[Note: The route described was done on cross-country skis but can definitely be done as a day trip in snowshoes. We came across plenty of tracks made by snowshoers who were probably snowboarding on some of the open slopes towards the North and North east sides of the valley.]
In winter please check the Avaluator (Online Trip Planner) rating is: Simple. See more trip planner route details here.
Elevation Gain: ~1000 ft
On my map, the stream below Whymper mountain is unnamed. Â‘Chickadee Creek' is the name designated to the creek by people from the Chinook Outdoor Club from Lethbridge, who say that some maps refer to it as Whymper creek. Given the name Â‘Chickadee' I was expecting an easy day of skiing, so I put on my light cross-country gear and lived to regret the decision. This was a tough day of skiing (the return trip down the creek was interesting to say the least) and there were fantastic powder opportunities on the avalanche slopes towards the end of the valley for people with the appropriate gear.
[Note: Skiing or snowboarding down avalanche slopes is an inherently dangerous activity. Note that a woman died in this area in an avalanche in Febuary, 2008.]
We followed tracks made by others that went basically straight over the frozen creek. In spots there was fast moving water that made bowl-shaped holes the size of bathtubs where the flowing water prevented the water from freezing. Without climbing skins or a good wax for gripping, the ascent was a bit tricky. The elevation flattens after about an hour, and there are nice views of the valley on all sides. There are some fantastic avalanche slopes on the mountains to the east and also at the wall at the end of the basin.
There is no real destination at the end of the valley - just a wall, so return down the creek the way you came. Or rather, return down the creek as best you can (I took off my skis and walked for a bit after almost falling into one of those holes, as did most of the others in my group at one point or another). After a few minutes of walking I discovered that you could ski through the trees on the East Side of the creek. At the bottom, I discovered that a lady in my group had skied down on the West side through some alder bushes.
- Trevor Helwig, Trailpeak snowshoe editor
Access Point: The parking lot at the continental divide on the Radium Highway(the border of Kootenay and Banff national parks). Cross the highway and follow the creek up the valley. Note: there may be parallel routes on either side of the creek for the descent, (the creek is quite tricky on the way down). Note: the towns of Banff, Alberta and Radium Hot Springs are actually a lot closer than Invermere.
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