis or splitboard
    • Understand that telemark and snowboard bindings may not be releasable and greatly increase your risk if caught in an avalanche. 
    • No snowboard/snowshoe combinations, splitboards only.
  • Skins
  • Ski crampons
  • Boots: If they are new ensure you have the fit worked out! I recommend a professional boot fitting.
  • Digital avalanche transceiver. See recommendations above.
  • Avalanche shovel
  • Avalanche probe (see a G3 probe recall here)
  • Skin wax: I find a simple candle works fine.
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles
  • Water bottle and/or thermos
  • Small headlamp
  • Small personal first aid/repair kit: band aids, blister kit, headache pills, hand and toe warmers, extra batteries for transceiver and headlamp, duct tape, pocket knife, special binding and boot parts.
  • Toilet kit: toilet paper, baggie for used paper, hand sanitizer
  • Camera
  • 50-60 L capacity backpack. All your gear and clothing must fit in your pack. Nothing should be strapped to the outside.
  • Optional safety gear: ski helmet, Avalung, balloon pack. 

Rescue Equipment etc (I can supply this if required)

  • Harness - any sit harness will do but one like the Black Diamond Couloir is good in that it can be put on easily while wearing ski boots and skis.
  • 3 locking carabiners
  • 1 - 5 m x 6 mm prussik cord
  • 1 - 120 cm webbing sling
  • You may bring more crevasse rescue equipment if you are trained with its use

CLOTHING SYSTEMS

  • Be prepared for temperatures from -20 to +5! Average temperatures at this time of year are normally about -5 to -12.
  • Several thin layers are better than fewer thicker layers. No cotton!
  • Long underwear tops and bottoms - wool or synthetic
  • Ski pants – softshell or light hardshell pants both are fine
  • Thin windbreaker/softshell top - for walking uphill in warm conditions
  • Warmer softshell jacket – I prefer a hooded jacket but it’s not absolutely necessary
  • Shell jacket – to keep the wet out, Gore-tex or similar seems best
  • Warm down or synthetic "puffy" jacket – for breaks and emergency use
  • Lightweight gloves – for walking uphill in warm conditions
  • Warm gloves – 2 pairs (mittens are optional but recommended if you get cold hands)
  • Hand warmers if you get cold hands
  • Toque
  • Balaclava or neck tube – essential for cold conditions
  • Sun hat

Hut GEAR

  • Slippers or lightweight shoes
  • Toiletries including toilet paper
  • Ear plugs
  • Sleeping bag - the sleeping quarters are relatively warm so a bag rated to about 0 degrees is fine.

GROUP GEAR

The guide will provide:

  • Group first aid kit
  • Group repair kit
  • Emergency toboggan/shelter
  • Radio
  • GPS, compass, map etc
  • Good looks and bright personality

Hut gear

The huts have the following:

  • Outhouses, no paper
  • All cooking utensils
  • All eating utensils
  • Propane stoves with lots of propane
  • Propane lighting
  • Mattresses
  • Wood burning or electric heat