Scott Duncan Hut

Scott Duncan Hut

Built 1988

This was the final hut to be established on the Wapta Icefield, a very nice addition to the chain of huts which now makes the Wapta Traverse one of the classiest and most comfortable ski traverses in all of North America! Yes, it is that good. The Scott Duncan Hut is located on a bench just above a rock bluff on the northwest ridge of Mt. Daly on the south end of the Wapta Icefields. Most people make the Scott Duncan their final stopover when tackling the traverse.

Hut Facilities

Scott Duncan Hut Features

Open All Year

Features

The southern end of the Wapta

Mt. Balfour, the “King of the Wapta”, is a worthy objective in both the summer and winter. The standard route on the Southeast Ridge is best accessed from the Scott Duncan Hut. This area is not exactly renowned for rock climbing, but one route worthy of mention is the East Face of Mt. Niles. The route goes at III, 5.8 R, and is reported to be of good quality, particularly in the upper pitches.

Trail Access

Approach from the North (from Balfour hut):

This is the most common way to access the Scott Duncan Hut in both winter and summer. The terrain between these two huts is some of the most demanding and unforgiving on the icefields and it is recommended that this trip (or the reverse trip) only be undertaken in favorable conditions with stable snow and good visibility. From the Balfour Hut, ascend the Waputik Icefield in the general direction of the Balfour High Col, staying to the right of a large cliff band on the glacier.

Approach the cliff band from its left side, before turning right and ascending a ramp along its base; turn left again at its crest and head toward the Balfour High Col. The High Col can be hazardous in both summer and winter. There are crevasses on the slope heading toward the col, and danger of icefall on the right from Mt Balfour; don’t stop for lunch in this area. The route then crosses Balfour High Col, and descends in a southeasterly direction directly toward Mt Daly and the Scott Duncan Hut on its northwest shoulder.

Refer to Chic Scott’s guidebook Summits and Icefields in the Canadian Rockies and Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies, for a more detailed description of this route in the winter. From the Balfour Hut, the route ascends about 520m , and then loses about 250m in 10 kilometres travel to the Scott Duncan Hut. Six to eight hours should be sufficient for this trip in the winter In the summer expect to add a couple of hours onto the trip.

Approach from the South:

From West Louise Lodge, the route follows the trail to Sherbrooke Lake and around its east shore before following the west fork of the creek on its north side. At about grid reference 407038 the trail dies out ad the route takes to the open alpine meadows, following game trails where possible, toward the southeast ridge of Mt Niles. Follow the ridge itself until it is convenient to drop down to the snow of the Niles Glacier under the east face of Mt Niles. It is also possible to drop down to the east immediately upon arriving at the southeast ridge of Niles, to a bench approximately 200 feet lower. You can follow this bench to the slopes below the Niles Glacier if the conditions do not permit walking on the ridge. Follow the Niles Glacier northeast to the hut.

This route is also used to descend from the hut in the summer, following it in reverse. Do not attempt to descend to the north fork of Niles Creek directly (the traditional Sherbrooke Lake winter route) in the summer; once below treeline, the route becomes an overgrown tangle of avalanche debris where progress is extremely arduous.

The route ascends 1,190m from the lodge to the hut. Six or seven hours will likely be necessary for this route. There is a lot of elevation gain, and about 11km of traveling distance.

Member Rates

  • Standard $50

Non Member Rates

  • Standard $60

Features

The southern end of the Wapta

Mt. Balfour, the “King of the Wapta”, is a worthy objective in both the summer and winter. The standard route on the Southeast Ridge is best accessed from the Scott Duncan Hut. Mt. Daly is also an objective from the hut, the ascent being an easy snow climb in the winter.

Trail Access

The hut is most commonly accessed from the Balfour Hut and the rest of the Wapta to the north, but can also be approached directly from the #1 highway to the south. The elevation gain is substantial from the highway and it’s a long day.

Approach from the North (from Balfour hut):

This is the most common way to access the Scott Duncan Hut in both winter and summer. The terrain between these two huts is some of the most demanding and unforgiving on the icefields and it is recommended that this trip (or the reverse trip) only be undertaken in favorable conditions with stable snow and good visibility. From the Balfour Hut, ascend the Waputik Icefield in the general direction of the Balfour High Col, staying to the right of a large cliff band on the glacier.

Approach the cliff band from its left side, before turning right and ascending a ramp along its base; turn left again at its crest and head toward the Balfour High Col. The High Col can be hazardous in both summer and winter. There are crevasses on the slope heading toward the col, and danger of icefall on the right from Mt Balfour; don’t stop for lunch in this area. The route then crosses Balfour High Col, and descends in a southeasterly direction directly toward Mt Daly and the Scott Duncan Hut on its northwest shoulder.

Refer to Chic Scott’s guidebook Summits and Icefields in the Canadian Rockies and Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies, for a more detailed description of this route in the winter. From the Balfour Hut, the route ascends about 520m, and then loses about 250m in 10 kilometres travel to the Scott Duncan Hut. Six to eight hours should be sufficient for this trip in the winter In the summer expect to add a couple of hours onto the trip.

Approach from the South:

From West Louise Lodge, the route follows the trail to Sherbrooke Lake and around its east shore before following the west fork of the creek on its north side. At about grid reference 407038 the trail dies out ad the route takes to the open alpine meadows, following game trails where possible, toward the southeast ridge of Mt Niles. Follow the ridge itself until it is convenient to drop down to the snow of the Niles Glacier under the east face of Mt Niles. It is also possible to drop down to the east immediately upon arriving at the southeast ridge of Niles, to a bench approximately 200 feet lower. You can follow this bench to the slopes below the Niles Glacier if the conditions do not permit walking on the ridge. Follow the Niles Glacier northeast to the hut.

This route is also used to descend from the hut in the summer, following it in reverse. Do not attempt to descend to the north fork of Niles Creek directly (the traditional Sherbrooke Lake winter route) in the summer; once below treeline, the route becomes an overgrown tangle of avalanche debris where progress is extremely arduous.

The route ascends 1,190m from the lodge to the hut. Six or seven hours will likely be necessary for this route. There is a lot of elevation gain, and about 11km of traveling distance.

Member Rates

  • Standard $50

Non Member Rates

  • Standard $60

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Hut History

The Scott Duncan Hut was the final hut established on the Wapta Icefields. Although the Balfour and Bow Huts were upgraded with much needed new buildings in 1989, it was the Scott Duncan Hut, built in 1988, which completed the Wapta System, and firmly established the traverse of the Wapta/Waputik Icefields as Canada’s Haute Route.

The hut was funded largely by the Duncan family of Calgary as a memorial to their son Scott, a gifted ski mountaineer and alpinist who died in 1985. The hut was constructed by the Rocky Mountain section of the ACC and has been operated by the Club since it was built.

The hut greatly increases the safety of ski touring on the Wapta Icefield. From here, ski tourers are able to descend conveniently from the icefields to the highway in the safer hours early in the day.

Conditions May Apply

Rab Canada sponsors the ACC hut network.
We thank them for their support.

Guests who have immediate plans to travel to one of our huts in Jasper National Park please respect the wildfire closures. We will be in contact with guests affected by the closures shortly.

We are asking guests with future reservations at ACC huts in Jasper National Park to please be patient as the situation is evolving. We will update our guests on any future closures as we receive updates from the emergency response teams.

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