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Mount Collie in a day on skis from Bow Lake
Timestamp Free: 2018.12.17 - 03:11:08
Ranges: North America Ranges / Rocky Mountains / Canadian Rockies / Continental Ranges / Park Ranges / Wapta Icefield
  (1 days)     Elevation Gain: 1900m
Participants: Steven S, Ferenc J, Vern D
Difficulty: 4: Steep avalanche slopes and general glacier mountaineering.
A one day ascent of Mount Collie from the Bow Lake parking lot on skis.
On Tuesday, April 29 2014 I joined Steven and Ferenc on a long desired day trip of Mount Collie on the Wapta Icefield in Yoho National Park. Reading the trip reports on Collie and talking to people who have done it sounded intimidating. According to them, you could either get lucky and follow someone else's footprints to the summit, or more likely, be turned back by the narrow, double-corniced summit ridge. I spent 6 or 7 years just waiting for the perfect combination of weather, time and partners to attempt it and that day finally came with an omega block weather pattern and low-low-low avalanche forecasts.

Mount Collie is usually considered an overnight peak. Most people spend at least 1 night in either Bow Hut or in a winter camp closer to the objective before ascending it the next day. This is the safer and preferred way, but the peak can be skied in a long day trip from the Bow Lake parking lot with the right partners, weather and avy conditions. The reason you need good avy conditions is rather obvious when you see the photos, but if you're attempting it as a day trip you need a rare combination of factors to come together. You need;

  • a clear day so you can ski across the Wapta efficiently and safely
  • solid snow so that you can do the upper ridge around noon (it takes 6 hours just to get there)
  • good snow conditions on descent to avoid a nightmare slog back across the Wapta

    I woke up at 02:45 and by 03:00 I was on my way to pick up Ferenc and Steven from Ferenc's house. I drove fairly fast and we ended up at the Bow Lake parking lot at 06:00, which was nice. It was -10 at Bow Lake so we knew we had a good night's freeze. Skiing across Bow Lake, I was very surprised how wintry it felt. The lake was still completely snow covered and the...

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