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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Eug, Or
    Posts
    150

    BC Heli-hut advice/etiquette/etc.

    So I got invited to join a group heading to Bill Putnam hut/Fairy Meadows this winter (Early March). Iím super stoked. Itís also my first time in a helicopter, or staying in a BC hut.

    Iím pretty experienced backcountry skier and have done a few local PNW hut trips. So I know what lessons Iíve learned from those trips. But this feels like a new frontier. Since I may not get another shot at this type of trip, I want to do it right.

    What did you learn on heli-hut trips in BC that youíd wish youíd known before hand? Clutch gear? Packing strategies? Group organization approaches? Drop some knowledge on me!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    cordova,AK
    Posts
    2,725
    don't carry your skis over your shoulder and don't walk behind the helicopter
    off your knees Louie

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Maine Coast
    Posts
    2,785
    Let folks know it is your first time and grab a front seat in the helicopter

    Bring a case of beer in cans if thatís your thing

    Pack small and duct tape boxes

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Posts
    231
    Try to not be "that guy" whose always in the fuckin way. You'll see. Quarters can be tight with allot of people trying to do the same thing at the same time. Don't leave your gear all strewn about. Some spatial awareness.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    1,240
    If you're with a big group of peeps who don't all know each other social dynamics can be weird. I've been on a trip where a group of 6 and a group of 12 never mixed up and it ended up being a partial junkshow with each group dealing with their own meals and not really sharing hut jobs. Huts are small and waiting for 12 asswipes to finish cooking so you can access the stove isn't ideal.

    These days the trip leader communicates early and sets expectations for a ton of stuff, especially food related. People arrange themselves in cook teams, sign up for meals to prepare (usually 1 breakfast 1 dinner 1 cocktail), and list what they plan on making on a shared document so people with allergies/restrictions can plan ahead. It turns into a competition for who can prepare the raddest dinner or make the best cocktail and we end up eating incredible food and only having to shop for and cook 2 huge meals per trip (we deal with our own lunches within a cook team). Peeps who aren't cooking team up for chores (water, shoveling, sauna firing, wood moving) or stay out of the way.
    Bring your food and beer from the US, it's way cheaper to do a Costco run down here than sell a kidney in Canadia to afford beer. You may need to fail to disclose certain veggies and fruits at the border. Ask a Canadian to fly in some weed and trade them cheese sticks for it (apparently they're a precious commodity up there)

    +1 on trying to snag a front seat in the heli, especially if it's your first time and the weather is shite. Get to the LZ in full ski attire, it's that much less shit you have to pack and the machine lands you'll be happy to be wearing helmets and google while trying to keep food boxes from flying away. I've never seen weight restrictions enforced in the heli despite the fact that you're always warned against bringing too much shit. Bring enough for comfort without going nuts. Also, there's no need for everyone to fly their own foam roller and theracane, that can be coordinated upfront and leaves more room for beer. Weight isn't as much of an issue as volume so consolidate things in taped boxes that stack well in the heli. Trash bags are your friend if it's snowing on the day you fly in and your boxes sit in the snow for 4 hours while you wait for the heli rotation. Delays flying in and out are a real possibility, it's nice to have a plan if that happens. We got stuck @ Kokanee a few years ago and stayed an extra night with nothing to eat but puzzle pieces and whisky.

    Dryer room etiquette is tough in smaller yurts and some people get real tense about it. I'm usually one of the last ones in so my shit ends up far from the stove. Turns out it dries OK even without sitting 1" away form it, I just check on it regularly and rotate stuff around (and occasionally encourage peeps whose gloves and liners are reaching metling point to kindly make a bit of space).
    Everyone wants to hang out in the sauna. Thou shalt not dwell in there for unreasonable amounts of time wile others are frothing at the mouth to get in. The same is true for the pooper. If you have to piss outside (most huts) go to the dedicated pee holes, even if it's the middle of the night and it's cold and snowy. We had a bro repeatedly piss of the back deck years ago, basically straight into the lake we were drawing water from. Not classy.

    Dig pits on D1 and figure out what's dwelling in the basement. New snowpacks are scary and intuition isn't going to do you any good when you're 1000 miles from your home range. First couple of days are good to familiarize yourself with the snow and terrain and poke around on shorter tours before getting riled up and going for bigger days into the alpine (assuming the opportunity presents itself). Most people don't usually have legs for 7 big days and it's a bummer when the weather clears up for the last 2 days and you legs feel like pieces of wood in the morning cause you've been too greedy.

    I'm heading to FM in a couple of weeks. I may have more specific stuff to say about the place when I get back.

    PS: don't try to make hashbrowns for 20 people.
    Last edited by Boissal; 12-27-2019 at 04:25 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Methow Valley
    Posts
    855
    Boissal has some good points. To add on here are some other random thoughts. If you're a faster skinner or at transitions bring a thermos, it's great having warm drinks while you wait for the slowpokes. Bring earplugs. Make a plan for keeping the fire going through the night, it sucks waking up to a cold hut. If your group is going to be breaking up into smaller groups bring some radios and have a bit of a check in plan between the two groups.

    A big jug of hand sanitizer is a good idea, as well as bleaching the counters & other obvious places upon arrival, god knows what sickness the group had before you. Also try to have a system with snacks/meals where serving utensils are used rather than everyone reaching their hands into the chip/trail mix bag and spreading sickness that way. I've had a couple friends go on hut trips where there was some sort of norovirus that made it's way through the entire group over the week at the hut. Thus I'm pretty gun shy about getting sick on my trips.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Location
    Jasper, AB
    Posts
    16
    you'll get a briefing on helicopter safety - do the pilot a favour and actually listen- they'll take you through where to walk, how to close doors, etc. don't rush around the machine at any time, just take a breath. snap your pictures when appropriate, not right in the middle of loading/unloading.

    you already know from your other hut trips that you don't need to pack a new shirt for every day. chances are you'll wear the same shirt 3-4 days so a change plus a sock change mid week is nice. Bring slippers/flip flops for the hut and comfy lounge clothes (sweat pants, t-shirt). boxes of wine are great for filling the extra space in the heli compartments. +1 on cans of beer. check with the group, they may have lined up some pony kegs of beer which transport well in the basket.

    +1 earplugs are a must. eye mask optional. repair kit for your own touring setup. otherwise have a blast and stay safe out there!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    1,240
    Quote Originally Posted by John_B View Post
    Boissal has some good points. To add on here are some other random thoughts. If you're a faster skinner or at transitions bring a thermos, it's great having warm drinks while you wait for the slowpokes. Bring earplugs. Make a plan for keeping the fire going through the night, it sucks waking up to a cold hut. If your group is going to be breaking up into smaller groups bring some radios and have a bit of a check in plan between the two groups.

    A big jug of hand sanitizer is a good idea, as well as bleaching the counters & other obvious places upon arrival, god knows what sickness the group had before you. Also try to have a system with snacks/meals where serving utensils are used rather than everyone reaching their hands into the chip/trail mix bag and spreading sickness that way. I've had a couple friends go on hut trips where there was some sort of norovirus that made it's way through the entire group over the week at the hut. Thus I'm pretty gun shy about getting sick on my trips.
    Very true on the sanitation stuff. Half the hut puking and shitting their guts out would make for a memorable trip... If you're not a sauna person baby wipes will save you from ripening like an old cheese wheel.

    In the same vein, having someone with medical training and a decent first aid kit is a must. Obviously if shit hits the fan it's not going to be enough but it can allow a minor injury to not completely ruin a trip. I've seen trip-ending frostbite and knee explosions and it's great to have someone on board who can properly assess/treat those as well as can be (or make a fully educated decision to call for help).

    it bears repeating that earplugs are an absolute must, there always seem to be a couple of snoring ogres on these trips. Bring a sleeping bag, even if the place provides comforters. I had a very cold trip in a very fancy hut some years back because I'm a complacent idiot. On the other end bring shorts & flip flops for sure. It's usually in the mid 80s at dinner time and your merino bodysuit + 800-fill down booties will turn into a personal sauna.
    I've given up on bringing a repair kit for skis. I just fly in 2 pairs of skis and if I explode a binding I switch. I have some random boot parts with me and hope I'm not braking anything too critical.

    On top of keeping the fire alive try to always have some water heated up. Waiting 20 minutes for a giant kettle to start whistling is annoying when you want to get going and some people will murder you before they've had their coffee. Also, figure out when people want to get going and if it's your turn to cook breakfast get up as early as needed to accommodate the group. Sure it's a vacation, but I'll beat you with a whippet if you make me wait an extra hour in the morning cause you want to sleep in.

    +1 on ski groups having at the very least a loose plan and a way to communicate. We always break into groups or 3 to 6 to minimize sketch factor and it's nice to have an idea of who's going where, especially as it's getting late in the day and people are still out. If you decide to wander on the ice make sure people you're with have an idea of what they're doing. You're not going to learn how to use your Petzl crevasse rescue kit when someone has punched through a snowbridge and is dangling at the other end of the rope.

    Finally, and how could I forget: PILLOWS. They're everywhere and they're the greatest thing in the world. They might not be as exciting to you since you're from the PNW but pillows don't grow in the Wasatch. As a rule, they ALL HAVE TO BE SKIED.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    A LSD Steakhouse somewhere in the Wasatch
    Posts
    11,068
    Real boolze and weeds pack better than brewskis
    Carry your share of hut chores
    Stoke the sauna if your home 1st
    Bring extra to share
    Cept attitude
    Bestow random acts of kindness upon others
    And hope ullr bestows his goodness upon you
    If it doesn't happen start doing it every year
    #crustcampshappen
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    "THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -
    ski on in eternal peace

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    1,226
    Good advice so far. Having booties/hut shoes is huge. Communication is another big thing in regards to food/dishes, terrain, and just common decency. Everybody can have different interpretations on various situations.

    As far as food our groups usually do the split for dinners and people can do own snack and we typically do cold breakfasts or individual. Unless somebody likes dishes(not many I've met) one big thing we've done is make our own premade/frozen and vacuum sealed meals like enchiladas etc. That way you're only boiling the meal and cutting down on dishes significantly.

    Most importantly just have fun!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Eug, Or
    Posts
    150
    Thanks all for your replies! This is exactly the stuff Iím looking for. Glad to get these tidbits to hopefully be well prepared.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    The land of lot's of houses, CO
    Posts
    260
    2nd on the premade meals, started doing more of those on river trips and it is so nice to not have the dishes and prep.

    Pre smoked brisket, enchiladas, lasagna, etc.



    Sent from my iPad using TGR Forums

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Sandy
    Posts
    1,519
    Some solid tips in here. I'm going on a trip in March and the trip leader is being so laid back that nothing is getting done. I really don't want to step up and be the guy but maybe it will have to be done. I dig the pre-made meal idea, had never really thought of that. Dishes do indeed suck

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    DownEast
    Posts
    486
    +3 on premade meals. Make a lasagne (or 2), freeze it, use them as blocks of ice in the cooler, on day 3 when they are thawed heat and eat. Works a charm on sailboat deliveries and river trips.

    Oh, and never travel anywhere without a deck of cards.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    18,995
    Having a cook who does all the food including the buying is WAY better, no waste no hassles so you can concentrate on just drinking & eating

    For booze I would buy 4x 6 packs of cans & tape them between s couple of cardboard flats, also buy a 26 er of hard liquor

    Don't pack too much clothiing

    Some huts have hut shoes there for going out to the

    The pilot prefers you to pack in smaller bags or box's that fit more easily in the chopper

    If you are going with a guide they should have a list of what you need, if a guide is doing all the logistics I need about 1/2 a days notice and I'm good to go
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    867
    For FM in particular, the bunk room can be both sweltering and frigid in the same night. Be versatile.

    Like others said, donít let the weight limit scare hold you back on booze.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    North Vancouver/Whistler
    Posts
    11,433
    I set up a web page for a 10 person group when going to FM. You can use this as a guideline for your own trip

    http://www.leelau.net/2007/fairymead...ipprephink.htm

    When I booked the entire FM and filled it we got a cook for the entire group and used that same webpage but added newer maps.

    Other stuff off the top of my head

    - I got permission to call Chatter Creek to give obs, get their obs and get wx info

    - At the heli pad I made sure to have a tarp for group bags. The ground there can get dirty at our end of March timeframe

    - At heli pad I made sure to have a full size shovel to dig out parking spots as cars can get buried after a week

    - As we were dovetailing a self -guided ACC group coming out and they are a notorious hazardous gongshow I pre arranged with Alpine Heli to have two of our experienced group manage loading/unloading and got the exciting group to stand aside

    - I pre-arranged hut chores signup via Google docs

    All of this took time but made life easier for the week.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Eug, Or
    Posts
    150
    Wow. Again, thank everyone!!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    closer
    Posts
    2,837
    Do not masturbate in the Heli.

    Sent from my BLA-L29 using TGR Forums mobile app
    It's a war of the mind and we're armed to the teeth.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    4,608
    There is so much good advice in this thread that it hard to add more. X4 on earplugs for sure - bring an extra pair for someone who forgets them.

    This is just a general BC skiing item but my touring group uses radios to communicate and Iíve found those very useful for keeping track of everyone when below treeline on BC hut trips.

    If/when you are on a trip with people you donít know, go out of your way to take advantage of the opportunity to get to know someone you wouldnít otherwise meet. Iíve made friends from across the country this way - itís the hidden boon of hut trips. Donít expend any mental/physical energy trying to impress anyone while skiing. After 7 days, everyone will be acutely aware of what each person is capable of. Everyone has different fitness/ability and thatís fine. Do not make assumptions about anyoneís fitness or ability. Imagine my surprise when the group from Ontario skis extremely well and is very fast in the skin track - or that the guy from Houston is a triathlete whoís been on 20 hut trips.

    Most of all - have fun!

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    12,837
    Dumb question RE: Skins

    2 sets?
    Ooof!

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    A LSD Steakhouse somewhere in the Wasatch
    Posts
    11,068
    don't bother petitioning the lord with prayer
    do zip your pants
    ski fast huck off shit



    make shane proud
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    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    "THIS IS WHAT WE DO"-AML -
    ski on in eternal peace

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    tetons
    Posts
    6,903
    -earplugs have been said but are so essential I'll mention again
    -hut shoes- crocs or something
    -brought a small keg with us to FM rather than the cans
    -Get the cook if you can talk the group into it- with a lg group it's not that much more each and they do all the grocery shopping, you have warm hot coco when you get back from skiing etc. #priceless
    -If not getting the cook, set hut chores list at the beginning for each day- cooking, dishes- that way everyone knows their schedule- "oh tomorrow I'm on breakfast dishes so I need to get my gear together tonight"
    -We were told not to leave a bunch of extra gear in our vehicles in the parking lot as there was some theft/ break ins happening in the lot while skiers were at the hut
    Have fun!
    skid luxury

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    North Vancouver/Whistler
    Posts
    11,433
    Some FM-specific advice

    - there's not a pile of tree skiing so be smart with what you have. Ie ski it on gray bird and tour high on bluebird

    - the glaciers have changed a lot in the past 10 years so don't rely on old tracks

    - there's a lot more time in March to explore but even so we set our hut time at Mountain Standard to sync with heli Ops and Chatter Creek.

    - Dial you glacier travel protocol in before you get there as it's a bit hectic usually to practise while there

    - There are always pine martens and they get into anything everywhere

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    357
    Don't leave your beer to cool on the deck at Fairy Meadows

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    unless you want to slake the sneaky weasel's thirst

    If going again I would take down hut booties AND some lightweight shoes for walking outside.

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