Wapta Traverse June 2018

Dragonfly on the Wapta

I know what you’re thinking — Tom, it’s summer… the Wapta traverse?

Well it was a lot more pleasant than my experience 6 months ago leaving Bow Hut in the dark at 8:00 am with -35°C temps and clouds and wind. And the snow was pretty good too — from Sunday to Tuesday it was great spring ski touring conditions.

There was very limited avalanche activity all week, with only a couple of isolated loose wet avalanches off steep E to NE aspects on Wednesday in last weekend’s storm snow, up to size 2. Temps were hot, up to 15°C at 3000 m that day, with unrelenting sun: we were comfortable in T-shirts at Scott Duncan and slept with the door wide open.

Glacier coverage is excellent with 1.5 m probed near Bow Hut and 2+ m elsewhere for the most part. Crevasses are mainly well bridged still with sags starting to show on the bigger ones (see photos).

My two clients are not skiers, so it was a Walkta, and we packed snowshoes with us to deal with the soft snow that we expected later in the trip with the hot forecast. For skiers out there this might sound like a real bummer, given the excellent skiing potential. But I have to admit that for this trip at this time of the year, the pros and cons of snowshoes start to even the scales with skis. When you don’t need them, they are light and mountain boots are way better than ski boots. Going down, of course, I wished I had skis. It was a bit surprising to me that there was not a fresh ski track to be seen — where were all you nuts who lug your skis for hours to find rocky faceted snow pockets in October? You missed a good one.

In any event, you definitely needed something to keep you on top, skis or snowshoes, past about 11 a.m. or even much earlier by the end of the trip. Not bringing either would have greatly limited your options. We were able to have long days (which started at 3:00 am or earlier and ended at 2:00 pm or later) in comfort instead of postholing to our knees.

Wednesday things started to really warm up, with a marginal overnight freeze over Balfour High Col, and for our exit yesterday (Thursday) it definitely felt like full summer weather hit the high country with almost no overnight recovery and wet snow way up into the alpine. Add to that yesterday afternoon’s thundershowers which would have been rain all the way to mountain tops.

Trail Conditions

Access to Bow Hut is on a mainly dry trail up until close to hut elevations. Egress from Scott Duncan was on snow up until the headwall directly above Sherbrooke Creek . We more or less followed the red line on Mark Klassen’s new map, which worked fine. The headwall descending into Sherbrooke Creek is steep but manageable, we kept to the skier’s right of the gullies, bumping left as we descended. This brought us to the creek confluence at valley bottom where we found a summer trail. It’s partly covered in snow and often flowing with water but OK. Thanks to the parks trail crew for their work on the trail from the north end of Sherbrooke Lake south, which is in good condition now with a couple of wet spots.

Bow Yoho Traverse April 1-7, 2019

Toe of the Des Poilus Glacier
JUST one SPOT REMAINING! BOOK NOW!
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Dates: Monday, April 1 to Sunday, April 7, 2019

Price:$1,795 CAD (Currently $1,452 USD / €1,265 / £1,113) + 5% GST

Deposit: 50% payment secures your booking. Balance of payment is due January 1, 2018. See Payment and Booking Conditions tab for details

The classic Wapta Traverse runs roughly north-south across the expanse of the Wapta and Waputik Icefields passing by four ACC huts. The east-west crossing, from Bow Lake to Takkakaw Falls and the #1 Highway near Field, BC is a classic traverse in its own right, but a much more serious one due to the 20-km crossing between the Bow and Stanley Mitchell huts. The new Louise and Richard Guy Hut at Mont des Poilus breaks up this crossing, making the trip safer and more comfortable and accessible.

The first documented crossing of the Bow-Yoho Traverse was made in summer, 1910 by the renowned Austrian guide, Conrad Kain. Kain guided the route in six days from Laggan (present day Lake Louise) with pack horses to Bow Lake and included a first ascent of Mont des Poilus on July 31, his 27th birthday. (ACC)

The Bow Yoho Traverse - a new Wapta Classic!

For decades, the Wapta Traverse has had a legendary reputation as a destination for ski mountaineering. Really, it has it all: an excellent hut system, perfect terrain for traverses, and easy access to excellent ski mountaineering objectives. The best time of the year is late March to late April when the snowpack is settled and you can still count on dry powder runs; this trip is right in that perfect window.

A near neighbour, the Bow-Yoho Traverse, crosses the Wapta at about a 90 degree angle. It is just as good, but it has only gained popularity recently, with the addition of the ACC's most deluxe hut yet: the Richard and Louise Guy Hut. Situated between Bow and Stanley Mitchell Huts it turns a daunting 12+ hr day into two short days.

This new hut also provides a staging point for objectives around the Des Poilus Glacier zone: Mt. Collie, Mt. Des Poilus, and Yoho Peak are a few of the options that previously required either very long days from huts, or a high camp. Now you’ve got the state-of-the-art Guy Hut to return to at the end of the day! We will spend our first nights at the Bow Hut, two nights at the Guy Hut, and a final two nights at Stanley Mitchell Hut.

Our traverse begins in Field, B.C. with a gourmet dinner at the famous Truffle Pigs Bistro, as well as a hotel stay - both included in the trip price! I've found that this is a great way to set the tone for my Wapta trips and a great chance to mingle with the group before the tour begins.

This itinerary is longer than some other Bow-Yoho trips offered, giving us more time to explore the incredible ski mountaineering available instead of putting our heads down and charging through the traverse.

A printable version of this information package can be found here.

Logistics

We will meet for dinner at the Truffle Pigs Cafe in Field at 6:00 pm. After dinner we'll have a look through your equipment to make sure everything is in order as well as distribute group equipment.

Please be on time: However, if for some unforeseen reason you cannot make it, please give me a call or text ASAP, Tom Wolfe at 403-707-9996.

I look forward to spending the week together with you and exploring the amazing ski terrain that the Bow Yoho Traverse has to offer!

Difficulty

Difficulty

  • Hut to hut traverse, carrying heavy packs (up to 20 kg / 45 lb)
  • Hut elevations are approximately 2200 m with 700 m vertical and covering 10-15 km/day on average (5 to 7 hrs travel).
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Powder skiing and ski mountaineering

Equipment List

Packing Notes:

You need to bring all of the following personal equipment. Please don’t bring extra equipment. If you have any questions at all about gear please do not hesitate to contact us.

Ski crampons are a must for spring ski touring, and they can make a big difference even on a powder skiing week at times. If you have any difficulty obtaining these please let me know. We have some spares and can likely set you up with a pair. If you have telemark bindings, G3 crampons have an attachment system that works well for most tele bindings.

Bow Yoho Equipment List

Ski mountaineering gear

  • Skis, preferably with tech-style Alpine Touring (AT) bindings, 150-185 cm in length, wide (100 mm+ at waist) for powder skiing. Telemark, frame-style AT bindings, or splitboards are acceptable as well, please contact us if you plan to bring one or these alternate touring systems.
  • Ski crampons
  • Climbing skins
  • Ski Poles with powder baskets
  • Ski Boots
  • Climbing harness (light weight if possible)
  • Locking carabiners (2), non-locking biners (2)
  • Prusik cord (1)
  • 120 cm sewn sling (1)
  • Avalanche Transceiver – a modern digital unit
  • Collapsible Avalanche Probe
  • Avalanche Shovel (lightweight snow shovel designed for companion rescue)
  • Backpack (at least 65 L, large enough for sleeping bag, spare clothes, and your share of group food & equipment) rentals available

Other gear

  • Sunglasses and ski goggles
  • Water bottle (at least 1 liter capacity)
  • Thermos for Hot Drinks (optional but recommended,~750 mL)
  • Sun block
  • Lip cream
  • Pocket knife and/or leatherman multi-tool
  • Sleeping Bag. We recommend a three season bag rated between -7 to -9°C. Bring a compression stuff sac so you have room in your pack for other things.
  • Headlamp with fresh batteries
  • Small Blister and personal First-Aid Kit
  • Camera
  • Personal Toilet Items (keep to a bare minimum)
  • Toilet paper
  • Large stuff sack for carrying food
  • Ear Plugs for dorm sleeping (optional but recommended)
  • Insulated Booties or Sandals

Clothing

  • Long wool or synthetic (e.g. polyester or polypropylene) underwear (top & bottom)
  • Extra warm shirt (not cotton)
  • Medium weight fleece sweater
  • Soft shell or fleece jacket
  • Soft shell pants
  • Insulated jacket (down preferred)
  • Insulated pants (fleece or other synthetic) (optional)
  • Waterproof jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or equivalent)
  • Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex or equivalent, with side zippers)
  • Socks (wool or synthetic) – 2 to 3 pairs
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Waterproof ski mountaineering gloves or mitts
  • Light weight ski gloves
  • Neck tube or balaclava
  • Sun hat

Your guide will bring all of the necessary group gear. If you are in need of loaner/rental gear please arrange with us ahead of time to provide it for you. We have most of what you might possibly need available either at an inexpensive rental rate or free of charge depending on the item.

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Booking & Payment

Book Now to hold your spot!

The Book Now form takes about 60 seconds to complete. We will hold your spot until we contact you to answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. Then we’ll get you to complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms before paying your deposit.

Before signing through these documents read through them carefully and make sure you are comfortable with what you’re signing up for, and have a look through the booking “fine print” below. If you have any questions at any time do not hesitate to contact us.

Payment and booking conditions fine print

A deposit (typically 50%; see the trip description for the exact amount) to secure your place is  due upon booking. Final payment of balance is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless specified otherwise on the trip information page and/or your invoice. You will be invoiced for your payments after you have confirmed your interest in the trip. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments (the remainder) are non-refundable after the final payment date.

Credit Card payments are encouraged, especially if you have a card with trip cancellation insurance! Charges are made in CAD (foreign payments are converted to your local currency at your card company’s rate). We charge an additional 3.5% fee for card transactions. If your credit card provides you with cancellation insurance for this trip indicate this on your registration form and we will lower the convenience fee to 2%.  Cancelled trips that have cancellation insurance are much less of a headache for everyone. Please consider this option. It could be a very affordable way to protect yourself. But look carefully into your credit card’s fine print to make sure this trip is covered.

Non Credit Card Payments from Canadian clients: If you do not wish to pay by credit card we ask that you pay by E-transfer, sent to twolfe@sawback.com. There is no additional fee for Canadian E-transfers.

Non Credit Card Payments from outside Canada (US, Europe, other countries):

  1. Third party electronic transfer: You will need to fill out an agreement with our currency broker, Ken Fukami from Payline in Canmore, that includes your banking information to coordinate an electronic transfer (SEPA, EFT, etc.) There is no charge for this service and it is $50-100 cheaper than all other methods of payment from foreign clients. Contact us, or visit Payline’s website for details.
  2. PayPal: send money via PayPal to twolfe@sawback.com. There is a 4% charge to receive PayPal payments unless you send funds using the “P2P” a.k.a. “Friends and Family” method, which may cost the sender a small fee but does not cost us anything on our end, so no fee.
  3. Wire draft (bank to bank): Your bank wires our bank the money in CAD. We charge a $20 CAD fee for receiving these payments.
  4. Cheque: in either CAD or in your local currency (e.g. EUR, GBP, USD) at the rate listed on the trip information page on our website on the date of your booking.

Mailing address: Please send cheques in CAD to Thomas Wolfe, 234 Grizzly Cr, Canmore, AB T1W1B5, Canada

All fees paid are 100% non-refundable. We cannot be held liable for cancellations of any kind. Therefore we strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation and evacuation insurance to protect you in the event that you need to cancel or there is an emergency during your trip. The Alpine Club of Canada and Lifetstyle Financial (BCLBC Plan) both offer plans for trips like this that might interest you although we can’t personally vouch for them. Note that many credit cards carry this insurance for trips paid with the credit card — contact your credit card company to be sure.

Many of our trips are in remote locations. If you are injured or develop an emergency medical condition that requires evacuation, significant costs may be involved. We cannot be liable for the costs of emergency evacuation and so you are therefore encouraged to sign up for third party rescue insurance. The most robust plan we know if is through Global Rescue Services which services all areas we run trips to including Svalbard. You may choose to go with another but be warned that there are often exclusions that will render your insurance worthless when you need it. Global Rescue membership is $119 USD for a one-week trip — and it will cover you.

You must sign our Waiver of Liability in order to register for participation in our trips. You can view a printable copy the waiver here: English Waiver and translated into several other languages (German, French and Japanese) here: Translated Waivers.  If you have any questions about the waiver please talk to your lawyer and/or let me know prior to registration so I can help you.

The application form collects personal information which I use to make sure that I provide you with the best possible trip experience. If you do not want to answer any of the questions or you are unsure about anything leave it blank and/or contact me for clarification.

READ CAREFULLY – BOOKING, RESERVATION, DEPOSIT: A deposit of 50% of the total price or private guiding fee is due with your booking unless otherwise indicated. Please provide us with your credit card details, do a bank transfer (account information on demand), send an E-transfer to twolfe@sawback.com or mail me a personal cheque payable to Thomas Wolfe. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. If you wish to pay in a currency other than what our trips are quoted in, please inquire with us for a quote in your preferred denomination. Euro payments are only accepted by bank transfers in Euro denomination. We also accept bookings from minors; however we do require the signature of BOTH parents or ALL legal guardians on both, reservation form and liability waiver. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of the booking form with your check or credit card details we confirm your booking. Each Backountry Ski Trip we offer has a detailed Information Package (available on our website) with the trip details, equipment list, proposed itinerary and logistics, etc. Read through this carefully before completing your registration. TRIP (CANCELLATION / MEDICAL / EVACUATION / THEFT) INSURANCE: Once we confirm your booking, we enter into financial obligations on our side and we cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, we highly recommend buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”. Also, all participants need to have internationally accepted health insurance for all activities pertaining to the trip, including coverage for emergency rescue and evacuation. If you already have insurance, please make sure that you will be covered for “roped travel” booking a technical trip including “Via Ferrata” trips. We gladly refer you to a travel insurance provider who offers “adventure travel insurance packages” and with whom our clients have had positive claims experiences in the past. Generally, you will receive the best benefits if you buy your insurance within 10 days of our booking confirmation. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). Please see the trip information package for details on your trip’s Cancellation Policy. If the vacant spot can be filled due to efforts by our office, we retain an administration fee of 15% of your total trip price. CANCELLED PROGRAMS: Once we confirm your booking, we guarantee your trip departure. However, we do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force us to do so or should the physical condition of the participants (see below), weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. PERSONAL FITNESS and GROUP TRAVEL: Our programs rely heavily on the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the necessary skill and fitness level for a particular trip. When in doubt, please call and discuss this with us! For the protection of yourself and other group members, we reserve the right to deny participation to any unprepared participant at any time of the trip, in which case we cannot offer a refund! In order to accommodate diverse levels of ability and ambition as well as diverse personalities, the decision making of the guide has to be geared towards safety and finding a consensus within the whole group, which may not please each individual participant at all times.

Snow & Climate

Snowpack and Climate

April is the best month to do the Rockies hut traverses. Early April is likely to be a bit cooler and have powder skiing even on the solar aspects. The Rockies has a thinner snowpack than the Selkirks or Coast mountains, but by April the snowpack tends to be robust and the crevasses well covered. Expect temperatures in the -10C to 0C range, but be prepared for lows as cold as -20C or highs up to +5C!

Itinerary

Itinerary

Day 1: Monday, April 1 - Truffle Pigs Bistro & Lodge, Field, BC

6:00 pm -- Introductions over dinner in Field, BC at the “Truffle Pigs Bistro” (dinner is included in your trip fees). In case you haven’t heard of it -- this is one of the finest restaurants in the Canadian Rockies! After dinner it’s back to your rooms where your guide will pay you a brief visit for an equipment check and distribution of group gear and food.

Day 2: Tuesday, April 2 - Bow Hut

8:00 am -- a leisurely breakfast, again at the Truffle Pigs cafe. Bagged lunches will be provided by Kicking Horse Lodge. Make sure your backpacks and ski gear are packed and ready to go.

9:00 am -- depart for the trailhead at Bow Lake (Num-ti-jah Lodge parking lot)

The ski from Bow Lake to Bow Hut takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours depending on conditions and group speed. There should be time left at the end of a day for a quick lap on the awesome slopes above Bow Hut at the end of the day.

Day 3: Wednesday, April 3 - Guy Hut

Traverse day. We’ll set our course west for the Guy Hut, traversing over the Gordon-Rhondda pass, over the Yoho Glacier’s gnarly icefall, below the spectacular Mt. Collie, and a short distance down to our hut below Yoho Peak.

Day 4: Thursday, April 4 - Guy Hut

Peak bagging day. The Guy Hut is not only the premiere hut on the Wapta, it’s also an excellent staging point for many of the great ski runs in the area including Yoho Peak N and SE faces, Des Poilus SE face, the subpeak to the north of Des Poilus, Mt. Collie, to name the plums of the area!

Day 5: Friday, April 5 - Stanley Mitchell Hut

There are two ways to get to Stanley Mitchell Hut, both pretty darned exciting. The first, over Isolated Col, is steep and relentlessly exposed to avalanche hazard on both the north and south sides. The second is over the Whaleback, which has less avalanche hazard and which in the right conditions offers a good ski descent through a lightly treed avalanche path to the valley bottom and then a trudge up-valley to the famous and ancient Stanley Mitchell Hut. In the winter of 2018 -- all three times! -- avalanche hazard was low, so we dropped our loads at the top of Isolated col for a hot lap on the outstanding 300 m north facing side (back towards Des Poilus) for an outstanding powder run, and completed the day in style with a long descent down the south side. This old log structure has been shelter to thousands of skiers since the early days of mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies.

Day 6: Saturday, April 6 - Stanley Mitchell Hut

If you’re in the Little Yoho Valley with the wood stove crackling then you will definitely want to stay for at least one more night…. So that’s our plan. Our last full day of adventure offers opportunities at bagging the Presidents, Mount MacArthur, Isolated Peak, Mt. Kerr, or doing some cool loop trips or storm skiing on the Vice President trees or glacier.

Day 7: Sunday, April 7 - Trip conclusion

The ski out from Stanley Mitchell Hut is best if you can head up over the Iceline trail and out via Yoho Pass and Emerald Lake Lodge. This requires good stability and cool conditions, so we might have to slog out via Takakkaw Falls road. Either way, we will aim to be back in Field by 2 pm at the latest. This is the end of the trip. You have the option of kicking back by the shores of the Kicking Horse for another night (extra charge applies) or jetting back home.

Staff

Staff

Tom Wolfe (Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA) has been guiding since moving to Canmore in 1995, the place he calls home with wife, son and daughter. He guides year around, with winters being a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations throughout western Canada. He has been involved with the Alpine Club of Canada for over 20 years including running the summer Mountain Mentorship Program for the Toronto Section, and winter ski trips for the Vancouver Section. He has been invited as a speaker at the Vancouver Section’s November 27, 2019 -- your chance to meet him in person! Email: twolfe@sawback.com, Cell: (403) 707-9996

Selkirk Lodge Jan 5-12, 2019

Selkirk Lodge
This trip is fully booked. Contact us to put your name on the waiting list.
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The best in Selkirk Powder Skiing!

Join us for a week of guided and catered skiing out of Selkirk Lodge. We will meet early in Revelstoke, BC, on Saturday January 5th, helicopter into the lodge and fly back out the following Saturday, January 12th, 2019. During our stay we will have two ACMG certified Mountain Guides leading the groups on day trips from the hut each day. Each evening we will return to the very comfortable lodge to relax, hang out with friends and enjoy delicious meals prepared by the cook.
Dates: Saturday, Jan 5 to Saturday, Jan 12, 2019

Price: $2,500 CAD/person (Currently $2,025 USD / €1,762 / £1,551) + 5% GST

Deposit: 50% payment secures your booking. Balance of payment is due 15 September, 2018. See Payment and Booking Conditions tab for details

Beautiful, newly renovated lodge

The cozy, comfortable lodge accommodates up to 14 skiers. It is light and bright, with spectacular views in every direction. The lodge is equipped with shower, indoor plumbing and 12 V solar power with a backup generator.

Famous for its champagne powder and terrain

Selkirk Lodge provides exceptional access to an endless variety of tree skiing and big glacier runs providing excellent backcountry skiing and snowboarding options. Sitting at 2,165 metres (7,100 ft) on a small sub-alpine knoll, Selkirk Lodge enjoys grand views of high summits, nearby ice fields and the deep wild valleys of the Albert Range of B.C.’s Selkirk Mountains. There is an elevation band of over 1,525 vertical meters (5,000 ft) of skiable terrain. There are also numerous runs with vertical drops of over 900 m (3,000 ft) or more, with several over 1,375 m (4,500 ft), all easily accessible from the lodge. Sunny days will find you high up on the glaciers and in the alpine, laying tracks in Selkirk champagne powder. 

The mild winter temperatures and abundant snowfall contribute to a generally stable snow pack, averaging 2.5m in early January and over 5m in April. It snows a lot! Yet the snowy weather is no problem, with over 600 m (2,000 ft) of tree skiing right outside the door. Face shots, anyone?

A printable version of this information package can be found here.

Logistics

We will meet in Revelstoke early on the morning of Saturday, January 5th, 2019. Final details on meeting time and place will be sent closer to the trip. From here we will drive West of Revelstoke for about 30 min to the staging area near Albert Canyon where we will fly into the lodge.

Please be on time: However, if for some unforeseen reason you cannot make it, please give us a call ASAP to help arrange alternate transport to the lodge. Call Tom Wolfe at 403-707-9996; Conrad Janzen at 403-760-0887; and/or email selkirklodge@xplornet.com

How to get to Revelstoke

Revelstoke Mountain Resort has put together a web page on How to get to Revelstoke by Air that is very useful.

We recommend you fly into Kelowna airport, which is 2.5 hrs in good weather by road from Revelstoke. From there, you have a few options:

  1. Scheduled airport transfers. Visit Revelstoke Airport Transfers for a comprehensive guide to your options.
  2. Rent a car at the airport which of course is very convenient. Renting for the week is recommended over one-way drop-offs, and carpooling with other people in the group helps share the cost of the week-long rental.
  3. Another option, if your group can coordinate together, is to arrange a private airport transfer. Visit Revelstoke Airport Transfers  for options and contact details. From Kelowna, this costs about $550 USD each way for a max of 20 persons, so that comes to about $1100 USD or $80 USD per person for the round trip.

There are also direct flights from Vancouver to Revelstoke. I can’t recommend this though because the airport in Revelstoke is not reliable in bad weather and it really is not worth the risk of being delayed and missing your heli flight into the lodge.

We look forward to spending the week together with you and exploring the amazing ski terrain that Selkirk Lodge has to offer!

Difficulty


Difficulty

  • Day trips, hut-based
  • Hut elevation 2200 m with 1600-1800 m/day on average (Strong experienced group)
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Powder skiing and ski mountaineering

Equipment List


Packing Notes:

A gear list for the week is attached below. Despite being a mid winter trip you should bring ski crampons. They can make a big difference even on a powder skiing week at times. If you have any difficulty obtaining these please let me know. I have some spares and can likely set you up with a pair. You will need a climbing harness with several locking carabiners. Please ensure that it fits comfortably over your ski clothes. A light weight ice axe may be useful for some of the lines in the area, especially late season (late March-April-May) but if you don’t have one or aren’t interested in that kind of skiing then don’t worry about bringing one. We have extras at the lodge in any case.

The lodge is equipped with 110 VAC power and does have limited Wi-Fi internet access. It has a great ski repair area and several sets of high quality skis if you would like to try something different during the week. It also has a wonderful sauna for the end of the day, and beer and wine are available to purchase at the lodge

Selkirk Lodge – Ski Touring – Equipment List

Clothing

  • Wool or synthetic ski socks and liner socks
  • Long underwear top – synthetic or wool
  • Light fleece or wool sweater
  • Wind shell – nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type jacket
  • Waterproof breathable jacket (i.e. Gore-Tex)
  • Warm insulated jacket – down or synthetic
  • Long underwear bottoms – synthetic or wool
  • Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants
  • Waterproof breathable pants (i.e. Gore-Tex)
  • Warm hat – wool or synthetic
  • Brimmed cap for sun protection
  • Face warmer – scarf, neck tube or balaclava (optional)
  • Light gloves – wool, synthetic or leather
  • Insulated gloves or mitts with waterproof outer shell
  • Spare gloves or mitts
  • Handkerchief for blocking the sun (optional)

Snow Safety Equipment

  • Digital avalanche beacon with good batteries (and spares)
  • Shovel
  • Probe (2.4m or longer preferred)

Travel Equipment

  • Skis or split board
  • Ski strap
  • Ski or snowboard boots
  • Poles
  • Climbing skins
  • Skin wax (or a candle)
  • Any binding repair items to fix your specific travel setup
  • Ski helmet (optional)

Glacier gear

  • Harness – fitted for over your ski clothing
    • Cilao, BD, Petzl and Camp make some good lightweight ski touring harnesses
  • Locking carabiners (x2)
  • Non locking carabiners (x2)
  • 6mm by 5m prussik cord (optional)
  • 120cm sewn climbing sling (optional)

Personal Equipment

  • Ski pack (30-40 litres)
  • Reusable lunch containers (for sandwiches, etc.)
  • Sunglasses (having both orange and dark lenses helps for travel in all conditions)
  • Goggles (orange lenses)
  • Sunscreen and lip cream (SPF 30+)
  • Head lamp with good batteries
  • Insulated water bottle or thermos (1-2 L)
    • if you bring a hydration system bring a regular water      bottle as a spare)
  • Lunch bag or container
  • Personal blister kit (i.e: Leukotape-P and Bandaid or Second Skin blister pads)
  • Pocket knife (optional)
  • Camera (optional)

Hut Gear

  • 30-40 L small duffle bag for flying into the lodge
  • Shoes for inside the hut
  • Winter boots for travel around outside of the hut
  • Hut clothing
  • Towel for the shower
  • Personal medications and toiletries
  • Ear plugs
  • Reading material
  • Chargers for electronic devices (normal AC power is available for charging devices).

Misc

  • Personal beer, wine, or liquor – please bring cans instead of bottles if possible and pack this separately from your duffle in a small box or bag

Please Note:

  • All bedding, pillows and duvets are supplied by the lodge

Group Gear (supplied by the guides)

  • Altimeter
  • Map and compass
  • GPS
  • Snow study kit
  • Snow and/or bush saw
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency tarp
  • Emergency toboggan
  • Group repair kit
  • Radio & satellite phone or inReach device
  • Ropes for glacier travel
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Booking & Payment

Book Now to hold your spot!

The Book Now form takes about 60 seconds to complete. We will hold your spot until we contact you to answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. Then we’ll get you to complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms before paying your deposit.

Before signing through these documents read through them carefully and make sure you are comfortable with what you’re signing up for, and have a look through the booking “fine print” below. If you have any questions at any time do not hesitate to contact us.

Payment and booking conditions fine print

A deposit (typically 50%; see the trip description for the exact amount) to secure your place is  due upon booking. Final payment of balance is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless specified otherwise on the trip information page and/or your invoice. You will be invoiced for your payments after you have confirmed your interest in the trip. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments (the remainder) are non-refundable after the final payment date.

Credit Card payments are encouraged, especially if you have a card with trip cancellation insurance! Charges are made in CAD (foreign payments are converted to your local currency at your card company’s rate). We charge an additional 3.5% fee for card transactions. If your credit card provides you with cancellation insurance for this trip indicate this on your registration form and we will lower the convenience fee to 2%.  Cancelled trips that have cancellation insurance are much less of a headache for everyone. Please consider this option. It could be a very affordable way to protect yourself. But look carefully into your credit card’s fine print to make sure this trip is covered.

Non Credit Card Payments from Canadian clients: If you do not wish to pay by credit card we ask that you pay by E-transfer, sent to twolfe@sawback.com. There is no additional fee for Canadian E-transfers.

Non Credit Card Payments from outside Canada (US, Europe, other countries):

  1. Third party electronic transfer: You will need to fill out an agreement with our currency broker, Ken Fukami from Payline in Canmore, that includes your banking information to coordinate an electronic transfer (SEPA, EFT, etc.) There is no charge for this service and it is $50-100 cheaper than all other methods of payment from foreign clients. Contact us, or visit Payline’s website for details.
  2. PayPal: send money via PayPal to twolfe@sawback.com. There is a 4% charge to receive PayPal payments unless you send funds using the “P2P” a.k.a. “Friends and Family” method, which may cost the sender a small fee but does not cost us anything on our end, so no fee.
  3. Wire draft (bank to bank): Your bank wires our bank the money in CAD. We charge a $20 CAD fee for receiving these payments.
  4. Cheque: in either CAD or in your local currency (e.g. EUR, GBP, USD) at the rate listed on the trip information page on our website on the date of your booking.

Mailing address: Please send cheques in CAD to Thomas Wolfe, 234 Grizzly Cr, Canmore, AB T1W1B5, Canada

All fees paid are 100% non-refundable. We cannot be held liable for cancellations of any kind. Therefore we strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation and evacuation insurance to protect you in the event that you need to cancel or there is an emergency during your trip. The Alpine Club of Canada and Lifetstyle Financial (BCLBC Plan) both offer plans for trips like this that might interest you although we can’t personally vouch for them. Note that many credit cards carry this insurance for trips paid with the credit card — contact your credit card company to be sure.

Many of our trips are in remote locations. If you are injured or develop an emergency medical condition that requires evacuation, significant costs may be involved. We cannot be liable for the costs of emergency evacuation and so you are therefore encouraged to sign up for third party rescue insurance. The most robust plan we know if is through Global Rescue Services which services all areas we run trips to including Svalbard. You may choose to go with another but be warned that there are often exclusions that will render your insurance worthless when you need it. Global Rescue membership is $119 USD for a one-week trip — and it will cover you.

You must sign our Waiver of Liability in order to register for participation in our trips. You can view a printable copy the waiver here: English Waiver and translated into several other languages (German, French and Japanese) here: Translated Waivers.  If you have any questions about the waiver please talk to your lawyer and/or let me know prior to registration so I can help you.

The application form collects personal information which I use to make sure that I provide you with the best possible trip experience. If you do not want to answer any of the questions or you are unsure about anything leave it blank and/or contact me for clarification.

READ CAREFULLY – BOOKING, RESERVATION, DEPOSIT: A deposit of 50% of the total price or private guiding fee is due with your booking unless otherwise indicated. Please provide us with your credit card details, do a bank transfer (account information on demand), send an E-transfer to twolfe@sawback.com or mail me a personal cheque payable to Thomas Wolfe. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. If you wish to pay in a currency other than what our trips are quoted in, please inquire with us for a quote in your preferred denomination. Euro payments are only accepted by bank transfers in Euro denomination. We also accept bookings from minors; however we do require the signature of BOTH parents or ALL legal guardians on both, reservation form and liability waiver. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of the booking form with your check or credit card details we confirm your booking. Each Backountry Ski Trip we offer has a detailed Information Package (available on our website) with the trip details, equipment list, proposed itinerary and logistics, etc. Read through this carefully before completing your registration. TRIP (CANCELLATION / MEDICAL / EVACUATION / THEFT) INSURANCE: Once we confirm your booking, we enter into financial obligations on our side and we cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, we highly recommend buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”. Also, all participants need to have internationally accepted health insurance for all activities pertaining to the trip, including coverage for emergency rescue and evacuation. If you already have insurance, please make sure that you will be covered for “roped travel” booking a technical trip including “Via Ferrata” trips. We gladly refer you to a travel insurance provider who offers “adventure travel insurance packages” and with whom our clients have had positive claims experiences in the past. Generally, you will receive the best benefits if you buy your insurance within 10 days of our booking confirmation. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). Please see the trip information package for details on your trip’s Cancellation Policy. If the vacant spot can be filled due to efforts by our office, we retain an administration fee of 15% of your total trip price. CANCELLED PROGRAMS: Once we confirm your booking, we guarantee your trip departure. However, we do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force us to do so or should the physical condition of the participants (see below), weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. PERSONAL FITNESS and GROUP TRAVEL: Our programs rely heavily on the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the necessary skill and fitness level for a particular trip. When in doubt, please call and discuss this with us! For the protection of yourself and other group members, we reserve the right to deny participation to any unprepared participant at any time of the trip, in which case we cannot offer a refund! In order to accommodate diverse levels of ability and ambition as well as diverse personalities, the decision making of the guide has to be geared towards safety and finding a consensus within the whole group, which may not please each individual participant at all times.

Snow & Climate

Snowpack and Climate

Selkirk Lodge is on the west side of the Columbia Mountains and as such gets a LOT of snow. Snowpack depths on the glaciers in January measure 3+ m. In early January the snow is especially likely to be cold, low density, excellent powder. Temperatures will be cooler, but again this is on the west side of the range where temperatures are on average warmer than further east.

Other Info

Workshop: There are tools available at the lodge for any necessary equipment repairs.

Power: We have power at the lodge so you can bring the chargers for your, radios, cameras and headlamps, etc. We have a generator which we will run as necessary and solar panels to provide power when possible. In the name of conservation we try to organize as much charging as possible at one time. Bring a quick charger for batteries if possible.

Wi-fi: There is limited Internet access but we encourage guests to leave their computers at home. All “smart” devices should be set to Airplane mode (it saves batteries) and Wifi should be OFF while not in use.  All push notifications and auto-cloud-anythings need to be disabled. Selkirk Lodge has slow satellite and a limited download allowance. Lodge and guide business takes priority.

Location: National Topographic System (NTS) Mapsheet is: Illecillewaet 82N4 (1:50,000 scale). Selkirk Lodge is located at 51° 02’ 40.56” N, 117° 43’ 36.23”W

Staff

Photos of the guides can be found on our Guides and Partners page.

Tom Wolfe (Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA) has been guiding since moving to Canmore in 1995, the place he calls home with wife, son and daughter. He guides year around, with winters being a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations throughout western Canada.

Conrad Janzen (Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA) has been guiding mountain adventures throughout the mountains of Western Canada since 1998 and lives in Harvie Heights with his wife. He currently splits his time between mountain guiding and working for Parks Canada on the Visitor Safety team based out of Lake Louise.

Finally, your week at Selkirk Lodge includes an in-house chef who will prepare superb meals. Guests are consistently amazed by the beautiful, tasty, and abundant food. We are happy to accommodate any special diets as needed (an additional fee of $75 Cnd applies and please provide us with as many specifics as possible about your needs).

Our goal is to provide you with the best skiing possible from the comfort and ease of a fully catered backcountry chalet.

Burnie Glacier Chalet March 22-29, 2019

Rectory Couloir
Three spots remaining! Book now!

Polemic Peak
Middle Solitaire
Middle Solitaire
Standing atop Middle Solitaire
Standing atop Middle Solitaire
Rectory Couloir
Rectory Couloir
Skiing down the Burnie Glacier
Below Rectory Couloir
Rectory Couloir
Burnie Glacier Chalet
Polemic Glacier
Heading up to the Burnie Step
Heading up to the Burnie Step
Heading up to the Burnie Step
Gaining the Upper Burnie Glacier
Loft trees
Standing on top of Loft Peak
Traverse Peak
Traverse Peak
Telkwa Gl
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
All stones col
All stones col
Burnie Glacier
Looking back at the Chalet
Upper Ptarmigan
Upper Ptarmigan
Upper Ptarmigan
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Dates: Friday, March 22 to Friday, March 29 2019

Price: $2,500 CAD/person (Currently $2,025 USD / €1,762 / £1,551) + 5% GST

Deposit: 50% payment secures your booking. Balance of payment is due 9 November 2018. See Payment and Booking Conditions tab for details.

Difficulty

  • Day trips, hut-based
  • Hut elevation 1030 m with 1500-1800 m/day on average (Experienced group)
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Powder skiing and ski mountaineering

Videos of Burnie!

Click on the tabs to view each one. I have to point out that Burnie does have running water, despite the bucket carrying scene in the first video...

360 degrees of Burnie


Use the controller in the top left to look around as this video plays.

Burnie Glacier 2015 Promo Video


I'm not a big fan of drones but I have to admit I like this video.

The best kept secret in BC ski lodges

Burnie Glacier Chalet is located near Smithers in northern British Columbia. It has spectacular, rugged alpine terrain with beautiful ski runs that range in nature from gentle glacier runs that can be done in most conditions to steep tree runs for high hazard days, to incredible ski mountaineering trips high into the alpine.

The Chalet is a simple but beautiful timber frame building, warmed by a beautiful wood burning kitchen stove with spectacular views of the towering Hut Peak, Burnie Glacier, Solitaire Ski Peaks and Lakehead Peak. It was built by Christoph Dietzfelbinger and a team of friends in the early 2000s. There are four bedrooms, each sleeping from 2 to 4 guests and including two double beds if there are any couples in the group. Pillows, sheets, and duvets are provided. You are encouraged to bring a couple of your own towels (one for using in the sauna, the other for drying off after your shower), although towels are available at the lodge in case you forget.

Burnie Glacier Chalet is perfectly situated for ski touring below the Burnie and Solitaire Glaciers and offers quick access to 700 m tree runs and 1400 m glacier runs that rise directly from the Chalet. In fact most of the runs ski right back to the Chalet with no uphill travel at the end of the day!

Logistics

Getting to Smithers

Simplest and easiest way to get to Burnie is to fly in and out of Smithers, BC. I recommend getting there the day before to allow time for your baggage to catch up to you in case it gets bumped. It’s tempting to try to arrive on the 9:30 am Friday flight, stroll across the tarmac and get into the helicopter to Burnie at 10:30 am, but it’s very risky!

The airlines that service Smithers are Air Canada (Jazz) and Central Mountain Air. If you are flying out of Vancouver you might find that CMA offers the best rates and availability. You might also find you can get cheap points tickets to Vancouver, and then add a CMA flight for your last leg. For some reason flights to Smithers have just been getting more and more expensive over the years.

You can also consider flying in and out of Terrace, BC which is a 2.5 hour drive from Smithers. Tickets to Terrace are often hundreds of dollars cheaper than to Smithers. You would need to rent a car, either as a one-way drop off twice or for the whole week — the costs work out to be about the same either way.

If you choose to drive to Smithers from your home be aware that it’s a long, lonely 2-lane highway and while it’s well maintained for a northern BC road it’s quite a long haul and in a winter storm your pace could slow to a crawl. So check the weather and give yourself enough time.

Free Burnie Airport Shuttle Service

We provide a free shuttle service between the airport and hotel before the trip (Thursday evening and Friday morning) as well as after the trip (Friday afternoon). Please let us know if you would like to take advantage of this service well in advance.

Pre-post trip accommodation
I recommend you stay the night at the Stork Nest Inn Thursday night. The Stork Nest includes an excellent breakfast the next morning and also provides free storage area for any luggage, ski bags, etc. you want to leave in town.

Helicopter Logistics

We are scheduled to meet at the Silver King hangar (next to the airport, tel: 250-877-1989) in Smithers, BC at 10:30 am on Friday to fly into the Burnie Glacier. If this changes I will let you know as soon as possible. If you plan to stay at the Stork Nest Inn in Smithers we will send a taxi to pick you up at about 10:00 am. If you have made arrangements to stay elsewhere please let me know so that we can arrange to have you picked up at the correct time. We plan to be back in Smithers by 17:00 on the following Friday at the very latest but usually as early as 14:00. If you choose to book a flight out of Smithers earlier than 18:00 (Central Mountain Air offers a flight out of Smithers at 14:30) check with me first, and be sure to get the appropriate insurance to cover you in case of weather delays out of Burnie.

Please do not transport your skis/poles in ski bags. Leave your ski bags at the Stork’s nest. The helicopters have limited space and ski bags take up too much room. Don’t worry, we’ll be gentle loading them!

Difficulty


Difficulty

  • Day trips, hut-based
  • Hut elevation 1030 m
  • Normal Pace: experienced group, 1500-1800 m/day climbing
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Steep treed skiing
  • Powder skiing and ski mountaineering

Equipment List

Packing Notes:

A gear list for the week is attached below. Despite being a mid winter trip you should bring ski crampons. They can make a big difference even on a powder skiing week at times. If you have any difficulty obtaining these please let me know. I have some spares and can likely set you up with a pair. You will need a climbing harness with several locking carabiners. Please ensure that it fits comfortably over your ski clothes. A light weight ice axe may be useful for some of the lines in the area, especially late season (late March-April-May) but if you don’t have one or aren’t interested in that kind of skiing then don’t worry about bringing one. We have extras at the lodge in any case.

The lodge is equipped with 110 VAC power and does have limited Wi-Fi internet access. It has a great ski repair area and several sets of high quality skis if you would like to try something different during the week. It also has a wonderful sauna for the end of the day, and beer and wine are available to purchase at the lodge

Burnie Glacier Chalet Equipment List

Clothing

  • Wool or synthetic socks and liner socks
  • Long underwear top – synthetic or wool
  • Light fleece or wool sweater
  • Wind shell – nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type jacket
  • Waterproof breathable jacket
  • Warm insulated jacket – down or synthetic
  • Long underwear bottoms – synthetic or wool
  • Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants
  • Waterproof breathable pants
  • Warm hat – wool or synthetic
  • Brimmed cap for sun protection
  • Face warmer – scarf, neck tube or balaclava (optional)
  • Light gloves – wool, synthetic or leather
  • Insulated gloves or mitts with waterproof outer shell
  • Spare gloves or mitts
  • Handkerchief for blocking the sun (optional)
  • Snow Safety Equipment
  • Avalanche beacon with good batteries (and spares)
  • Shovel
  • Probe (2.4m or longer preferred)

Travel Equipment

  • Skis or split board
  • Ski strap
  • Ski or snowboard boots
  • Poles
  • Climbing skins
  • Skin wax (or a candle)
  • Ski crampons (mandatory)
  • Binding repair kit to fix your personal travel setup
  • Ski helmet (optional)

Personal Equipment

  • Pack (30-40 litres)
  • Sunglasses (both orange and dark lenses help a lot for travel in all conditions)
  • Goggles (orange lenses)
  • Sunscreen and lip cream (SPF 30+)
  • Head lamp with good batteries
  • Insulated water bottle or thermos (1-2 L)
  • Lunch bag or container
  • Personal blister kit (i.e: Leukotape-P and Compeed/Second Skin blister pads)
  • Pocket knife (optional)
  • Camera (optional)

Glacier Gear

  • Harness – fitted for over your ski clothing
  • Locking carabiners (x2)
  • Non-locking carabiners (x2)
  • Prussik cord – 5m x 6mm (optional)
  • Sewn sling – 120cm (optional)
  • Lightweight ice axe (optional, don’t bring if you don’t have one or don’t like steep skiing)

Hut Gear

  • Duffle bag for flying into the lodge
  • Shoes or sandals
  • Winter boots for travel to the outhouse (boots at the hut for you to use as well
  • f you prefer)
  • Hut clothing
  • 1-2 Towels and swimsuit for sauna
  • Personal medications and toiletries
  • Ear plugs
  • Reading material
  • Chargers for electronic devices (normal AC power is available via micro-hydro)
  • Note the following are provided:
  • * Beer and wine are available to purchase at the lodge at a reasonable price
  • * Pillows and duvets supplied at the lodge

Group Gear (supplied by the guides)

  • Altimeter
  • Map and compass
  • GPS
  • Snow study kit
  • Snow and/or bush saw
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency tarp
  • Emergency toboggan
  • Group repair kit
  • Radio & satellite phone
  • Ropes for glacier travel
Print it

Booking & Payment

Book Now to hold your spot!

The Book Now form takes about 60 seconds to complete. We will hold your spot until we contact you to answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. Then we’ll get you to complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms before paying your deposit.

Before signing through these documents read through them carefully and make sure you are comfortable with what you’re signing up for, and have a look through the booking “fine print” below. If you have any questions at any time do not hesitate to contact us.

Payment and booking conditions fine print

A deposit (typically 50%; see the trip description for the exact amount) to secure your place is  due upon booking. Final payment of balance is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless specified otherwise on the trip information page and/or your invoice. You will be invoiced for your payments after you have confirmed your interest in the trip. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments (the remainder) are non-refundable after the final payment date.

Credit Card payments are encouraged, especially if you have a card with trip cancellation insurance! Charges are made in CAD (foreign payments are converted to your local currency at your card company’s rate). We charge an additional 3.5% fee for card transactions. If your credit card provides you with cancellation insurance for this trip indicate this on your registration form and we will lower the convenience fee to 2%.  Cancelled trips that have cancellation insurance are much less of a headache for everyone. Please consider this option. It could be a very affordable way to protect yourself. But look carefully into your credit card’s fine print to make sure this trip is covered.

Non Credit Card Payments from Canadian clients: If you do not wish to pay by credit card we ask that you pay by E-transfer, sent to twolfe@sawback.com. There is no additional fee for Canadian E-transfers.

Non Credit Card Payments from outside Canada (US, Europe, other countries):

  1. Third party electronic transfer: You will need to fill out an agreement with our currency broker, Ken Fukami from Payline in Canmore, that includes your banking information to coordinate an electronic transfer (SEPA, EFT, etc.) There is no charge for this service and it is $50-100 cheaper than all other methods of payment from foreign clients. Contact us, or visit Payline’s website for details.
  2. PayPal: send money via PayPal to twolfe@sawback.com. There is a 4% charge to receive PayPal payments unless you send funds using the “P2P” a.k.a. “Friends and Family” method, which may cost the sender a small fee but does not cost us anything on our end, so no fee.
  3. Wire draft (bank to bank): Your bank wires our bank the money in CAD. We charge a $20 CAD fee for receiving these payments.
  4. Cheque: in either CAD or in your local currency (e.g. EUR, GBP, USD) at the rate listed on the trip information page on our website on the date of your booking.

Mailing address: Please send cheques in CAD to Thomas Wolfe, 234 Grizzly Cr, Canmore, AB T1W1B5, Canada

All fees paid are 100% non-refundable. We cannot be held liable for cancellations of any kind. Therefore we strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation and evacuation insurance to protect you in the event that you need to cancel or there is an emergency during your trip. The Alpine Club of Canada and Lifetstyle Financial (BCLBC Plan) both offer plans for trips like this that might interest you although we can’t personally vouch for them. Note that many credit cards carry this insurance for trips paid with the credit card — contact your credit card company to be sure.

Many of our trips are in remote locations. If you are injured or develop an emergency medical condition that requires evacuation, significant costs may be involved. We cannot be liable for the costs of emergency evacuation and so you are therefore encouraged to sign up for third party rescue insurance. The most robust plan we know if is through Global Rescue Services which services all areas we run trips to including Svalbard. You may choose to go with another but be warned that there are often exclusions that will render your insurance worthless when you need it. Global Rescue membership is $119 USD for a one-week trip — and it will cover you.

You must sign our Waiver of Liability in order to register for participation in our trips. You can view a printable copy the waiver here: English Waiver and translated into several other languages (German, French and Japanese) here: Translated Waivers.  If you have any questions about the waiver please talk to your lawyer and/or let me know prior to registration so I can help you.

The application form collects personal information which I use to make sure that I provide you with the best possible trip experience. If you do not want to answer any of the questions or you are unsure about anything leave it blank and/or contact me for clarification.

READ CAREFULLY – BOOKING, RESERVATION, DEPOSIT: A deposit of 50% of the total price or private guiding fee is due with your booking unless otherwise indicated. Please provide us with your credit card details, do a bank transfer (account information on demand), send an E-transfer to twolfe@sawback.com or mail me a personal cheque payable to Thomas Wolfe. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. If you wish to pay in a currency other than what our trips are quoted in, please inquire with us for a quote in your preferred denomination. Euro payments are only accepted by bank transfers in Euro denomination. We also accept bookings from minors; however we do require the signature of BOTH parents or ALL legal guardians on both, reservation form and liability waiver. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of the booking form with your check or credit card details we confirm your booking. Each Backountry Ski Trip we offer has a detailed Information Package (available on our website) with the trip details, equipment list, proposed itinerary and logistics, etc. Read through this carefully before completing your registration. TRIP (CANCELLATION / MEDICAL / EVACUATION / THEFT) INSURANCE: Once we confirm your booking, we enter into financial obligations on our side and we cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, we highly recommend buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”. Also, all participants need to have internationally accepted health insurance for all activities pertaining to the trip, including coverage for emergency rescue and evacuation. If you already have insurance, please make sure that you will be covered for “roped travel” booking a technical trip including “Via Ferrata” trips. We gladly refer you to a travel insurance provider who offers “adventure travel insurance packages” and with whom our clients have had positive claims experiences in the past. Generally, you will receive the best benefits if you buy your insurance within 10 days of our booking confirmation. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). Please see the trip information package for details on your trip’s Cancellation Policy. If the vacant spot can be filled due to efforts by our office, we retain an administration fee of 15% of your total trip price. CANCELLED PROGRAMS: Once we confirm your booking, we guarantee your trip departure. However, we do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force us to do so or should the physical condition of the participants (see below), weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. PERSONAL FITNESS and GROUP TRAVEL: Our programs rely heavily on the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the necessary skill and fitness level for a particular trip. When in doubt, please call and discuss this with us! For the protection of yourself and other group members, we reserve the right to deny participation to any unprepared participant at any time of the trip, in which case we cannot offer a refund! In order to accommodate diverse levels of ability and ambition as well as diverse personalities, the decision making of the guide has to be geared towards safety and finding a consensus within the whole group, which may not please each individual participant at all times.

Snow & Climate

Snowpack and Climate

This is NW Interior skiing, a bit colder and drier than the coast but it still dumps! On the ice Burnie has a 4+ m snowpack mid-winter. The lodge, at 1030 m ASL, is at by far the lowest elevation of any of the Canadian backcountry ski lodges. However, its northern latitude ensures a cool climate and great skiing into June. Temperatures in January average -20C to -10C, and in March -12C to -3C at the lodge.

Other Info

Some great photos from past trips (click links to view):

South Telkwa Glacier

Upper Ptarmigan and Lakehead East Ridge

Mitre Col Circuit

Here’s a great little video put together by some stoked guests (click link to view):

Burnie Glacier Video

Although this information package is comprehensive and specific to this trip, Christoph provides some general information on his Bear Mountaineering websitethat might prove useful to you as well

Staff

Staff

Tom Wolfe (Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA) has been guiding since moving to Canmore in 1995, the place he calls home with wife, son and daughter. He guides year around, with winters being a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations throughout western Canada. He has skied and guided many weeks at Burnie since 2004.

Ian Kirschner (Ski GUide, ACMG) has been ski guiding out of Golden for about 15 years. Ian mixes his time between guiding and working as a professional avalanche forecaster with BC Highways. Tom and Ian met during their guides’ exams and did many trips and courses together!

Christoph Dietzfelbinger (Mountain Guide, ACMG/IFMGA) is the owner of the Burnie Glacier Chalet. He is the one who has developed the area for both winter and summer use and it is first and foremost Christoph whom we can thank for being able to spend a week of skiing in such a wonderful facility.

Finally, life at Burnie includes superb meals. These are prepared by one of our two gracious in-house chefs, Molly and Monika, who consistently amaze guests with their beautiful, tasty, and abundant food. We are happy to accommodate special diets.

Our goal is to provide you with the best skiing possible in the comfort and ease of a fully catered backcountry chalet.

Burnie Glacier Chalet March 8-15, 2019

Ski Touring Teslin's at Burnie Glacier Chalet
THIS TRIP IS FULLY BOOKED. CONTACT US TO PUT YOUR NAME ON THE WAITING LIST.
Polemic Peak
Middle Solitaire
Middle Solitaire
Standing atop Middle Solitaire
Standing atop Middle Solitaire
Rectory Couloir
Rectory Couloir
Skiing down the Burnie Glacier
Below Rectory Couloir
Rectory Couloir
Burnie Glacier Chalet
Polemic Glacier
Heading up to the Burnie Step
Heading up to the Burnie Step
Heading up to the Burnie Step
Gaining the Upper Burnie Glacier
Loft trees
Standing on top of Loft Peak
Traverse Peak
Traverse Peak
Telkwa Gl
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
Telkwa Glacier
All stones col
All stones col
Burnie Glacier
Looking back at the Chalet
Upper Ptarmigan
Upper Ptarmigan
Upper Ptarmigan
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Full screenExit full screen
Slider

Dates: Friday, March 8 to Friday, March 15 2019

Price:$2,500 CAD/person (Currently $2,025 USD / €1,729 / £1,522) + 5% GST

Deposit: 50% payment secures your booking. Balance of payment is due 9 November 2018. See Payment and Booking Conditions tab for details.

Difficulty: 

  • Day trips, hut-based
  • Hut elevation 1030 m with 1500-1800 m/day on average (Experienced group)
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Powder skiing and ski mountaineering

Videos of Burnie!

Click on the tabs to view each one. I have to point out that Burnie does have running water, despite the bucket carrying scene in the first video...

360 degrees of Burnie


Use the controller in the top left to look around as this video plays.

Burnie Glacier 2015 Promo Video


I'm not a big fan of drones but I have to admit I like this video.

The best kept secret in BC ski lodges

Burnie Glacier Chalet is located near Smithers in northern British Columbia. It has spectacular, rugged alpine terrain with beautiful ski runs that range in nature from gentle glacier runs that can be done in most conditions to steep tree runs for high hazard days, to incredible ski mountaineering trips high into the alpine.

The Chalet is a simple but beautiful timber frame building, warmed by a beautiful wood burning kitchen stove with spectacular views of the towering Hut Peak, Burnie Glacier, Solitaire Ski Peaks and Lakehead Peak. It was built by Christoph Dietzfelbinger and a team of friends in the early 2000s. There are four bedrooms, each sleeping from 2 to 4 guests and including two double beds if there are any couples in the group. Pillows, sheets, and duvets are provided. You are encouraged to bring a couple of your own towels (one for using in the sauna, the other for drying off after your shower), although towels are available at the lodge in case you forget.

Burnie Glacier Chalet is perfectly situated for ski touring below the Burnie and Solitaire Glaciers and offers quick access to 700 m tree runs and 1400 m glacier runs that rise directly from the Chalet. In fact most of the runs ski right back to the Chalet with no uphill travel at the end of the day!

Logistics

Getting to Smithers

Simplest and easiest way to get to Burnie is to fly in and out of Smithers, BC. I recommend getting there the day before to allow time for your baggage to catch up to you in case it gets bumped. It’s tempting to try to arrive on the 9:30 am Friday flight, stroll across the tarmac and get into the helicopter to Burnie at 10:30 am, but it’s very risky!

The airlines that service Smithers are Air Canada (Jazz) and Central Mountain Air. If you are flying out of Vancouver you might find that CMA offers the best rates and availability. You might also find you can get cheap points tickets to Vancouver, and then add a CMA flight for your last leg. For some reason flights to Smithers have just been getting more and more expensive over the years.

You can also consider flying in and out of Terrace, BC which is a 2.5 hour drive from Smithers. Tickets to Terrace are often hundreds of dollars cheaper than to Smithers. You would need to rent a car, either as a one-way drop off twice or for the whole week — the costs work out to be about the same either way.

If you choose to drive to Smithers from your home be aware that it’s a long, lonely 2-lane highway and while it’s well maintained for a northern BC road it’s quite a long haul and in a winter storm your pace could slow to a crawl. So check the weather and give yourself enough time.

Free Burnie Airport Shuttle Service

We provide a free shuttle service between the airport and hotel before the trip (Thursday evening and Friday morning) as well as after the trip (Friday afternoon). Please let us know if you would like to take advantage of this service well in advance.

Pre-post trip accommodation
I recommend you stay the night at the Stork Nest Inn Thursday night. The Stork Nest includes an excellent breakfast the next morning and also provides free storage area for any luggage, ski bags, etc. you want to leave in town.

Helicopter Logistics

We are scheduled to meet at the Silver King hangar (next to the airport, tel: 250-877-1989) in Smithers, BC at 10:30 am on Friday to fly into the Burnie Glacier. If this changes I will let you know as soon as possible. If you plan to stay at the Stork Nest Inn in Smithers we will send a taxi to pick you up at about 10:00 am. If you have made arrangements to stay elsewhere please let me know so that we can arrange to have you picked up at the correct time. We plan to be back in Smithers by 17:00 on the following Friday at the very latest but usually as early as 14:00. If you choose to book a flight out of Smithers earlier than 18:00 (Central Mountain Air offers a flight out of Smithers at 14:30) check with me first, and be sure to get the appropriate insurance to cover you in case of weather delays out of Burnie.

Please do not transport your skis/poles in ski bags. Leave your ski bags at the Stork’s nest. The helicopters have limited space and ski bags take up too much room. Don’t worry, we’ll be gentle loading them!

Difficulty


Difficulty

  • Day trips, hut-based
  • Hut elevation 1030 m
  • Mixed groups (separated into Relaxed and Normal pace)
  • Glaciated terrain
  • Steep treed skiing
  • Powder skiing and ski mountaineering

Equipment List

Packing Notes:

A gear list for the week is attached below. Despite being a mid winter trip you should bring ski crampons. They can make a big difference even on a powder skiing week at times. If you have any difficulty obtaining these please let me know. I have some spares and can likely set you up with a pair. You will need a climbing harness with several locking carabiners. Please ensure that it fits comfortably over your ski clothes. A light weight ice axe may be useful for some of the lines in the area, especially late season (late March-April-May) but if you don’t have one or aren’t interested in that kind of skiing then don’t worry about bringing one. We have extras at the lodge in any case.

The lodge is equipped with 110 VAC power and does have limited Wi-Fi internet access. It has a great ski repair area and several sets of high quality skis if you would like to try something different during the week. It also has a wonderful sauna for the end of the day, and beer and wine are available to purchase at the lodge

Burnie Glacier Chalet Equipment List

Clothing

  • Wool or synthetic socks and liner socks
  • Long underwear top – synthetic or wool
  • Light fleece or wool sweater
  • Wind shell – nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type jacket
  • Waterproof breathable jacket
  • Warm insulated jacket – down or synthetic
  • Long underwear bottoms – synthetic or wool
  • Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants
  • Waterproof breathable pants
  • Warm hat – wool or synthetic
  • Brimmed cap for sun protection
  • Face warmer – scarf, neck tube or balaclava (optional)
  • Light gloves – wool, synthetic or leather
  • Insulated gloves or mitts with waterproof outer shell
  • Spare gloves or mitts
  • Handkerchief for blocking the sun (optional)
  • Snow Safety Equipment
  • Avalanche beacon with good batteries (and spares)
  • Shovel
  • Probe (2.4m or longer preferred)

Travel Equipment

  • Skis or split board
  • Ski strap
  • Ski or snowboard boots
  • Poles
  • Climbing skins
  • Skin wax (or a candle)
  • Ski crampons (mandatory)
  • Binding repair kit to fix your personal travel setup
  • Ski helmet (optional)

Personal Equipment

  • Pack (30-40 litres)
  • Sunglasses (both orange and dark lenses help a lot for travel in all conditions)
  • Goggles (orange lenses)
  • Sunscreen and lip cream (SPF 30+)
  • Head lamp with good batteries
  • Insulated water bottle or thermos (1-2 L)
  • Lunch bag or container
  • Personal blister kit (i.e: Leukotape-P and Compeed/Second Skin blister pads)
  • Pocket knife (optional)
  • Camera (optional)

Glacier Gear

  • Harness – fitted for over your ski clothing
  • Locking carabiners (x2)
  • Non-locking carabiners (x2)
  • Prussik cord – 5m x 6mm (optional)
  • Sewn sling – 120cm (optional)
  • Lightweight ice axe (optional, don’t bring if you don’t have one or don’t like steep skiing)

Hut Gear

  • Duffle bag for flying into the lodge
  • Shoes or sandals
  • Winter boots for travel to the outhouse (boots at the hut for you to use as well
  • f you prefer)
  • Hut clothing
  • 1-2 Towels and swimsuit for sauna
  • Personal medications and toiletries
  • Ear plugs
  • Reading material
  • Chargers for electronic devices (normal AC power is available via micro-hydro)
  • Note the following are provided:
  • * Beer and wine are available to purchase at the lodge at a reasonable price
  • * Pillows and duvets supplied at the lodge

Group Gear (supplied by the guides)

  • Altimeter
  • Map and compass
  • GPS
  • Snow study kit
  • Snow and/or bush saw
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency tarp
  • Emergency toboggan
  • Group repair kit
  • Radio & satellite phone
  • Ropes for glacier travel
Print it

Booking & Payment

Book Now to hold your spot!

The Book Now form takes about 60 seconds to complete. We will hold your spot until we contact you to answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. Then we’ll get you to complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms before paying your deposit.

Before signing through these documents read through them carefully and make sure you are comfortable with what you’re signing up for, and have a look through the booking “fine print” below. If you have any questions at any time do not hesitate to contact us.

Payment and booking conditions fine print

A deposit (typically 50%; see the trip description for the exact amount) to secure your place is  due upon booking. Final payment of balance is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless specified otherwise on the trip information page and/or your invoice. You will be invoiced for your payments after you have confirmed your interest in the trip. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments (the remainder) are non-refundable after the final payment date.

Credit Card payments are encouraged, especially if you have a card with trip cancellation insurance! Charges are made in CAD (foreign payments are converted to your local currency at your card company’s rate). We charge an additional 3.5% fee for card transactions. If your credit card provides you with cancellation insurance for this trip indicate this on your registration form and we will lower the convenience fee to 2%.  Cancelled trips that have cancellation insurance are much less of a headache for everyone. Please consider this option. It could be a very affordable way to protect yourself. But look carefully into your credit card’s fine print to make sure this trip is covered.

Non Credit Card Payments from Canadian clients: If you do not wish to pay by credit card we ask that you pay by E-transfer, sent to twolfe@sawback.com. There is no additional fee for Canadian E-transfers.

Non Credit Card Payments from outside Canada (US, Europe, other countries):

  1. Third party electronic transfer: You will need to fill out an agreement with our currency broker, Ken Fukami from Payline in Canmore, that includes your banking information to coordinate an electronic transfer (SEPA, EFT, etc.) There is no charge for this service and it is $50-100 cheaper than all other methods of payment from foreign clients. Contact us, or visit Payline’s website for details.
  2. PayPal: send money via PayPal to twolfe@sawback.com. There is a 4% charge to receive PayPal payments unless you send funds using the “P2P” a.k.a. “Friends and Family” method, which may cost the sender a small fee but does not cost us anything on our end, so no fee.
  3. Wire draft (bank to bank): Your bank wires our bank the money in CAD. We charge a $20 CAD fee for receiving these payments.
  4. Cheque: in either CAD or in your local currency (e.g. EUR, GBP, USD) at the rate listed on the trip information page on our website on the date of your booking.

Mailing address: Please send cheques in CAD to Thomas Wolfe, 234 Grizzly Cr, Canmore, AB T1W1B5, Canada

All fees paid are 100% non-refundable. We cannot be held liable for cancellations of any kind. Therefore we strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation and evacuation insurance to protect you in the event that you need to cancel or there is an emergency during your trip. The Alpine Club of Canada and Lifetstyle Financial (BCLBC Plan) both offer plans for trips like this that might interest you although we can’t personally vouch for them. Note that many credit cards carry this insurance for trips paid with the credit card — contact your credit card company to be sure.

Many of our trips are in remote locations. If you are injured or develop an emergency medical condition that requires evacuation, significant costs may be involved. We cannot be liable for the costs of emergency evacuation and so you are therefore encouraged to sign up for third party rescue insurance. The most robust plan we know if is through Global Rescue Services which services all areas we run trips to including Svalbard. You may choose to go with another but be warned that there are often exclusions that will render your insurance worthless when you need it. Global Rescue membership is $119 USD for a one-week trip — and it will cover you.

You must sign our Waiver of Liability in order to register for participation in our trips. You can view a printable copy the waiver here: English Waiver and translated into several other languages (German, French and Japanese) here: Translated Waivers.  If you have any questions about the waiver please talk to your lawyer and/or let me know prior to registration so I can help you.

The application form collects personal information which I use to make sure that I provide you with the best possible trip experience. If you do not want to answer any of the questions or you are unsure about anything leave it blank and/or contact me for clarification.

READ CAREFULLY – BOOKING, RESERVATION, DEPOSIT: A deposit of 50% of the total price or private guiding fee is due with your booking unless otherwise indicated. Please provide us with your credit card details, do a bank transfer (account information on demand), send an E-transfer to twolfe@sawback.com or mail me a personal cheque payable to Thomas Wolfe. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. If you wish to pay in a currency other than what our trips are quoted in, please inquire with us for a quote in your preferred denomination. Euro payments are only accepted by bank transfers in Euro denomination. We also accept bookings from minors; however we do require the signature of BOTH parents or ALL legal guardians on both, reservation form and liability waiver. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of the booking form with your check or credit card details we confirm your booking. Each Backountry Ski Trip we offer has a detailed Information Package (available on our website) with the trip details, equipment list, proposed itinerary and logistics, etc. Read through this carefully before completing your registration. TRIP (CANCELLATION / MEDICAL / EVACUATION / THEFT) INSURANCE: Once we confirm your booking, we enter into financial obligations on our side and we cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, we highly recommend buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”. Also, all participants need to have internationally accepted health insurance for all activities pertaining to the trip, including coverage for emergency rescue and evacuation. If you already have insurance, please make sure that you will be covered for “roped travel” booking a technical trip including “Via Ferrata” trips. We gladly refer you to a travel insurance provider who offers “adventure travel insurance packages” and with whom our clients have had positive claims experiences in the past. Generally, you will receive the best benefits if you buy your insurance within 10 days of our booking confirmation. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). Please see the trip information package for details on your trip’s Cancellation Policy. If the vacant spot can be filled due to efforts by our office, we retain an administration fee of 15% of your total trip price. CANCELLED PROGRAMS: Once we confirm your booking, we guarantee your trip departure. However, we do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force us to do so or should the physical condition of the participants (see below), weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. PERSONAL FITNESS and GROUP TRAVEL: Our programs rely heavily on the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the necessary skill and fitness level for a particular trip. When in doubt, please call and discuss this with us! For the protection of yourself and other group members, we reserve the right to deny participation to any unprepared participant at any time of the trip, in which case we cannot offer a refund! In order to accommodate diverse levels of ability and ambition as well as diverse personalities, the decision making of the guide has to be geared towards safety and finding a consensus within the whole group, which may not please each individual participant at all times.

Snow & Climate

Snowpack and Climate

This is NW Interior skiing, a bit colder and drier than the coast but it still dumps! On the ice Burnie has a 4+ m snowpack mid-winter. The lodge, at 1030 m ASL, is at by far the lowest elevation of any of the Canadian backcountry ski lodges. However, its northern latitude ensures a cool climate and great skiing into June. Temperatures in January average -20C to -10C, and in March -12C to -3C at the lodge.

Other Info

Here's a cool Blog from Arcteryx' trip there a couple of winters ago: https://blog.arcteryx.com/tag/burnie-glacier-chalet/

And some great photos from past trips I've done there (click links to view):

South Telkwa Glacier

Upper Ptarmigan and Lakehead East Ridge

Mitre Col Circuit

Here’s a great little video put together by some stoked guests (click link to view):

Burnie Glacier Video

Although this information package is comprehensive and specific to this trip, Christoph provides some general information on his Bear Mountaineering websitethat might prove useful to you as well

Staff

Staff

Tom Wolfe (Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA) has been guiding since moving to Canmore in 1995, the place he calls home with wife, son and daughter. He guides year around, with winters being a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations throughout western Canada. He has skied and guided many weeks at Burnie since 2004.

Ian Kirschner (Ski GUide, ACMG) has been ski guiding out of Golden for about 15 years. Ian mixes his time between guiding and working as a professional avalanche forecaster with BC Highways. Tom and Ian met during their guides’ exams and did many trips and courses together!

Christoph Dietzfelbinger (Mountain Guide, ACMG/IFMGA) is the owner of the Burnie Glacier Chalet. He is the one who has developed the area for both winter and summer use and it is first and foremost Christoph whom we can thank for being able to spend a week of skiing in such a wonderful facility.

Finally, life at Burnie includes superb meals. These are prepared by one of our two gracious in-house chefs, Molly and Monika, who consistently amaze guests with their beautiful, tasty, and abundant food. We are happy to accommodate special diets.

Our goal is to provide you with the best skiing possible in the comfort and ease of a fully catered backcountry chalet.

Sunrise Lodge Feb 9-16, 2019

This trip is fully booked
Contact us to get on the waiting list

Soft Selkirk Powder at Golden Sunrise

Sunrise Lodge is located at the headwaters of Wisted Creek and offers stunning views of Rockies to the west and Purcells to the south. Sunrise is the southern gateway to the amazing Esplanade range, including Meadow, Vista and Sentry Lodges. Consensus among those who’ve spent time at all four Esplanade Range Huts though is that Sunrise is the best: best terrain, best for storm skiing, and best snowpack of the bunch!

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Dates: Saturday, Feb 9 to Saturday, Feb 16 2019

Price: $2,350 CAD (Currently $1,910 USD / €1,629 / £1,434) + 5% GST

Deposit: 50% payment secures your booking. Balance of payment is due 9 November 2018. See Payment and Booking Conditions tab for details.

Difficulty:

  • Day trips, hut-based
  • Hut elevation 2134 m with 1200-1500 m/day tours on average (Relaxed Pace trip)
  • Non-glaciated terrain
  • Powder skiing

Fantastic skiing, close to home

One of the best features of Sunrise Lodge is how easy it is to get to. Staging is just a few metres off the Trans Canada Highway 20 minutes from Golden, BC. For those of you coming from Alberta and eastern BC -- there's no easier lodge to get to.

And of course there's the skiing. One of the closest tenures to the world-famous Rogers Pass, Sunrise is home to some great Selkirk skiing -- minus the crowds! You can expect lots of alpine and treed lines here, with everything from gentle open slopes to steep pillow lines. Our last trip to Sunrise in 2017 was a big hit and so I’m happy to be offering another one for 2019!

  • 1200 square feet. Sleeps up to 16 people per night (12 guests, 4 staff)
  • 6 guest bedrooms / 2 guide bedrooms
  • Services:  2 outhouses, wood / propane heat, radio, limited cell coverage, water from Sunrise Lake, Heli pad
  • Full cellular coverage at Sunrise Lodge and in most places near the lodge
  • Brand new sauna built in 2014
  • Full solar upgrade in 2013 provides task lighting in all rooms of the lodge
  • New super high energy efficient Blaze King “Princess” fireplace installed in 2015

The lodge is equipped with AC power but does not have WiFi/internet access at all. It also has a wonderful sauna for the end of the day. Beer and wine are not provided, but feel free to bring your own.

Logistics

Getting to Golden, BC, Meeting Place, Staging Info

If you are flying from out of town the most convenient international airport is Calgary, about 3 hours east Golden.

Other options for flying include Kelowna (about 4 hours drive west of Golden) or Cranbrook (2h45 south of Golden). Driving from Vancouver to Golden takes about 7h30, from Spokane the drive is around 6 hours. There is a regional airport in Golden but it only handles very small charter aircraft.

Kicking Horse River Lodge is a great place to stay the Friday night before the trip. They can handle a group with room rates that start from around $40/night. Sorcerer customers get a discount but in order to get that you must phone them directly. They cannot offer this if you book through an agency such as booking.com. It’s a nice timber frame building on the Kicking Horse River. We meet here Saturday night and breakfast is here Sunday morning so it is convenient. If you choose to stay here please book early. It fills quickly. http://www.khrl.com/aw  1-250-439-1112

The meeting place for your trip is at the Golden Alpine Holidays office  at 104, 806 - 9th Street North. Your meeting time is at Saturday, Feb 9, 2019 at 7:00 am Mountain Standard Time (MST). You are expected to sign your waiver at this time.  Flights to GAH lodges take place at our Helicopter Staging Facility  west of Golden. Guests are required to get themselves to GAH Staging.

Difficulty


Difficulty

  • Day trips, hut-based
  • Hut elevation 2200 m with 1100-1300 m/day on average (Relaxed pace)
  • Non-glaciated alpine and treeline terrain
  • Powder skiing in trees

Equipment List

Packing Notes:

We do not provide any alcoholic beverages, however you are welcome to bring some along with you. Bring beer in cans. Small kegs are fine – no giants. We do suggest you bring your alcohol with you to Golden, as it’s a tad expensive here in small town BC. Pack your “stuff” directly into your daypack and a small – medium duffle bag, 60 litres max. Please avoid using the large duffle bags/packs and anything with wheels or hard sides, as they are awkward to handle and difficult to load into the helicopter.

We supply all linen and quilts so you don’t need a sleeping bag. BRING TOWELS. Skis are best left out of bags, bundled together with a ski strap.

Shovels should be loose outside your pack if they don’t completely fit inside with the hard edges all covered. Ice axes are left loose and will go in the ski basket for transport. Please don’t attach them to your pack. They can punch holes in the thin skin of the helicopter’s cargo areas. You are advised to dress for skiing when you get on the helicopter so you should have your ski boots on and all other footwear packed safely in your bags. It’s too easy to lose a single boot in all the powder that will be blowing around and you want to start out with dry feet.

Sunrise Lodge – Ski Touring – Equipment List

Clothing

  •  Wool or synthetic socks and liner socks
  •  Long underwear top – synthetic or wool
  •  Light fleece or wool sweater
  •  Wind shell – nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type jacket
  •  Waterproof breathable jacket
  •  Warm insulated jacket – down or synthetic
  •  Long underwear bottoms – synthetic or wool
  •  Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants
  •  Waterproof breathable pants
  •  Warm hat – wool or synthetic
  •  Brimmed cap for sun protection
  •  Face warmer – scarf, neck tube or balaclava (optional)
  •  Light gloves – wool, synthetic or leather
  •  Insulated gloves or mitts with waterproof outer shell
  •  Spare gloves or mitts
  •  Handkerchief for blocking the sun (optional)

Snow Safety Equipment

  •  Avalanche beacon with good batteries (and spares)
  •  Shovel
  •  Probe (2.4m or longer preferred)

Travel Equipment

  •  Skis or split board
  •  Ski strap
  •  Ski or snowboard boots
  •  Poles
  •  Climbing skins
  •  Skin wax (or a candle)
  •  Ski crampons (mandatory)
  •  Binding repair kit to fix your personal travel setup
  •  Ski helmet (optional)

Personal Equipment

  •  Pack (30-40 litres)
  •  Sunglasses (both orange and dark lenses help a lot for travel in all conditions)
  •  Goggles (orange lenses)
  •  Sunscreen and lip cream (SPF 30+)
  •  Head lamp with good batteries
  •  Insulated water bottle or thermos (1-2 L)
  •  Lunch bag or container
  •  Personal blister kit (i.e: Leukotape-P and Compeed/Second Skin blister pads)
  •  Pocket knife (optional)
  •  Camera (optional)

Hut Gear

  •  Duffle bag for flying into the lodge
  •  Shoes or sandals
  •  Winter boots for travel to the outhouse (boots at the hut for you to use as well if you prefer)
  •  Hut clothing
  •  1-2 Towels and swimsuit for sauna
  •  Personal medications and toiletries
  •  Ear plugs
  •  Reading material
  •  Chargers for electronic devices (normal AC power is available via micro-hydro)

Note the following are provided:

  •   Pillows and duvets supplied at the lodge

Misc

  •  Beer, wine, liquor

Group Gear (supplied by the guides)

  •  Altimeter
  •  Map and compass
  •  GPS
  •  Snow study kit
  •  Snow and/or bush saw
  •  First aid kit
  •  Emergency tarp
  •  Emergency toboggan
  •  Group repair kit
  •  Radio & satellite phone
  •  Ropes for glacier travel
Print it

Booking & Payment

Book Now to hold your spot!

The Book Now form takes about 60 seconds to complete. We will hold your spot until we contact you to answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. Then we’ll get you to complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms before paying your deposit.

Before signing through these documents read through them carefully and make sure you are comfortable with what you’re signing up for, and have a look through the booking “fine print” below. If you have any questions at any time do not hesitate to contact us.

Payment and booking conditions fine print

A deposit (typically 50%; see the trip description for the exact amount) to secure your place is  due upon booking. Final payment of balance is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless specified otherwise on the trip information page and/or your invoice. You will be invoiced for your payments after you have confirmed your interest in the trip. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments (the remainder) are non-refundable after the final payment date.

Credit Card payments are encouraged, especially if you have a card with trip cancellation insurance! Charges are made in CAD (foreign payments are converted to your local currency at your card company’s rate). We charge an additional 3.5% fee for card transactions. If your credit card provides you with cancellation insurance for this trip indicate this on your registration form and we will lower the convenience fee to 2%.  Cancelled trips that have cancellation insurance are much less of a headache for everyone. Please consider this option. It could be a very affordable way to protect yourself. But look carefully into your credit card’s fine print to make sure this trip is covered.

Non Credit Card Payments from Canadian clients: If you do not wish to pay by credit card we ask that you pay by E-transfer, sent to twolfe@sawback.com. There is no additional fee for Canadian E-transfers.

Non Credit Card Payments from outside Canada (US, Europe, other countries):

  1. Third party electronic transfer: You will need to fill out an agreement with our currency broker, Ken Fukami from Payline in Canmore, that includes your banking information to coordinate an electronic transfer (SEPA, EFT, etc.) There is no charge for this service and it is $50-100 cheaper than all other methods of payment from foreign clients. Contact us, or visit Payline’s website for details.
  2. PayPal: send money via PayPal to twolfe@sawback.com. There is a 4% charge to receive PayPal payments unless you send funds using the “P2P” a.k.a. “Friends and Family” method, which may cost the sender a small fee but does not cost us anything on our end, so no fee.
  3. Wire draft (bank to bank): Your bank wires our bank the money in CAD. We charge a $20 CAD fee for receiving these payments.
  4. Cheque: in either CAD or in your local currency (e.g. EUR, GBP, USD) at the rate listed on the trip information page on our website on the date of your booking.

Mailing address: Please send cheques in CAD to Thomas Wolfe, 234 Grizzly Cr, Canmore, AB T1W1B5, Canada

All fees paid are 100% non-refundable. We cannot be held liable for cancellations of any kind. Therefore we strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation and evacuation insurance to protect you in the event that you need to cancel or there is an emergency during your trip. The Alpine Club of Canada and Lifetstyle Financial (BCLBC Plan) both offer plans for trips like this that might interest you although we can’t personally vouch for them. Note that many credit cards carry this insurance for trips paid with the credit card — contact your credit card company to be sure.

Many of our trips are in remote locations. If you are injured or develop an emergency medical condition that requires evacuation, significant costs may be involved. We cannot be liable for the costs of emergency evacuation and so you are therefore encouraged to sign up for third party rescue insurance. The most robust plan we know if is through Global Rescue Services which services all areas we run trips to including Svalbard. You may choose to go with another but be warned that there are often exclusions that will render your insurance worthless when you need it. Global Rescue membership is $119 USD for a one-week trip — and it will cover you.

You must sign our Waiver of Liability in order to register for participation in our trips. You can view a printable copy the waiver here: English Waiver and translated into several other languages (German, French and Japanese) here: Translated Waivers.  If you have any questions about the waiver please talk to your lawyer and/or let me know prior to registration so I can help you.

The application form collects personal information which I use to make sure that I provide you with the best possible trip experience. If you do not want to answer any of the questions or you are unsure about anything leave it blank and/or contact me for clarification.

READ CAREFULLY – BOOKING, RESERVATION, DEPOSIT: A deposit of 50% of the total price or private guiding fee is due with your booking unless otherwise indicated. Please provide us with your credit card details, do a bank transfer (account information on demand), send an E-transfer to twolfe@sawback.com or mail me a personal cheque payable to Thomas Wolfe. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. If you wish to pay in a currency other than what our trips are quoted in, please inquire with us for a quote in your preferred denomination. Euro payments are only accepted by bank transfers in Euro denomination. We also accept bookings from minors; however we do require the signature of BOTH parents or ALL legal guardians on both, reservation form and liability waiver. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of the booking form with your check or credit card details we confirm your booking. Each Backountry Ski Trip we offer has a detailed Information Package (available on our website) with the trip details, equipment list, proposed itinerary and logistics, etc. Read through this carefully before completing your registration. TRIP (CANCELLATION / MEDICAL / EVACUATION / THEFT) INSURANCE: Once we confirm your booking, we enter into financial obligations on our side and we cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, we highly recommend buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”. Also, all participants need to have internationally accepted health insurance for all activities pertaining to the trip, including coverage for emergency rescue and evacuation. If you already have insurance, please make sure that you will be covered for “roped travel” booking a technical trip including “Via Ferrata” trips. We gladly refer you to a travel insurance provider who offers “adventure travel insurance packages” and with whom our clients have had positive claims experiences in the past. Generally, you will receive the best benefits if you buy your insurance within 10 days of our booking confirmation. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). Please see the trip information package for details on your trip’s Cancellation Policy. If the vacant spot can be filled due to efforts by our office, we retain an administration fee of 15% of your total trip price. CANCELLED PROGRAMS: Once we confirm your booking, we guarantee your trip departure. However, we do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force us to do so or should the physical condition of the participants (see below), weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. PERSONAL FITNESS and GROUP TRAVEL: Our programs rely heavily on the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the necessary skill and fitness level for a particular trip. When in doubt, please call and discuss this with us! For the protection of yourself and other group members, we reserve the right to deny participation to any unprepared participant at any time of the trip, in which case we cannot offer a refund! In order to accommodate diverse levels of ability and ambition as well as diverse personalities, the decision making of the guide has to be geared towards safety and finding a consensus within the whole group, which may not please each individual participant at all times.

Snow & Climate

Snowpack and Climate

It begins in September when cool moisture laden clouds stack up along the west edge of the Selkirk Mountain Range. Snow starts piling up as clouds are forced up and over the crests of the 3000 meter and higher elevations.  At GAH which operates in the Esplanade Range in British Columbia, major storm tracks help to funnel in the powder. Another key to the quality of the snow is proximity to the colder/dryer areas near the Rocky Mountain Trench which means more sun and lighter powder than the western portions of the province which tend to receive much more rain.

Meteorological data gathered over 6 seasons show that day time temperatures in the Esplanade Range are very stable and rarely if ever rise above zero during the winter season.

The Esplanade range has a typical settled, mid winter snow pack depth of 4 meters (over 50 meters cumulative snowfall) and a 200+ day season

Other Info

Blog Post

Here’s a link to a blog about a recent trip to Sunrise Lodge to give you a better idea of what to expect:

http://biglines.com/categories/ski/backcountry-problem-solving-volkl-crew-sunrise-lodge/

Videos

Numerous feature length movies and media projects have been shot over the past few years at Golden Alpine Holidays. Here are some samples:

Staff

Staff

Tom Wolfe (Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA) has been guiding since moving to Canmore in 1995, the place he calls home with wife, son and daughter. He guides year around, with winters being a mix of ski guiding at lodges, heli-ski operations, and remote backcountry destinations throughout western Canada.

Rob Coppolillo - Rob brings his US guests across the border to experience the amazing powder skiing Canada has to offer. This trip will be a 50-50 mix of Tom's and Rob's clients; the meeting of two worlds. Rob runs Vetta Mountain Guides out of Boulder , CO and is the author of The Mountain Guide Manual.

Finally, your week at Sunrise includes superb meals. These are prepared by our gracious chef, Michelle Heerschop, who consistently amaze guests with her beautiful, tasty, and abundant food. We are happy to accommodate special diets (additional fee applies).

Our goal is to provide you with the best skiing possible in the comfort and ease of a fully catered backcountry chalet.

Payment and Booking Conditions

Book Now to hold your spot!

The Book Now form takes about 60 seconds to complete. We will hold your spot until we contact you to answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. Then we’ll get you to complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms before paying your deposit.

Before signing through these documents read through them carefully and make sure you are comfortable with what you’re signing up for, and have a look through the booking “fine print” below. If you have any questions at any time do not hesitate to contact us.

Payment and booking conditions fine print

A deposit (typically 50%; see the trip description for the exact amount) to secure your place is  due upon booking. Final payment of balance is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless specified otherwise on the trip information page and/or your invoice. You will be invoiced for your payments after you have confirmed your interest in the trip. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments (the remainder) are non-refundable after the final payment date.

Credit Card payments are encouraged, especially if you have a card with trip cancellation insurance! Charges are made in CAD (foreign payments are converted to your local currency at your card company’s rate). We charge an additional 3.5% fee for card transactions. If your credit card provides you with cancellation insurance for this trip indicate this on your registration form and we will lower the convenience fee to 2%.  Cancelled trips that have cancellation insurance are much less of a headache for everyone. Please consider this option. It could be a very affordable way to protect yourself. But look carefully into your credit card’s fine print to make sure this trip is covered.

Non Credit Card Payments from Canadian clients: If you do not wish to pay by credit card we ask that you pay by E-transfer, sent to twolfe@sawback.com. There is no additional fee for Canadian E-transfers.

Non Credit Card Payments from outside Canada (US, Europe, other countries):

  1. Third party electronic transfer: You will need to fill out an agreement with our currency broker, Ken Fukami from Payline in Canmore, that includes your banking information to coordinate an electronic transfer (SEPA, EFT, etc.) There is no charge for this service and it is $50-100 cheaper than all other methods of payment from foreign clients. Contact us, or visit Payline’s website for details.
  2. PayPal: send money via PayPal to twolfe@sawback.com. There is a 4% charge to receive PayPal payments unless you send funds using the “P2P” a.k.a. “Friends and Family” method, which may cost the sender a small fee but does not cost us anything on our end, so no fee.
  3. Wire draft (bank to bank): Your bank wires our bank the money in CAD. We charge a $20 CAD fee for receiving these payments.
  4. Cheque: in either CAD or in your local currency (e.g. EUR, GBP, USD) at the rate listed on the trip information page on our website on the date of your booking.

Mailing address: Please send cheques in CAD to Thomas Wolfe, 234 Grizzly Cr, Canmore, AB T1W1B5, Canada

All fees paid are 100% non-refundable. We cannot be held liable for cancellations of any kind. Therefore we strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation and evacuation insurance to protect you in the event that you need to cancel or there is an emergency during your trip. The Alpine Club of Canada and Lifetstyle Financial (BCLBC Plan) both offer plans for trips like this that might interest you although we can’t personally vouch for them. Note that many credit cards carry this insurance for trips paid with the credit card — contact your credit card company to be sure.

Many of our trips are in remote locations. If you are injured or develop an emergency medical condition that requires evacuation, significant costs may be involved. We cannot be liable for the costs of emergency evacuation and so you are therefore encouraged to sign up for third party rescue insurance. The most robust plan we know if is through Global Rescue Services which services all areas we run trips to including Svalbard. You may choose to go with another but be warned that there are often exclusions that will render your insurance worthless when you need it. Global Rescue membership is $119 USD for a one-week trip — and it will cover you.

You must sign our Waiver of Liability in order to register for participation in our trips. You can view a printable copy the waiver here: English Waiver and translated into several other languages (German, French and Japanese) here: Translated Waivers.  If you have any questions about the waiver please talk to your lawyer and/or let me know prior to registration so I can help you.

The application form collects personal information which I use to make sure that I provide you with the best possible trip experience. If you do not want to answer any of the questions or you are unsure about anything leave it blank and/or contact me for clarification.

READ CAREFULLY – BOOKING, RESERVATION, DEPOSIT: A deposit of 50% of the total price or private guiding fee is due with your booking unless otherwise indicated. Please provide us with your credit card details, do a bank transfer (account information on demand), send an E-transfer to twolfe@sawback.com or mail me a personal cheque payable to Thomas Wolfe. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. If you wish to pay in a currency other than what our trips are quoted in, please inquire with us for a quote in your preferred denomination. Euro payments are only accepted by bank transfers in Euro denomination. We also accept bookings from minors; however we do require the signature of BOTH parents or ALL legal guardians on both, reservation form and liability waiver. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of the booking form with your check or credit card details we confirm your booking. Each Backountry Ski Trip we offer has a detailed Information Package (available on our website) with the trip details, equipment list, proposed itinerary and logistics, etc. Read through this carefully before completing your registration. TRIP (CANCELLATION / MEDICAL / EVACUATION / THEFT) INSURANCE: Once we confirm your booking, we enter into financial obligations on our side and we cannot refund payments or release you from your contractual obligations. Therefore, we highly recommend buying cancellation insurance to cover your losses for the case that you can’t participate or have to interrupt your trip “for any reason”. Also, all participants need to have internationally accepted health insurance for all activities pertaining to the trip, including coverage for emergency rescue and evacuation. If you already have insurance, please make sure that you will be covered for “roped travel” booking a technical trip including “Via Ferrata” trips. We gladly refer you to a travel insurance provider who offers “adventure travel insurance packages” and with whom our clients have had positive claims experiences in the past. Generally, you will receive the best benefits if you buy your insurance within 10 days of our booking confirmation. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). Please see the trip information package for details on your trip’s Cancellation Policy. If the vacant spot can be filled due to efforts by our office, we retain an administration fee of 15% of your total trip price. CANCELLED PROGRAMS: Once we confirm your booking, we guarantee your trip departure. However, we do reserve the right to change guides, particular lodging or the itinerary should unforeseen circumstances (guide sickness, hut or route closing etc.) force us to do so or should the physical condition of the participants (see below), weather or mountain conditions make a continuation as planned too risky. PERSONAL FITNESS and GROUP TRAVEL: Our programs rely heavily on the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the necessary skill and fitness level for a particular trip. When in doubt, please call and discuss this with us! For the protection of yourself and other group members, we reserve the right to deny participation to any unprepared participant at any time of the trip, in which case we cannot offer a refund! In order to accommodate diverse levels of ability and ambition as well as diverse personalities, the decision making of the guide has to be geared towards safety and finding a consensus within the whole group, which may not please each individual participant at all times.

Svalbard Ski and Sail | Ski touring the Arctic Archipelago with the Midnight Sun

Svalbard Ski and Sail 2019

There is still space for you on our 2019 Svalbard Ski and Sail Trip!

These three photos were taken on the same day; the left two are of Barentsburg, the rightmost is our first run of the day in Ramfjeldalen.

At the end of May I joined a trip to Svalbard with fellow mountain guides Jörg Wilz and David Lussier and a boat load of other new and old friends. Thanks especially to Jörg, who made it all happen, Phil Wickens, the expedition leader with Oceanwide Expeditions who brought us to the goods, as well as the Dutch crew and cook (Floris, Robert, Marika and Gabrielle) who transported us in comfort and kept us fed: 25 of us all told including crew.

In total we spent 12 days exploring the coastal ski touring that the archipelago has to offer: 7 nights on the boat and the rest in Longyearbyen. The Noorderlicht, a beautiful double-masted gaff rigged boat built in 1910, brought us into a few of the many fjords that empty into the oceans.

Made for Ski Touring

Svalbard, or Spitzbergen as it is also known, is made for skiing. Countless ski peaks rise 500 to 800 m or more directly out of the ocean, blanketed in snow and rugged glaciers as far as the eye can see. May is a good month to go there because access by boat is easy with minimal pack ice barring the way. I had very low expectations for snow and ski conditions, but I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. While certainly not the blower powder I enjoyed day after day during this year’s endless western Canada winter, it was excellent spring ski touring and a real bonus in the last days of May when most sensible skiers have hung up their boards for the season.

My best day was actually the last day we spent skiing. An amazing day of climbing and skiing down three of Svalbard’s perfect ski peaks that rise out of a navy blue, perfectly calm fjord. The fjord was fringed with rugged, tumbling seracs and the lingering pack ice stretched into the bay. The snow was corn snow of a mostly ideal variety –  soft and creamy, made for long radius, fast turns.

At the end of the day, as usual, we finished skiing and made our way onto the Noorderlicht by Zodiac. As soon as we loaded, the Noorderlicht began sailing to the next destination and we began relaxing, showering, eating, and talking about the day.

After a couple of hours our destination for the night came into view: the Russian settlement of Berentsburg, where coal mining is still in operation. It was probably around 8 pm when everyone started getting restless and talking about going for a ski tour. Really, this was the last thing I felt like doing but I thought — well, how often do I get a chance to start a ski tour at night? So I got my things together and reluctantly started the long walk up the staircase from the jetty to the town.

Barentsburg: A Soviet Era Relic

The town is a bit surreal. It’s classic Soviet era architecture with a bit of modern pizzazz from a recent facelift that renovated many of the buildings – at least the fronts of the buildings. The back sides of some of them are crumbling brick. What was especially odd was the presence of a massive Lenin sculpture in the main square, as well as a gigantic concrete slogan that read: “Communism is our Goal!” The facelift was not exactly thorough.

After walking through the town schlepping our skis with us we began the tour, at first through industrial waste including rebar and rusting metal pipes. The snow was appalling at first. But before long we gained the ridge overlooking the town and everyone’s spirits began to lift at the same time as the snow firmed up. The clouds even began to lift a bit and the views across the Isfjord were inspiring. We summited the Grønfjordfjellet a little after 11 pm and layed down 550 m of tracks, coasting into town, right to the brewery, at around midnight. At least a couple of us were still wearing sunglasses!

Arctic Brew Pub north of 79°?!

The little brewery was a curiosity. It bears a sign in front boasting of being “The World’s most Northern Brewery” which actually isn’t true anymore since Longyearbyen’s Bryggeri was built 10′ further north. But I would say it’s certainly the world’s most unlikely northern brewery, nestled into this industrial arctic harbour town. Before long our group settled down to drinking vodka shots & cold beers and chatting with the locals, who spoke of course Russian but also good English.

Finally at about 1:30 I realized that I’d been awake over 20 hours — all of it basked in sunlight — and that I was tired. I made my way by myself down to the jetty, just in time to see Robert cast off the Antigua (another beautiful sail boat) which had been moored next to us. Robert and I talked a bit in the glowing middle-night sun — he told me that he’d been visiting with one of the mates of the Antigua, a “lovely girl” he knows from his time on the sea — and then I turned in for the night.

There is still space for you on our next trip — see our Svalbard Ski and Sail 2019 page for details!