Family Day weekend from Peyto Hut

Family Day weekend from Peyto Hut
February 23, 2019 Keith MacIsaac

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.

A quick stop in the moraines as the sun tries to emerge


Karen’s all smile as she works her way up from the lake.

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.

Mt Rhondda(left) & Mt Habel(right)

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.

Looking back at our skin track towards the hut


Brad breaks trail to the col of two unnamed smaller peaks


Eva reaches the col (Trapper peak in background)

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 look ahead towards Mistaya Mountain


A small boot pack after the skin across the bowl (Karen pictured)

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.

Keith before the final push to the top


Views from the top. If you look closely you can spot the Dolmite Peaks


One last view before the descent (Jiri & Andrew pictured)

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.

Peyto hut nestled under a full moon

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.

The group ropes up for the Mt Habel approach (Andrew pictured in foreground)


Jiri only ever seemed to think of one dirrection


John reaching the top of the shoulder with great views of the Wapta


Lorne is ready to go


Great turns off Mt Habel shoulder

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.

Andrew coming off the Peyto Glacier and heading for home


One last boot pack down through the morraines

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.

Keith MacIsaac




Some of my activities include scrambling, hiking (bonus if there is a lake to fly fish), backpacking and ski touring. I enjoy meeting members to gain further knowledge and share in my experiences.


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