Waputik Peak


 

Trip Details
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Yes
Trip Date: 
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Summit Elevation (m): 
2,736
Summit Elevation (ft): 
8,977
Elevation Gain (m): 
1200
Round Trip Time: 
9.00
Total Distance (km): 
18.00
Difficulty Notes: 

No technical difficulties. The crux is the approach up Bath Creek which is overgrown and bushy in spots.

Map
Trip Report

On Saturday, May 23 2015 Raf and I decided we were in the mood for an easy scramble. We settled on Waputik Peak on the border of Banff and Yoho National Parks after Raf assured me that the slopes looked dry already a week ago. I couldn't believe there was that little snow already near the divide - but he was right.

 

After doing many over night ski trips and big snow ascents in the past month, it felt wonderful to lift a light day pack! The route to Waputik is quite straight forward. Follow an old trail up Bath Creek (it was already overgrown in 2002) until the slopes get easier on the right and follow them to the summit. Sounds easy anyway... ;) Accessing the Bath Creek proved to be an exercise in creativity. We knew that Fab and Josee had parked about 1km past the Bath Creek bridge so we decided to check that access out. There's a picnic area just before the "Welcome to BC" sign on the highway and we parked there and walked around to see if there were any signs forbidding us access. No signs - but no easy access either! The fence that runs along hwy 1 is doing a good job keeping folks out - probably a better job keeping us out than wildlife off the highway. :( I have no idea why there's no gates to allow hikers access to areas that aren't closed, but in any case there were no signs (and no closures on the Banff web site) indicating we couldn't access this area so we decided to go for it. We had to get creative to avoid the train tracks but eventually we found ourselves alongside Bath Creek on an old overgrown trail. (UPDATE: I was informed me via email that there is still access to the old Bath Creek trailhead. Apparently if you "look for where the creek passes under the highway" there is a gate. I think this is the only place we didn't check! :))

 

 
[Our approximate route in Google Earth. ++]

 

Before I go into details of our trek up Bath Creek, a quick note about the name. Apparently in 1881 Major A. B. Rogers, the chief surveyor for CP Rail took a spill off his horse while crossing the swift water - thereafter the name Bath Creek was deemed appropriate.

 

I think we underestimated the creek approach. Looking at the summit register, there's very few ascents of this peak and with the current access difficulties I'm sure there's even less folks wandering up Bath Creek than before the fences and access restrictions came into play. The trail was distinct in places, but the theme was light bushwhacking, getting lost a few times, ascending and descending to get around washouts and some nice travel where the river allowed us to walk on gravel flats. The travel was never brutal, but it was much bushier than Inglismaldie in case you thought that approach was tough. ;) Running across some old cabins on the trail was kind of cool. I find it hard to believe, but apparently these cabins weren't known to Banff archeologists before 2011. They were probably used by CP Rail workers in the area in the late 1800's, early 1900's.

 


[The trail starts out pretty well-defined]


[This used to be part of the trail but is now a tributary of the main Bath Creek - looking back where we came from]

 
[A cross country ski sign shows up in the bush! :) I'm pretty confident that this sign is long past the maintaining of any trails in this area but it's the only sign we saw all day which certainly implies the area isn't officially closed to hikers. The temptation here is to follow the obvious overgrown road uphill, but don't bother because you'll have to backtrack back to Bath Creek.]


[It was nice when we could walk along the raging creek. This wasn't the norm...]


[The old cabins]


[Even an old bed frame was visible in one of the cabins]

 

I know the Bath Valley is a hotspot for bears, especially with very few humans bothering with it and sure enough, we spotted some large and very fresh tracks along the creek. Good thing I left my bear spray at home... ;) Eventually the ascent slope came into view. We stayed climber's right of the small creek that joins Bath and followed it in thicker bush until more open slopes became visible above us. The sun was incredibly hot by the time we started up steep rubble, inching to climber's left where the slope wasn't blocked by cliff bands above. There was very little snow to assist us as we ascended. We weren't impressed with the 4 or 5 wood ticks that were crawling on us after a quick water break - I hate those critters! I even spotted the rear end of a goat (the namesake of the peak) but no close encounters with any hoofed or clawed animals on this particular day. We utilized some snow patches, which were going isothermal quickly, and eventually the views across the Bath Glacier and down the highway 1 corridor started opening up. The giant Lake Louise peaks also became more and more impressive as we slogged up the easy summit slopes to the highest point. It was t-shirt weather on the summit - no wind and VERY warm. A raven even joined us as we admired unique views of familiar peaks in all directions. 

 


[Some impressive washouts along Bath Creek]


[Hmmm. Based on the distance between the main foot pad and the toe pads, I think this is a large black bear track.]


[Finally our ascent slope shows up - still over 1km distant. We will ascend this side of the ridge, then cross over the ridge and continue in a rising left traverse to the summit.]


[Crossing the ridge with Bath Creek far below already. It's HOT already too!]


[Loose, rubbly terrain - it felt good to be scrambling again!]


[Raf comes up with Bosworth in the background]


[Higher, with Bosworth in the bg again]


[I was very surprised to see flowers in the alpine already!]


[Raf at the col between the true summit (L) and south summit (R)]


[Looking up to the summit from the col]


[Lots of interesting terrain to keep me interested on the way up]

 
[Raff on the shoulder of Waputik with a panorama of peaks starting to show up behind us. ++]


[The "Bath Exit" from the Wapta is visible here beneath Mount Daly (L)]

 
[Raf comes up to the summit. From L to R Daly, Hector Lake, Hector, Skoki and Lake Louise peaks. ++]


[Raf with Mount Daly in the bg. We both agree that Daly is one of the best Kane scrambles]


[The tallest mountain on the Wapta Icefield - Mount Balfour]


[Looking across Hector Lake at Bow, Dolomite, Watermelon, Noseeum]


[Mount Hector looms over hwy 93 in this unique view]


[Tele of the peaks beyond Dolomite]


[My last Kane scramble and another favorite - Carnarvon]


[Yet another favorite in the area (I love Yoho...) - Cathedral Mountain]


[Impressive peaks in the Lake Louise area]


[The Goodsirs]


[Looking over the Niblock Glacier at Pope's Peak, Victoria, Hungabee and Lefroy]


[Mount Temple and the Bow Corridor]


[Armor Peak and Protection Mountain]


[Mount Douglas and St. Bride]


[An interesting peek at Molar Mountain between Hector (L) and Hector S2 (R)]


[Pilot Mountain]


[Interesting summit register - not very full!]

 
[One more pano looking over hwy 93 towards Hector Lake and Mount Hector ++]


[Hector Lake is melting quickly]


[Good luck?]


[Vern on the summit of Waputik Peak]


[Apparently Mount Owen is worth a look - I'll have to check it out soon]

 

After signing the register and having a bite to eat, we reluctantly headed back down. The weather was so beautiful and the views so excellent that we were tempted to linger but the day was later than we expected and neither of us was psyched about the thrash back along the raging Bath Creek. The descent to the creek went quickly - in part thanks to the snow patches we used - and soon we were thrashing our way back out under a scorching sun. Honestly - it felt like mid summer. We even dunked our heads into the creek a few times to cool off! I think it might be a brutal year for fires if we don't get some moisture and cooler temperatures soon. Finally we came back to the highway and our parking area. The sun was still baking hot at 18:00!

 


[It feels like summer as we descend on this beautiful day. Looking down Bath Creek.]


[More flowers are out already - Violets]


[Looking up the lower descent slopes]


[This is the stream that joins Bath Creek - stay climber's right of this stream when you encounter it and start ascending from along it.]


[Back at Bath Creek]


[A gorgeous place to be hiking]


[Super clear water from a hillside spring - tasted wonderful too]


[Tiny beauties]


[Lots of detritus left over from the "good ol'" mining / exploration days in the area]

 

Overall, I can honestly say that Waputik Peak is a worthwhile scramble. It's not easy to access and rarely ascended as a result. The Bath Creek drainage is wild and beautiful and the views from the summit are unique and excellent. Fall might be a good time to do this peak as the bush would be slightly easier to navigate and the creek wouldn't be so fast and high. Good luck figuring out how to access it through all the barriers though! :)

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