Steven Song's Peak-bagging Journey

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The Onion

I never thought of squeezing in a Wapta trip at the end of this year, until when Kevin Papke invited me to a 2-day trip to Bow Hut, and that would be right after my last final exam, at the shortest day-time of the year, and also the what's so called "End of the World". Of course I was interested in, but given the fact I had no backcountry skiing experience, I managed to do a solo ascent up Monarch Ramparts one week ago, and I felt good except for getting multiple blisters.

The group split up into two. Vern, Kelly, and Wietse would ski in Thursday afternoon, while Kevin, Bill and I would go in Friday morning. As the date coming close, the forecast didn't look to be inviting, but not too bad neither. Anyway, I left Edmonton at around 9pm Thursday evening, and slept in car (-15 degree) at Highway 22 Junction. That was a cold night, and we grouped together at 6:30am Friday morning. (I finally met Bill Kerr). The driving was pretty slow due to the storm snow fallen Thursday night, and Icefield Parkway was all snow covered. Glad we had Bill's jeep. Under this condition, you definitely need 4x4 and winter tires. Weather was much better than expected, and by the time we made to Bow Lake, it was bluebird!

We eventually managed to start at about 9:40, and needless to say, this was quite a late start... The skiing across Bow Lake was a slog, but the view was awesome under morning light. The ski track disappeared at the first hill section, and from there on, we had to break trail all the way in. Anyway, at the first canyon, the route goes into the trees on climber's left side, up for about 50 vertical meters, crossing an avalanche slope, and then descending into the valley floor again. Now facing towards Bow Falls, we took the left hand side canyon. We managed to stay at the bottom of this canyon for a long distance, and eventually we had to take off skis over a 3m rock step. I didn't remember this part on my snowshoeing trip to Mount Gordon, but that was in April, and the snowpack was much thicker. The route then goes into the trees again, passing the turn-off to Crowfoot Mountain, and then we were staring at Bow Hut. We picked up a line on left side, maintaining elevation, over some undulating terrain, and eventually veered right, up a steep slope. It took us more than 3.5 hours to the Hut... Wow, it only took me 2h 20min on snowshoes in April... That's the difference between following tracks versus breaking trail, and travelling light versus having a big pack...

For us, the Bow Hut wasn't an energy sucker, but definitely a time sucker... We spent about 40min in the hut, and eventually decided to continue at about 2pm, and by this time, we only had a bit more than 2.5h daylight time. Bill had done Vulture Peak so it was only Kevin and I going up the headwall. We met Vern's group coming back from Gordon, and after a bit of discussion, we figured out we wouldn't have enough time for Vulture. So instead of attempting and failing, I pointed out the alternate objective, The Onion. The weather was so nice, and bagging something is always better than nothing. There's nothing to describe about The Onion, except we took off skis too early and ended up post-holing..

Skiing down the headwall was a blast, and in no time we made back to the Hut, and surprisingly, we had the entire hut to ourselves! I finally met Kelly Smith. We are both from Edmonton but we didn't know each other before.. A big thank to Bill who gave me treatment on blisters, and then a big big thank to Kelly who prepared the best meal I've ever had in the mountains. Wow!! We shared mountain stories for the next couple of hours, and then nervously went to bed hoping the world wouldn't end...

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Observation Peak
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Observation Peak
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Portal & Thompson
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Portal & Thompson
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Mount Jimmy Simpson
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Mount Jimmy Simpson
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Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
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Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
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5
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Sunrise over Bow Peak
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Sunrise over Bow Peak
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Bow Lake
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Bow Lake
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8
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Crossing Bow Lake
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Crossing Bow Lake
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Observation Peak
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Observation Peak
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Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
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Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
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Bill Kerr skiing across Bow Lake
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Bill Kerr skiing across Bow Lake
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Portal Peak
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Portal Peak
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Kevin & Bill with their big packs
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Kevin & Bill with their big packs
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Skiing up the first hill
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Skiing up the first hill
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Portal & Thompson
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Portal & Thompson
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Portal Peak
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Portal Peak
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Mount Thompson
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Mount Thompson
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Bow Falls
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Bow Falls
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The 2nd Canyon
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The 2nd Canyon
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The Onion
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The Onion
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Avalanche coming off Vulture Peak
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Avalanche coming off Vulture Peak
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Avalanche coming off Vulture Peak
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Avalanche coming off Vulture Peak
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St. Nicolas Peak
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St. Nicolas Peak
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Rhondda & Habel
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Rhondda & Habel
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Mount Thompson
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Mount Thompson
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The Wapta Icefield
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The Wapta Icefield
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Crowfoot Mountain
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Crowfoot Mountain
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Vulture, Olive, St. Nick
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Vulture, Olive, St. Nick
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Wapta Icefield
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Wapta Icefield
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Vulture Peak
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Vulture Peak
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Mt. Olive & St. Nicolas Peak
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Mt. Olive & St. Nicolas Peak
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Mount Collie
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Mount Collie
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Mount Rhondda
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Mount Rhondda
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Mount Baker & Tilly Point
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Mount Baker & Tilly Point
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Mt. Thompson & Portal Peak
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Mt. Thompson & Portal Peak
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Look back towards Bow Lake
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Look back towards Bow Lake
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Bow Lake
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Bow Lake
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Mount Jimmy Simpson
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Mount Jimmy Simpson
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Observation Sub-Peak
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Observation Sub-Peak
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An outlier of Crowfoot Mtn.
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An outlier of Crowfoot Mtn.
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Me on the summit
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Me on the summit
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Me on the summit
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Me on the summit
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Kevin on the summit
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Kevin on the summit
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Kevin skiing down the headwall
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Kevin skiing down the headwall
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Kevin skiing down the headwall
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Kevin skiing down the headwall
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Kevin skiing down the headwall
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Kevin skiing down the headwall
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Dinner at Bow Hut
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Dinner at Bow Hut
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Dinner at Bow Hut
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Dinner at Bow Hut
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Dinner at Bow Hut
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Dinner at Bow Hut
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Photos taken by Steven