Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shortest Time Possible, Period.

A few of my friends are off on the Wapta Traverse in the next little while in two separate groups. One group, disappointingly for them, lost 50% of their group prior to the trip, going from a party of six to a party of three. The other party gained a member. One persons loss IS another persons gain, I guess.

I thought about going along, although I have done the Wapta Traverse, it was many years ago. The cost, among other issues, however, turned out to be prohibitive. My friends are taking six days to ski the Wapta, spending five nights in the huts, and another two nights at the Lake Louise Hostel. At around $45 for each night, accommodation alone adds to over $300. Then there is the Parks Canada vehicle pass, the inevitable meals out, gas, and soon, the tab will be over $400. I've spent less than that on backcountry lodge weeks with helicopter access.

Could take a tent, I thought, but my pack would be awfully heavy with six days of food, a tent, stove, sleeping bag, sleeping pad etc. My limit for load carrying on ski trips is eight days, but that is shared with another person. I'm not sure I could fit gear and food for six days in my pack, and I'm damned sure, I don't want to carry that load.

Of course, were they doing the trip in a reasonable time frame - three days is perfectly adequate for doing the full Wapta Traverse - and even allows lots of time for peak bagging, I might have felt differently. I could carry a three day pack with all the gear with no problem. But, doubling that time frame, moves the trip from a pleasant easy three day weekend, to a long, tedious grind with a pack that is far heavier than it needs to be, and a party that moves commensurately slower than they need to move.

The entire Wapta Traverse from Peyto Lake to Sherbrooke Lake is only 40 km and 1500 metres of elevation gain - it's been done numerous times in a day - and, all those years ago, it was a relaxing three day trip. After all, you don't carry any camping gear, so your pack is only modestly heavier than a standard daypack. Why anyone wants to (almost) literally crawl across it taking twice as long as necessary is inexplicable to me. Unless the purpose IS to expose yourself to a greater chance of bad weather or bad conditions, I can't see any logic in it.

Perhaps it's the old mountaineering philosophy scratched onto my soul after so many years, get up early, get out there, get it done, get back, shortest time possible, period.

On the Whitewater to Proctor Traverse:
Twice as far done in half the time

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