superb spring skiing in the esplanades, selkirk mountains
2024 // March 30-April 6 (10 spots)
Close to Golden, British Columbia, nestled in the Esplanade Range just east of Rogers Pass is a string of perfectly situated ski chalets: Golden Alpine Holidays. Vista Lodge is the furthest north of the “original three” built by Alison Dakin and Brad Harrison back in the 1990s.
Vista lodge is set in the middle of a beautiful alpine meadow at the edge of Vista Lake near the source of Schlicting Creek. Vista has five drainages to ski offering a myriad of terrain choices. Vista is also the portal to the big alpine zones off Cherub Glacier to the west. Strategically located at the center of the Esplanade Range combo’d with it’s epic Alpine runs, Vista is famous for its ridiculous spring skiing. It’s a two-story building that sleeps up 12 guests plus guides and a professional chef.
Fantastic skiing, close to home
One of the best features of Vista 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, Vista 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.
- Guided and Catered Occupancy: 12 people + GAH staff
- Elevation: 7050 ft / 2150m
- Building: 2 story wood frame with separate Sauna building
- Bedrooms: 7 rooms with dual occupancy + staff quarters
- Bathrooms: Two outhouses
- Heat: Wood & propane
- Water Source: Vista Lake
- Power Source: Solar, generator & propane lights
- Communication: Radio and limited cell coverage
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.
2022 DATES: SOLD OUT
2024 DATES: March 30-April 6 (GV24)
PRICE: $2,995 CAD (About $2,388 USD / €2,420 / £2,111) + 5% GST
DEPOSIT: $500 payment secures your booking. Remainder of 50% deposit is due 1 Jan the year before your trip. Balance of payment is due 90 days in advance of the trip start date. See Payment and Booking Conditions tab for details.
DIFFICULTY: Classic and Relaxed Pace options available
INCLUDED: Guiding, professional cook, meals, helicopter transfers
NOT INCLUDED: Transportation to Golden & the staging area; alcoholic beverages (BYOB); gratuitites
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.
Basecamp Golden (formerly 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 are really affordable. Sawback clients get a discount but in order to get that you must book with 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 Friday night and breakfast is offered there Saturday morning so it is convenient. If you choose to stay here please book early. It fills quickly. The code is BCAMPTOUR & offers between 15 & 25% off the nightly rate depending on the season. To book guests can use the code at basecampresorts.com & it is valid at all Basecamp propreties in Canmore, Golden & Revelstoke.
The meeting place for your trip is at the Golden Alpine Holidays office at 104, 806 – 9th Street North. Your meeting time is Saturday morning 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 their helicopter staging Facility west of Golden. Guests are required to get themselves to GAH Staging.
9:00 AM: Meet to sign waivers.
9:30 AM: Depart for GAH’s helicopter staging facility. Please ensure you have at least a half tank of gas.
- Please be dressed to ski with ski boots ready to put on at staging.
Staging – Inbound:
- There is parking available at the staging area, however this is not a secured parking area.
- Please do not leave valuable items in your vehicle. Another alternative is to park your vehicle
in town and take a taxi to staging. Contact Mount 7 taxi at 250-344-5237 for more
- All groups must arrive there by 10:15am
Staging – Outbound:
- Flights are scheduled to begin around 11 am.
- All clients are recommended to give themselves an extra day’s grace post-trip in case bad weather
- Relaxed and Classic Pace options
- 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
- 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)
- Probe (2.4m or longer preferred)
- Skis or split board
- Ski strap
- Ski or snowboard boots
- Climbing skins
- Skin wax (or a candle)
- Ski crampons (mandatory)
- Binding repair kit to fix your personal travel setup
- Ski helmet (optional)
- 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)
- 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
- Beer, wine, liquor
Group Gear (supplied by the guides)
- Map and compass
- 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
Our Booking Form takes a few seconds to complete. We will then contact you to discuss your trip and answer any questions you might have. This is your opportunity to figure out for sure if this trip is for you, without obligation. To secure your booking you must complete our Online Waiver and Application Forms and pay your deposit.
Final payment is due 3 months in advance of your trip start date unless otherwise indicated. Please note that deposits are absolutely non-refundable, and final payments are non-refundable after the final payment date.
All of our trips are priced in Canadian Dollars. The approximate exchange rate is given for your convenience on each trip information page.
You will receive your invoice via Flywire, our online payment and foreign exchange service, after we review your booking application.
Foreign clients: You will have various options of payment by credit card or bank transfer and the exact rates you will be charged in your local currency will be listed. These rates are competitive and offer good value compared with other options like bank transfers. There is no additional fee for credit card payments as this is wrapped into the rate offered (hence the higher cost of credit card payments).
Canadian clients: Flywire provides Canadian clients options to pay via bank transfer or an online banking portal. If your bank is not in the list of options, you can use your bank online banking to send an E-transfer to email@example.com. If you prefer to pay by credit card in CAD indicate this on your Application Form. We charge a 3% processing fee for CAD card payments.
Booking Conditions Fine Print
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. You are required to complete our waiver and application forms during the booking process. You will be sent an invoice via our invoicing system, Flywire which provides all payment options available except Interac e-transfers. Flywire also provides foreign currency rates for the various payment options so you can pay in your local currency. If you wish to pay in CAD by E-transfer send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org. Final payments are due 90 days before your trip starts. CONFIRMATION / TRIP INFORMATION: Upon receipt of this registration form we confirm your booking and you agree to pay your deposit within 7 days. Each trip we offer has a detailed trip information page (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 you complete your registration, 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 will 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. We strongly urge you to read our Insurance Information page carefully before booking your trip. CANCELLATIONS: If you need to cancel a reservation, please do so in writing (best by e-mail). 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 or venue 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. We will not be deemed to be in default for any delay or failure to perform our obligations under this Agreement resulting from acts of God, the elements, war, acts of government, civil or military authorities, natural calamities, catastrophe, fire, flood, accidents, epidemics, shortage of transportation, or any other like events beyond our reasonable control. 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.
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. Spring skiing extends into May with the Vista being the very best of the lodges for epic spring shredding.
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
Here’s a link to a blog about a recent trip to Sunrise Lodge to give you a better idea of what to expect:
Numerous feature length movies and media projects have been shot over the past few years at Golden Alpine Holidays. Here are some samples:
- https://vimeo.com/187076140 Smith Female Athletes Rachael Burks, Amie Engerbretson and Hadley Hammer at Sunrise Lodge 2016
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5Vc9-sNigg Slaying Pillows Teton Gravity
- http://skimovie.com/msp-sentry-lodge-gallery/ Matchstick Media shoot 2016
- https://vimeo.com/108679294 Sweetgrass Productions “Afterglow”
- https://vimeo.com/138346245 “Shaping Skiing” by 4FRNT Skis
- https://vimeo.com/31047821 Freeride Touring Helmet Cam Video
- https://vimeo.com/83625080 Golden Alpine Holidays Freeride Camps
- https://vimeo.com/33038392 “Attack of La Nina” Athlete Extra-Eric Hjorleifson
- https://vimeo.com/55307324 Sweetgrass Productions “Valhalla Trailer 1”
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYvM6j56IBk Eric Hjorleifson “The way I see it”
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDpbVOyxKEI “The Big Mountain Tour-Sunrise Lodge, Canada” by Volkl Skis International
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 Vista 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.