Wawa Ridge

On 3 December 2016, Zosia Zgolak and I headed to Sunshine Village in Alberta's Banff National Park to ski up Wawa Ridge.  From the lower gondola station, we started up the trail toward Healy Pass before switching over to the resort's Ski Out which was still partially closed due to a thin snow pack.  This did not hamper us from skinning up anyway.  I have skinned up the Ski Out many times in the past, but I do not recall being engaged by resort employees or ski patrollers as much as we were on this day.  All of them questioned where we were heading as if to gauge whether or not we were going to try and sneak a free ride on one of the ski lifts.  One patroller even suggested that we take a less traveled and more roundabout route to get to Sunshine Village.  I got the impression that he was more interested in keeping us non-paying skiers out of sight rather than having a genuine desire to help us get where we were going more efficiently.  When we arrived at Sunshine Village, we took a short break inside the main lodge before resuming our climb up to the ski area boundary near the top of Wawa chair.  Despite overcast skies and occasional snow flurries, we had no problems finding our way up the easy south ridge to the telecommunications installation at the top.  The antenna equipment actually provided some much-welcomed shelter from a cold and blustery wind, but with no views to speak of on this day, there was not much incentive for us to linger.  Not wanting to ski down unfamiliar terrain, we simply retraced our route back to the ski area boundary and followed the ski runs to the Ski Out.  The Ski Out actually officially opened while we were ascending Wawa Ridge, but some of the lower sections were barely skiable with the thin snow coverage.  Thankfully, we did not have any wipeouts and only suffered a few scratches on the bases of our skis.
The snow is thinner than it looks here! Sonny skins up the trail which leads to Healy Pass.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Darn snowboarders are always sitting on their asses even at the base area! Zosia arrives at Sunshine Village.
Too bad about the lack of views... Zosia skis up the gentle south ridge.
You might want to boot-pack up from here if the snow pack is thin. The final stretch before the summit is a bit steeper.
That box made for a nice shelter from the wind! An antenna occupies the summit of Wawa Ridge.
It isn't pretty, but it's still a summit! Sonny is happy to bag another summit despite the lack of views.
Okay, let's get the hell outta here! Sonny and Zosia stand together near the summit of Wawa Ridge (2482 metres).
It makes no sense to wander further on a day like this. Zosia makes her way back down the south ridge.
It's mostly downhill from here...mostly... After removing her skins, Zosia is set for a long downhill run.
Taking it easy! Zosia skis down the run known as Meadow Park.
But barely skiable as we would soon find out! Zosia is shocked to find out that the Ski Out is open.
I would like to try this one again on a sunny, clear day. Total Distance:  16.5 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  5 hours 33 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  823 metres

GPX Data

I would return for a repeat ascent in 2018.