Fall 2023 Newsletter

Shred season 2023 is fast approaching

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Counter-clockwise from top: (1) Tom’s son Rohan followed by Marcus, Greg, Martina, Jure and Chris in Tinarebukta 1000 km north of the Arctic Circle; (2) Shredding Pow in Svalbard last May; (3) April Powder at Selkirk Lodge in late April. Many argue that the best skiing of the season is in April — though we should point out that Pow Season continues until the end of May in Svalbard!

Looking forward, fingers crossed, to a post-Covid ski season this winter

The news is out, even Japan has opened its borders. While it’s a stretch to say it’s business as usual, we are looking forward to a pretty close second best to normal. Our mid-winter ski weeks sold out a year ago already, but we have plenty of options for skiing early and late season still — scroll down to see what’s available.

Come check us out at the Banff Film Festival!

We have a booth at the Banff Film Festival Marketplace this Friday, Saturday and Sunday! If you’re in Banff be sure to nip by the Kinnear Centre and say hello — it will be impossible to miss us, I promise. We’ll have a Transition Contest with some great prizes, as well as some giant posters featuring some of the trips we offer, and a few photo albums full of inspiring snapshots of powder turns from years gone by.

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Did I mention there’s fantastic — I mean, fantastic — local skiing in the Canadian Rockies? Discover what I’m talking about with early season Guided Backcountry Days!

Early season local hits

If you are in the Bow Valley on a Thursday early season then we are offering Guided Backcountry Day adventures. $179 per person per day, or get a GBD Powder Pass for $495 (up to 4 days).

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Guide Hansjörg Hofer skis down Lower Ptarmigan, one of Burnie’s excellent tree skiing runs.

Hut spots still available at Burnie Glacier Chalet

If you and a friend are still looking for a hut trip this winter, we’ve got good news for you! Jan 6-13 we still have 2 spots available. To book your spot head here: Burnie BG23-1

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Guide Joel McBurney dropping into the final steep pitch above the coastline of Borabukta on Prince Karls Vorland in Svalbard at the end of May this spring. Our sailboat, the Rembrandt van Rijn, waits anchored in the bay below.

Svalbard: Ski and Sail in an arctic paradise

If you’re longing to get away — far, far away — then it doesn’t get any better than our Ski & Sail programs.

Svalbard Ski & Sail — Our Svalbard Ski & Sail trip has become our flagship trip, and it’s popular for a reason. This northern archipelago, also known as Spitzbergen, is situated north of 78 degrees and is a land seemingly perfectly designed for ski touring. Last spring we sailed as far north as possible, touching the sea ice that leads to the north pole in Bjørnafjorden (Bear Fjord). Svalbard abounds with marine life, including whales, walrus and even polar bears, as well as arctic mammals like reindeer and arctic fox, as well as sea birds. A trip of a lifetime in the most remarkable environment. We still have availablity for you and your friends on two trips, April 26-May 6 and May 3 to May 13.

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A classic powder run in the Lyngen Alps, the latest addition to our trip lineup. Ski and Sail the Fjords of Northern Norway April 8-15, 2023. There’s still a few spots available!

Ski Lyngen Alps, far from the crowds, new for 2023!

Fjords of Northern Norway — in recent years the Lyngen Alps has become so popular that it’s getting to be as crowded as the Alps. A sailboat solves that problem. We will meet in Tromso, a town situated above the arctic circle and a perfect staging point for a sailing trip to get to the best that the Lyngen Alps has to offer, far from the road. From April 8-15 we will explore the countless glaciers and fjords of the coastal Lyngen Alps. We are offering an optional three days of land based ski touring April 5-8, a great way to get over jetlag and experience one of Norway’s most famous ski towns.

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Tom breaking trail in the Dogtooth Range near Golden, BC on a Guided Backcountry Day, January 2021. Photo: Ruth Wolfe

2024 and beyond

Other than Burnie Glacier Lodge, our 2023 backcountry ski lodge schedule is fully booked. We are booking 2024 and beyond and spots are filling quickly with trips beginning to sell out. Don’t worry, we still have lot of openings to some awesome lodges. But don’t delay — book your backcountry ski lodge today.

Selkirk Lodge – Staging out of Revelstoke, BC, this is one of the finest backcountry ski lodges in the world. //2024: Jan 13-20, Jan 20-27, April 13-20

Sunrise Lodge is the best of Golden, BC’s backcountry ski lodges for mid-winter skiing. Deep powder, great tree skiing, perfect from Dec to March  //2024: Jan 27-Feb 3

Vista Lodge – Golden BC’s best backcountry ski lodge for spring skiing, this area has outstanding north facing skiing that holds deep, stable, dry powder snow into May. //2024 March 30-April 6Burnie Glacier Chalet – Staging out of Smithers, BC, this is Tom’s favourite backcountry ski lodge. Newly renovated in 2022 with double occupancy rooms, and greatly expanded dining and common areas. A great early season powder destination with mild climate and deep snowpack, Burnie also has incredible ski mountaineering into May. //2024: Feb 16-23  / Feb 23-March 1

JaPOW – Japan has formed a legendary reputation for deep powder skiing in January and February. The saying “Don’t Leave Powder to Find Powder” is common in western Canada – why leave Canada when we have the best skiing in the world? Well, Japan is a strong contender, and when you add the incredible cultural experience to the mix it rises to the top of any serious skier’s bucket list. We will spend 5 days in the Japan Alps followed by another 5 days in Sapporo. //2024: Jan 26-Feb 9

Svalbard Ski & Sail – The west coast of Spitsbergen is protected by a long, thin island called Prins Karls Vorland, which protects an inner channel and allows straightforward sea access to dozens of fjords. The fjords harbour countless peaks rising 500 to 1000 m out of the sea, and offer outstanding ski touring opportunities. It is a land perfectly designed for skiing. Gaining access to these beautiful glaciated peaks is only possible by boat, as helicopter skiing is strictly forbidden in Svalbard. And a good thing, too: a sailing yacht is really the best way to visit this country, a tradition that has existed since whaling boats first made use of the area over 200 years ago. The s/v Noorderlicht, which we have chartered again this year, is also the best boat around for the job. At almost 50 m (150 ft) long it’s comfortable and stable and provides exceptional luxury with the classy lines of a gaff-rigged schooner. //2024: April 28-May 5, May 2-12, May 9-19.

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Ashley and her husband were both born and raised in Canmore. Today they still live and work in Canmore with their two children (pictured here at the Calgary Zoo with Ashely), Bella and Jackson.

Introducing Ashley

This spring we hired Ashley Toohey to manage Sawback’s office. The booking and payment process is now handled by Ashley, which frees Tom up to focus on the guiding operations in addition to specific enquiries relating to trips, gear, itineraries and so on. Thanks Ashley!

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I’m Back At It. After a hip replacement surgery last winter here’s a photo of me at the top of my first post-surgery ski run in Svalbard last spring. In case you’re wondering if I’m nuts: it was perfect, smooth, boot top powder top to bottom!

A note from Tom

It’s been a pretty wild  year. Last winter I had a hip replacement, and I was back on skis in May and June running trips in Svalbard and Iceland. My summer was spent guiding canoe trips: a 4-week trip on the Nahanni River (co-guiding with my son!) in the Northwest Territories, a bit of backyard guiding on the Red Deer River in July, 3 weeks on the Seal River in Manitoba, and a season finale on the Dumoine in Quebec and the Ottawa River in Ontario.

It was all made possible by Ashley, my new office manager. She hit the ground running and has done a fantastic job of responding to trip enquiries and registrations in my absence. This fall I’ve been enjoying connecting with clients in anticipation of a busy winter season.

I hope to see a few of you at the Banff Film Festival where I’ll be manning our booth at the Marketplace (click for details and location). I’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting ready for that and I’m pretty excited to kick off the ski season this way. If you are at the BFF make sure you drop by to say hello!

Find Out More
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57 Hours hosts some great webinars on the “Epic Adventures” series. This winter they featured our Hut to Hut traverses. Check it out by clicking on the YouTube video below. Let us know what you think!

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Tom Wolfe
Owner / Lead Guide Mountain Guide ACMG/IFMGA
Sawback Alpine Adventures
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