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Rocky Mountain Ramblers Association


Earlier In the year I had watched a Ted Peck's B.C. Outdoors T.V. Programme, which described a seaplane fishing trip into a remote part of the province. Having been impressed, I got the map out of the car one lunchtime and looked the area over. Fourteen miles from Sunwapta Falls (Jasper Highway), no great increase in altitude but two nasty fords involved. The Athabasca and the Chaba Rivers. A fisherman friend said the Athabasca was fordable most times late in the camping/hiking season.

Ten of us selected the Labour Day 3-day weekend to do this Rambler first and camp was made at mile 7 on the Saturday afternoon. Views of Mt. Quincy and Fortress Mountain were spectacular from our sandbar campsite.

Sunday was the big day - could we ford the Athabasca? We had a ninety-five foot rope that we all clung to in the numbing cold water and we all made it without mishap, to the other side. The Chaba was next, wider but not so deep. The hike to the lake was an easy grade, partly through a burnt out area, till the Great Divide and then only a slight rise at the end of the large lake. An old cabin was found and we sat on the roof and took in views of Chisel Peak,and the Hooker Glacier. Then seven miles back and the two fords to our campsite.

Though the weather was warm and clear skies I remember how cold the Athabasca was, also no beer bottles or litter were seen, we all remember how high the water came up on Cedric's wife Robin, and Alastair remembers Wally's howl when he discovered Marg Sharp had spilled her jam jar in his car.

Jim Kirkpatrick


Wilf Twelker led his first of many Ramblers glacier igloo trips on Easter weekend April 8-10, 1966.

For a long time Wilf had planned this ski traverse from Bow Lake or Peyto Lake to Wapta Lake over the Wapta and Waputik Icefields. Lynn Oliver, Ray Marriner and Wally Drew joined him on this venture.

Having divided up the food and made up our packs the night before, we left Calgary at 4:00 a.m. Friday in Lynn's and Wally's cars. We met for breakfast at Deadman's Flat. Lynn and Ray were delayed there since Ray had to buy steaks to replace ours that he had left in his fridge! We met again at the Warden station at Wapta, where Wilf signed us out and we left Lynn's car. All four of us then went in Wally's car to Bow Lake, which was our trailhead.

Heavily laden with food, sleeping bags, stoves, ice axes, rope, etc., we set off across Bow Lake about 8:30 a.m. beneath cloudy skies. The sun broke through at times as we climbed up through the canyon to the headwaters of the Bow River. The snow was hard and icy. We ate lunch before the steep 2000' climb up onto the Wapta Icefield.

The first night was spent in an igloo at 9200' elevation on Wapta Icefield just east of St. Nicholas Peak. Wilf supervised the building of this fine igloo in a howling snowstorm. It was finished before dark. We ate a steak dinner by candlelight before crawling into our sacks. We had made only five miles the first day but had climbed over 3000'.

Saturday we had white-out conditions with snow and blowing snow. We were in the clouds, so horizontal visibility was usually limited to a couple of hundred yards, occasionally increasing to a mile or two. These conditions persisted all day. Leaving the igloo about 11:00 a.m. we headed south for Balfour Pass.

We followed a ridge of Mt. Olive detouring around an ice fall. Then, running out of landmarks, we took a compass reading from the map and navigated by compass. We still did not find the pass when we thought we should be there. We thought we saw the hut and skied over to find that it was a four-foot-high rock. We searched back and forth and then ate lunch.

After that a short steep climb and a lifting cloud gave us a view of a peak right in front of us. Lynn and Wilf recognized it as Mt. Olive. We were 1 and 1/2 miles north of Balfour Pass and 1.1/2 miles south of our first igloo. Since it was 4:30 p.m. we started building our second igloo there at the east end of Vulture Col at 8900' elevation. With Wilf again doing the construction, and Ray and Lynn becoming adept at block-cutting, this masterpiece took only 2 and 112 hours to complete. Wally, failing as a block cutter, handed the blocks up to Wilf. Again after dinner by candlelight, we slept snugly while the wind roared outside. We had a short joke session before bedtime and Lynn's joke got the loudest laughs.

It was still blowing and snowing Sunday, but a hazy sun did break through occasionally and we could see 2 or 3 miles. We'd had to abandon plans of going through to Wapta. We did get out the maps and found out why we'd missed Balfour pass Saturday. We'd navigated correctly but had started out from the wrong ridge of Mt. Olive.

Sunday morning we again left the igloo about 11:00 a.m. and climbed to the 9500' pass between Mt. Olive and St. Nicholas Peak. Then we skied down around the west and north sides of St. Nicholas peak and back to Bow Lake. Then after a drive to Wapta to retrieve Lynn's car, we met at Canmore for dinner.

It was disappointing that the weather beat us and we couldn't complete our traverse, especially after all of Wilf's planning and preparations.

At least it wasn't severely cold up on the lcefield. We had it in the 20's by day and the teens by night. It was good experience for Ray and Wally, being their first overnight glacier trip. Ray took to the igloo building like an expert.

Wally Drew