After Dinah and I attempted Waputik Peak in 2002, we've always wanted to return, so when the Calgary Meetup posted a trip, we seized the opportunity. Accompanied by Manon and led by Carl who bagged Waputik three years earlier, we made the summit. We're grateful to have had Carl do the routefinding for us.
From Lake Louise, we drove about 9 km to a bend where a side road branches off. After parking, we crossed railroad tracks and set off up a trail. As Carl put it, the trail sucked us into staying on it longer than we should have. We left it but soon picked up another trail alongside Bath Creek. But this trail, a marked ski trail, also lulled us into complacency. We should have left it before it started climbing. We had to bushwhack a few hundred metres to get back to Bath Creek. After that, by bushwhacking and using a smattering of animal trails, we stuck as close to the bank as we could.
After hiking a few kilometres along the bank, with each kilometre looking much the same as the next, we reached a side creek. Using fallen logs, we crossed the creek and continued along Bath Creek for another 500 m to the cobble flats below the ascent slope. We then headed into the trees, and after several minutes of bushwhacking, we crossed another creek. To our chagrin, it was the side creek we had crossed earlier! Instead of crossing it at Bath Creek, we should have hiked up alongside it for 400-500 m, and then left it and headed northwest to the avalanche slope.
Eventually we came to the rubble that marked the base of an avalanche slope and the start of our ascent up Waputik. Because of the steep grade, this was the worst part of the route. We either slipped on the vegetation or stumbled on loose rock. No one had anything good to say about that slope, and there was some cursing when later we had to descend it.
Near the top of the slope, we bore left into the trees where we came across a good animal trail that led to a rubbly slope, a good place to take a break. Afterwards, we continued our upward slog until we at last reached the plateau where the grade eased. Here we coasted up gentle slopes and across snow patches to the final steep climb to the top of Waputik. It had taken us five hours to reach the summit, but it placed us squarely among many familiar and majestic peaks. We spent the better part of an hour admiring them.
Afterwards, we returned down to the bottom of the avalanche slope and made our way to the side creek. Instead of crossing it, we followed it easily to Bath Creek.
According to the summit register, Waputik Peak has seen only four ascents in the last ten years, surprising for an offtrail hike. But the long, troublesome approach should not deter anyone with patience and a desire for magnificent scenery to try it.
Following Bath Creek
Lots of boggy areas
The ascent slope
Our ascent line is the diagonal marked by the trees and grassy slope on the left.
Crossing the side creek
The cobble flats past the side creek
Heading up the avalanche slope. At the top, we'll turn left into the trees.
Crossing two huge slabs.
Manon hiking up the slope.
Grinding up the avalanche slope
Carl relaxes high above Bath Creek.
Hiking alongside stratified rocks.
Carl took us left into the trees, but going straight up may be more direct.
We climb above the timberline.
We'll head left of the gray cliffs on the skyline.
The summit (centre) rises above the plateau.
Mount Daly on the left
The grade eases on the plateau.
Snow persists on the plateau.
Heading to the summit
Victoria Peak rises behind Manon and Dinah.
Crossing another snow patch
Carl waits on the summit
Almost on the summit
Heading back across the plateau
Following the side creek
Remains of a cabin
82 N/8 Lake Louise and 82 N/9 Hector Lake (descent route)
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