Bow Summit
On 22 December 2018, Mike Lisenko, Zosia Zgolak and I headed up the Icefields Parkway in Alberta's Banff National Park to kick off a weekend of easy backcountry skiing.  With avalanche danger rated as "Considerable" in the park for the weekend, we took up a suggestion from our friend, Wendy Kadar, to ski in more conservative terrain at Bow Summit, a popular backcountry skier's playground near Peyto Lake.  From the plowed parking lot (located along Highway 93, 44 kilometres north of the junction with Trans-Canada Highway), we followed a broken path through the snow-covered road leading to Peyto Lake viewpoint.  Near the turnoff to the viewpoint, we headed south and climbed gradually until we reached the bottom of a steep slope near tree line.  A couple of skiers were already here evaluating the slope, and after some discussions, we all agreed that the slope appeared safe enough to ski.  Zigzagging up the slope, Mike and one of the other skiers did a commendable job of breaking trail for the rest of us, and when we all reached a small plateau, we removed our skins and enjoyed a short but exhilarating run back down.
If it looks chilly, that's because it is! Zosia and Mike ski up the snow-covered road which leads to Peyto Lake viewpoint.
I guess Mike wants to break his own trail through the snow!  Mount Patterson gleams in the morning sun.
So much for the sun! The trees begin to thin out as Mike and Zosia turn southward.
These two skiers were also from Calgary. Mike and Zosia catch up to a couple other skiers at the base of an enticing slope.
Avalanche hazard was rated "Considerable" on this day, but we felt this slope was safe enough to ski. Zosia follows Mike and the other two skiers up the slope.
Some of the switchbacks were challenging to turn up. Zosia cuts up a switchback in the steep slope.
Getting first tracks! Mike (right) is ready to ski down the slope.  Note the skiers at the bottom of the slope.

Lotsa good skiing on the opposite side of the valley...

Notable peaks visible to the southeast include Cirque Peak, Dolomite Peak, Mount Hector and Bow Peak.


She's rippin' it! Zosia carves a turn near the bottom of the slope.
While the other two skiers re-ascended the same slope for a second run, Mike, Zosia and I opted to follow the tracks of another party of skiers that had arrived shortly after us.  They had decided to forego our slope and climb another ridge further to the south.  We followed their tracks for a short distance but found that they had turned around soon after to ski down some slopes to the east.  We climbed a little higher up the ridge until we could get a view of Bow Lake to the southeast.  The terrain further south of here is complex and more prone to avalanches, and we decided to remove our skins here and ski back the way we came.
Chasing the elusive sun! Mike and Zosia continue climbing further south and would eventually reach the bottom of the ridge the sun is peeking over.
Chilly conversation between a Kazakh and a Pole! Mike and Zosia pause for a breather on a sunny ridge with Observation Peak in the background.

Keep on grindin'!

Mike and Zosia climb further up the ridge below some impressive cliffs.


Brrrr...the wind bites up here! Bow Lake finally comes into view from the highest point reached by the group.
When Mike, Zosia and I returned to the base of the first slope we skied, we ran into our friends, Andrea Battistel and Peter Alvarado Henostroza.  They decided to ski a few laps of the same slope, and Mike and I joined them for one or two runs while Zosia tried to stay warm by exploring some nearby terrain.  After sharing a few turns and a few laughs with Andrea and Peter, we parted ways, and Mike, Zosia and I resumed our descent back to the parking lot.
Making it look easy! Andrea gets a few turns in on the slope that Mike, Sonny and Zosia skied earlier.
I think you nailed your landing, Peter! Peter ends up in a rather awkward position after one of his runs.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

On the way back to the parking lot, Mike, Zosia and I made a brief detour to the Peyto Lake viewpoint which is popular with tourists even in winter.  From there, we took the narrower hikers' trail back to the parking lot for some variety and even a few spills.

After packing up our gear, we drove north along the Icefields Parkway into Jasper National Park to spend the night at Beauty Creek Hostel.  When we arrived at the deserted rustic hostel, we had a lot of trouble getting the propane-powered heaters to fire up.  Admittedly, there was a bit of a gong show with respect to figuring out which of the plethora of gas valves to open, but when we eventually did get the heaters going, the place warmed up nicely.  Although we were under the impression that the hostel was fully booked for the night, surprisingly no one else showed up, and we had the entire place all to ourselves.
Bloody tourists! Mike and Zosia enjoy some sunshine again at Peyto Lake viewpoint.
Maybe I'll re-ascend this one someday in better weather... Caldron Peak dominates the view across Peyto Lake.
The place still feels like an icebox! Mike warms up a dinner placemat to sit on at Beauty Creek Hostel.