The following article is taken from the guidebook The Bow Valley: Banff to Castle Junction. Follow the link for a high res download or to purchase a book.
Wolverine Creek: Banff National Park
Most people will know this area by the Bourgeau Lake summer trail, but the area has more to offer for skiing than summer hiking. Most of the upper areas here suffer from poor forest access, and for that reason, I have left a lot of the area to be explored by the reader. The runs I do list are usually solid bets for snow and access, but the keen will soon realize there is a lot of untapped potential.
This is undoubtedly the easiest run to access for this area, but it isn’t very long, and in the early season, the snow is often too shallow to bother with. Still, if you are looking for an easy day out where effort is concerned, this might be the ticket.
Map Reference #178, 179
Vertical: 250m to the bottom of the path, up to 400m run depending on snow
Distance: 2km to the bottom of the path, run is about 0.5km
Directions: Park at the Bourgeau Lake trailhead and follow the summer trail about 2km to the first avalanche path. Skin up or beside the path to the first cliff and take the upper climber’s right branch. Go up this next open slope to the top, where you will find a rockfall zone. Beyond this, there is another climber’s right branch, but the snow here is often a bit suspect. Ski down the way you came stopping at the summer trail. Skiing down into Wolverine Creek is a bad idea. Follow the trail back to the parking lot to end your day.
Bourgeau Lake/Summit Tour
A tour up to the lake and onward to the summit is a long time classic for the area. I have often found hints of skinny tele ski tracks along the route leading to the top. The route to the lake has some isolated avalanche risk but heading further up through Harvey Pass has much more.
Reference #178, 101
Vertical: 750m to the lake, 1500m to the summit
Distance: 7.5km to the lake, 12.5km total to the summit
Directions: Park at the Bourgeau Lake trailhead and follow the summer trail past three avalanche paths before crossing Wolverine Creek. Head up the switchbacks to arrive in the low treeline. Head southwest to find Bourgeau Lake after another
set of trees. In this upper area, you are exposed to avalanches. If heading to the summit, go towards the west end of the lake to find the drainage leading to Harvey Pass. Follow it on the climber’s right side and work the open slope to the next lake bench. Wrap around the highpoint to the east to arrive at Harvey Pass, where the summit ridge of Mount Boureagu will become evident. Skin or walk (if too rocky) to and up the ridge. Midway up the ridge thins out a bit, and bootpacking may be required. The top section of the route is an open slope, and even when rocky, you can usually skin to the top. Return the same way you came.
To the northwest of Wolverine Creek, there are two diamond-shaped peaks that you can see from the highway. The way they look from the road misrepresents them, but the main features can be seen. The run that looks the most obvious from the road is less of an objective than it looks from there. The true prize is the higher peak that provides a long run heading into the forest. There is also a bowl feature on the far climber’s right that has some fun skiing in it, but I doubt most will venture that far. This peak is mislabelled on most mapping apps as Massive Mountain, and as far as I can tell, there is no official name for this one.
Reference #178, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185
Vertical: 800-1000m gain for access, 400m, 1000m and 200m runs
Distance: 3km access/0.8km run for first run, 5km access/2.4km run for second
run, 6.5km access/0.5km run for far bowl
Directions: Park at the Bourgeau Lake trailhead and follow the summer trail a very short distance to where it makes a left turn. Head into the forest to the climber’s right to arrive at Wolverine Creek. Cross the creek and work your way up some nasty bush for 30-40m of vertical. From here, the forest becomes more manageable. Continue west up the forest, often going up and over old moraines. You will find a clear drainage that leads to the first avalanche path on the lower diamond peak feature if you get lucky. If you want to ski this one, head to the skier’s left ridge to gain the top, which can be tricky due to the windblown snow higher up. Another option is to boot directly up the feature. To ski the longest run in the area, ignore this first path and keep heading up to the climber’s right. Usually, you will enter some thicker trees before popping out to the next avalanche path. Once in the bigger path, skin up either side of it to where you would like to start your run. In the upper-middle section you will see a tree sliver. You can work this to the first alpine bench, which can be skinned across
to access the smaller bowl run to the west. I have only skied this longer path from just below the summit cliff. If looking to drop in from the top, I don’t have much advice for you as it seems to be a pretty tricky spot to get to and ski from. From just below the summit cliff, the run is excellent. Stay to the skier’s right of the tree sliver and ski down where there are the least avalanche trees. As you enter the forest, you will find lots of open pockets with some boulder jumps. You can get turns almost back to the highway depending on snow depth. Once at the fence, skin back along it to get back to the parking lot.