Back before the snow even hit the autumn ground, Brad Duska was busy organizing a Family Day long weekend at Peyto hut. I was fortunate enough to get on the list early and have been looking forward since the New Year.
Once there, the group was to decide on which glacier objectives were of interest and whether or not weather conditions would cooperate enough to obtain some of them. As the date came closer, seven ACC Calgary members (Karen Woo, Eva Bartipanova, John Bence, Jiri Slaby, Andrew Venning, Lorne Filewych and Keith MacIsaac) were signed up and ready to join Brad for the trip. With what seemed as the longest cold snap ever here in Calgary, we were all just excited to get back outside and ski.
With carpools leaving Calgary, the plan was to ski in Saturday morning with quick breaks as not to let the cold get to us. Temperatures were still in the -20 range and the sky was overcast. Once at the small parking lot, we quickly loaded packs with group gear and were off down hill to the lake. After the long skin across the lake, we were warmed up and quickly ascending the moraines above. The plan was to navigate this section and rope up at the toe of the Peyto Glacier which was on the other side.
With minimal stops on the glacier, we arrived at the hut in good spirits. We settled in and over dinner discussed what our Sunday would provide us with. Although it was still overcast we were able to view the surrounding peaks of Mt. Habel, Trapper and Peyto. Maybe we would try for a summit or just lap the lower elevations and get some good skiing in. The final decision would be made at breakfast since our expectations of the weather changing much were low.
With no set time to wake up Sunday, the group was excited to wake to sunshine and clear skies. The temperatures were staying quite low but we were still eager to make the most of the frigid day ahead. The mention of Mistaya Mountain was mentioned over breakfast and everyone seemed interested although we all agreed an earlier start to the morning would probably helped if this was to be our goal for the day. We quickly ate, packed our day packs and decided we would at least start the approach and keep an eye on our time throughout the day.
After reaching the col West of Peyto Peak, views of Mistaya Mountain were ahead but still distant. There was an ugly wind blown slope ahead as well as a bowl to cross before the final climb up to the summit. We decided to leave ski skins on and navigate down the icy slab as best we could. Once at the bottom there was a small climb to reach the bowl.
The final push up Mistaya was a long grind. The slope was a mix of wind crust and wind formed moguls on top of a rocky surface. To say any of us were looking forward to the ski back down would be a lie. None the less, we had come this far and were now thinking of the final summit.
The total round trip for the day ended up being about 15km and 1100m climbed in an eight hour window. We made our way back to the hut, quite satisfied with the turn of events that started with clear skies that morning. That night dinner was enjoyed under the bright light of the full moon and we reminisced over a truly great day of skiing as a group.
Our final day (the holiday Monday), was time to leave. The group decided to squeeze in a few easy turns off the South East shoulder of Mt Habel that morning before departing the hut for the ski back to the cars. Once again, Mother Nature cooperated and gave us a bluebird day to work with.
After returning to the hut for the last of our belongings and a quick lunch, we were on our way back towards the lake. With the sun at our backs we headed for home.
The entire weekend turned out fantastic. The weather was cold but the groups determination to make the most out of it prevailed and getting the Mistaya Mountain summit on a weekend with low expectations turned out to be icing on the cake. I don’t think I could have asked for a better group of club members to head out with.