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  1. #1
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    BC Backcountry Lodge Review

    A candid BC Backcountry Ski Touring lodge review.

    There are lots of trip reports about backcountry lodge trips in BC you can check out online, but there aren't many comprehensive backcountry lodge reviews to be found. Eventually, I'd like to visit most of the lodges in BC as many of them are well positioned for a week of ski touring. However they all are different and each offer their own particular flavour.

    Over the years, Iíve had the pleasure of working at numerous backcountry ski touring lodges in British Columbia. This BC backcountry lodge review aims to give you an idea of the terrain, the level of comfort at the lodges and the overall experience Iíve had at the respective lodges Iíve visited.

    Lodges are listed in alphabetical order. Scoring is 1-5.

    BACKCOUNTRY SKI TOURING LODGE REVIEW

    Burnie Glacier Chalet


    The Burnie Glacier Chalet is perched on the east side of the Howson Range, southwest of Smithers, BC. The lodge sleeps 10 guests two guides and a cook. Smaller sized groups and smaller guest to guide ratios are one of the perks about this lodge. The terrain is also incredible- big glaciated terrain with ample opportunities to do really nice circuits is a highlight. The lodge has a fantastic sauna, private rooms and running water. The toilets are well designed outhouses which are a short walk from the lodge.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 5
    Terrain 5
    Value 5

    Golden Alpine Holidays

    Meadow Lodge
    Situated at treeline (2200m) in the heart of the Esplanade Range, the Meadow Hut is well positioned for a mix of storm skiing and alpine adventure.
    The lodge doesnít have wifi and is a bit on the rustic side, as there are no comfy couches, just a large table and private roomsóbut hey, what more do you need? The kitchen is well appointed and the overall layout of the lodge is well thought out. Youíll also have to haul your water. Thereís a drying room with plenty of space and the main part of the lodge is heated with wood. It also comes with a caretaker to keep the lodge on the up and up, so you can focus on the skiing and splitboarding. Guests clean off in a wood fired sauna and use outhouses for answering natureís call.
    There are a couple of downsides to Meadow. The first is that most of the storm skiing is down valley and there is significant exposure to overhead hazard on your way back to the lodge. The second is stronger groups may run out of terrain over the course of a week.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 3.5
    Terrain 3.5
    Value 4
    Cupola Mountain above Meadow LodgeSentry Lodge
    Sentry Lodge is Golden Alpine Holidaysí flagship. It has the most terrain and the nicest accommodations of all the GAH lodges. Placed at treeline, it is easy to tour out the door in any conditions. Sentry features flush toilets, hot showers, running water, a spacious living room, private rooms, a dining area, a stretching space, wifi and a wood fired sauna. The terrain at Sentry is expansive and offers both storm skiing and alpine adventure. You wonít run out of terrain over the course of your week.
    A caretaker is also included in the package so you can focus on the riding. There arenít many downsides to Sentry Lodge except for the lack of glaciated terrain, thus if your seeking out big glaciated alpine terrain, this isnít the lodge for you.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 5
    Terrain 4
    Value 4.5
    Esplanade Powder
    Icefall LodgeIf youíre looking for big glaciated alpine terrain in the Canadian Rockies, look not further, Icefall Lodge is it. Youíll feel small at Icefall, very small.
    The lodge is big and well thought out. However it is definitely on the rustic sideóthe cool part is a fair bit of the material was sourced from trees onsite. The lodge is powered by micro hydro and there are private rooms, plenty of space, outhouses, stretching areas and a sizeable kitchen/dining area, which also doubles as the hangout zone. The drying room is substantial with a separate boot/clothes drying room.
    The downside to Icefall is the severity of its terrain. If you happen to go there during a significant storm cycle, you will feel hemmed in due to exposure to complex avalanche terrain. The lodge is also built to house large groups, so if youíre looking for a small group experience, be ready to ante up for a large per person cost or look for another lodge.
    A new feature Icefall has added is the Icefall Traverse, a hut to hut horseshoe that takes you through some amazing terrain. The tour starts at the Mons Hut and travels across the Lyell Icefield to the Alexandra Cabin, up and over a col to Icefall Lodge and then onto the Rostrum Cabin.
    Inside and outside the Lyell Hut
    Itís an amazing trip, I guided two trips last year and really enjoyed it. There are some operational pressures, as groups start every day; last year Icefall ran 19 trips back to back. Thus there is no waiting out a storm option to move when it clears up. Thatís a bit of a bummer as groups may have to skip going to the Alexandra Cabin if the weather doesnít cooperate. Last spring was quite stormy and we did most of the trip in a whiteout both times.


    Overall Score
    Accommodations 4
    Terrain 5 (good stability) 2.5 (poor stability)
    Value 4
    Topping out on Mt. Kemmel


    Ice Creek Lodge

    Positioned just outside of Valhalla Provincial Park at 1860m, Ice Creek Lodge is in some of the biggest terrain the Kootenays have to offer. Its still the Kootenays though, so the early season snowpack is thin (mid January) and by March you can expect elevated freezing levels and variable conditions. The good thing is the home drainage has primarily north aspect terrain.
    The lodge is set up for eight to ten close friends. Itís rustic, bunkhouse style living, with a dormitory sleeping loft and limited hangout space. The main lodge is heated with a wood stove and there is a small drying room that serves as the entryway to the lodge. Thereís intermittent, limited, slow wifi, running water at a hand wash station, a rustic bucket shower, outhouses and a rustic wood fired sauna.
    Thereís plenty of alpine terrain to keep a strong group with good stability busy. However thereís limited amounts of tree skiing and storm skiing. The Valhallas are also a bit short on glaciated terrain, so if youíre seeking out big glaciated terrain, youíll want to look elsewhere. The price of this lodge is similar to lodges with much nicer accommodations and similar terrain.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 3
    Terrain 4
    Value 3.5
    Valhalla Powder

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    Purcell Mountain Lodge

    Located on the Eastern boundary of Glacier National Park, Purcell Mountain Lodge provides guests with unparalleled views of Mt Sir Donald. Itís lodge is super plush too, with private rooms, wifi, running water, showers, sauna, a nice dining and living room area. Thereís also a drying room and a smaller lodge for smaller groups. Lots of emphasis on comfort at PML.
    The skiing is quite mellow and the terrain is suitable for nordic skiers and snowshoers too. Stronger groups can access bigger terrain, but it is a long walk to get there. PML is a great place to go if youíre looking for a soft entrance into backcountry lodge trips. They also offer three, four and seven day trips.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 5
    Terrain 3
    Value 4


    Sol Mountain Lodge

    You wonít find nicer hosts. Aaron and Sabine Cooperman started this family business in the early 2000ís and have been full steam ahead ever since. Sol is a year-round full service backcountry lodge that offers skiing and splitboarding in the winter and hiking and mountain biking in the summer.
    The lodge is situated at approximately 1900m in the Southern Monashees, an area know for prolific snowfalls. Height of snow in April has been measured at over five meters. The lodge is super comfortable with private rooms, flush toilets, hot showers, plenty of hang out space, dining area, a drying room, stretching space, wifi and a wood fired sauna. The lodge is set up to house a large group or multiple small groups with multiple guides. If youíre looking for a lodge to transition into backcountry lodge life, Sol makes for a nice starting point with approachable terrain and the all the comforts of home.
    It does lack big alpine terrain, so if thatís what youíre after, you should look elsewhere. However Sol offers lots of different aspects to ski and excellent Monashee powder skiing. The tree skiing is all time! At times youíll find yourself walking on the flats to get to the different zones. Sol also runs shorter trips, so if you donít have a full week for a lodge trip itís a great option.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 5
    Terrain 3.5
    Value 4.5


    Selkirk LodgePerched on a ridge at treeline, Selkirk Lodge faces the Justice glacier. Honestly, its one of the nicest backcountry lodges out there. The systems are dialed, the Devineís are incredible hosts and the terrain is great.
    It does share terrain with Selkirk Tangiers Heliskiing, so there is helicopter traffic in the area. If you go in April, Tangiers is closed and the snowpack has had a chance to settle out, making for better travel conditions. One of the fun aspects about Selkirk Lodge is the variety of loop tours you can do. The terrain is huge too, which adds an amazing element to this lodge. A week of storm skiing or high hazard would be challenging at Selkirk Lodge as a lot of its prime terrain is the expansive alpine surrounding the lodge.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 5
    Terrain 5
    Value 5


    Sorcerer LodgeLocated at treeline in the Northern Selkirks, Sorcerer Lodge has some great terrain. However the biggest downside is that it shareís its tenure with Great Canadian Heli Skiing. Not only will you see and hear helicopters and heli skiers, but youíll also share runs such as the Perfect Glacier with them.
    The lodge itself is reasonably comfortable with a new addition last year, a sauna private rooms and dinning and hangout space. Thereís also a drying room and outhouses. It can sleep nearly 18 guests, so itís not the place for those who are seeking a small group experience.
    The upside is it has some expansive glaciated terrain, avalanche path skiing, some storm skiing directly below the hut, numerous drainages and aspects to explore. Ventigo Creek is also a bit of a cooler, thus you can find great skiing at Sorcerer well into late April.
    While Great Canadian Heli Skiing is operating, the serenity most backcountry lodge guests seek is adversely affected; thus if youíre looking for a quote backcountry lodge experience at Sorcerer, picking a week in April after Great Canadian Heli Skiing is closed is your best option.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 4
    Terrain 4.75 (2.5 when Great Canadian is operating near by.)
    Value 4

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    Valkyr Adventures

    Hilda HutPerched at 1900m in the Valkyr Range in the Southern Selkirks, Hilda Hut provides guests with great mid-winter skiing. Itís also quite comfortable. The cedar log chalet design is well laid out with private rooms and plenty of hangout space. Hilda Hut has a wood fired sauna, running water, hot showers, flush toilets, wifi (available with an additional charge) a drying room, a comfortable dining area and nice couches. The terrain at Hilda is great, there are multiple drainages to explore with a nice mix of Kootenay alpine, tree skiing and avalanche paths. During a storm cycle you can feel a bit hemmed in if you canít make it out of the home drainage. Situated in the Kootenays it can suffer from a thin early season snowpack, elevated freezing levels and an abbreviated season. By early March it looses a lot of the epic powder skiing runs due to aspect orientation and latitude. It is also devoid of glaciated terrain. In terms of mid-winter pow smashing venues, itís hard to beat.
    Overall ScoreAccommodations 5Terrain 4Value 4.5LQ OutpostThe LQ Outpost is located at a treeline pass in the Valkyr Range. It has some of the best lodge based tree skiing in the Kootenays. Itís also quite comfortable with running water, hot showers, flush toilets, a sauna, private rooms plenty of drying space, a large living room, dinner table and wifi (available with an additional charge). There are also numerous drainages to explore, however you need good stability to access the western half of the tenure. Keep in mind the LQ Outpost is located in the Kootenays and can suffer from a thin early season snowpack, elevated freezing levels and an abbreviated season. By early March it looses a lot of the epic powder skiing runs due to aspect orientation and latitude. It is also devoid of glaciated terrain. In terms of mid-winter pow smashing venues, itís hard to beat.
    Overall ScoreAccommodations 5Terrain 4Value 4.5Namulten LodgeNamulten Lodge was the first of the three Valkyr lodges and is the western most lodge in the Valkyr Range. Itís a similar design to the other two and is quite comfortable and features with running water, hot showers, flush toilets, a sauna, private rooms plenty of drying space, a large living room, dinner table and wifi (available with an additional charge). There are also numerous drainages to explore, however the terrain is for the most part, quite mellow. You also have to walk a long way to get to the better skiing/bigger terrain. Itís located in the Kootenays and can suffer from a thin early season snowpack, elevated freezing levels and an abbreviated season. By early March it looses a lot of the epic powder skiing runs due to aspect orientation and latitude. It is also devoid of glaciated terrain. Namulten Lodge is a great place for those who seek a comfortable backcountry lodge experience in a beautiful setting with mellow terrain.
    Overall Score
    Accommodations 5Terrain 3.5Value 4


    Valhalla Mountain Touring

    Located in the Ruby Range at the north End of the Valhallas, Valhalla Mountain Touring provides a comfortable ski and splitboard experience. The terrain is typical Kootenay terrain with a mix of alpine, treeline and below treeline skiing and riding. It has a variety of drainages and aspects to explore. Itís located in the Kootenays and can suffer from a thin early season snowpack, elevated freezing levels and an abbreviated season. By early March it looses a lot of the powder runs due to aspect orientation and latitude. It is also devoid of glaciated terrain. The lodge is quite comfortable with a wood fired sauna, running water, hot showers, flush toilets, wifi, a drying room, a comfortable dining area and nice couches. It is a large group experience with up to fourteen guests per week. One of the bonuses of VMT is that is is accessed by a snow cat, so you donít have to pack light.
    Overall Score Accommodations 5Terrain 3.75Value 4Thanks for reading our BC Backcountry Lodge Review. Please feel free to drop a line about all things backcountry.


  4. #4
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    nice work

  5. #5
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    Wow, this is really interesting. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    This is super useful, thank you!

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  7. #7
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    While a guide to backcountry lodges is welcome, a bunch of "subjective reviews" by a guide who commercially guides out of these lodges sounds a lot like advertising to me.

    I appreciate stoke and providing information for folks, don't get me wrong. But, caveat your reviews by letting people know these are lodges that you (and your fellow guides) provide paid guiding services.
    ďI tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.Ē
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyfromterrace View Post
    While a guide to backcountry lodges is welcome, a bunch of "subjective reviews" by a guide who commercially guides out of these lodges sounds a lot like advertising to me.

    I appreciate stoke and providing information for folks, don't get me wrong. But, caveat your reviews by letting people know these are lodges that you (and your fellow guides) provide paid guiding services.
    I get the hesitation BUT I've been to almost all these lodges self-guided and imo Conor nailed the descriptions and ratings.

    On some of them I'd be a little harder and some of them I'd be a little more generous.

    Having said that, there's Conors' review, Zenith Guides (Evans) review and my TRs. I'd say all of that should give people enough data points if they do their own homework in addition.

    Edit. Also added that Conor guides out of these huts but just like me or any other plebian he has to rent the lodgespace from the owners just like anyone else

  9. #9
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    Don't disagree Lee. However, you don't get paid to take people into these lodges and guide them therefore your previous reviews/trip reports (and mine of Burnie, Battle Abbey, LFH's Ripley Cr Stewart operation and anywhere else I've posted about) are completely objective.

    edit - I think the word I wanted to use was Objective (in the case of you or me), in other words we aren't swayed by any other motives as we have no skin in the game.
    ďI tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.Ē
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyfromterrace View Post
    Don't disagree Lee. However, you don't get paid to take people into these lodges and guide them therefore your previous reviews/trip reports (and mine of Burnie, Battle Abbey, LFH's Ripley Cr Stewart operation and anywhere else I've posted about) are completely objective.

    edit - I think the word I wanted to use was Objective (in the case of you or me), in other words we aren't swayed by any other motives as we have no skin in the game.
    Yeah.. I just crave powl like an addict. Fair point

  11. #11
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    The guide/ the weather/ the snow/ your group could all contribute to your opinion of a BC lodge in BC but the big one is the weather/ snow cuz its hard to forecast a year ahead of time
    Last edited by XXX-er; 09-23-2023 at 03:50 PM.
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

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    Cool thread. And while I understand Gary's point and am sensitive to spam, look at the username, he's not hiding that he's a guide, but he's also not blatantly advertising. And the content is $$$.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyfromterrace View Post
    While a guide to backcountry lodges is welcome, a bunch of "subjective reviews" by a guide who commercially guides out of these lodges sounds a lot like advertising to me.

    I appreciate stoke and providing information for folks, don't get me wrong. But, caveat your reviews by letting people know these are lodges that you (and your fellow guides) provide paid guiding services.
    I hear you Gary; however just about any review you read is going to be subject to some level of commercial influence. I've tried to be as objective as possible in these reviews. As Lee mentioned, I, just like you, am a consumer of these lodge weeks; I go to the ones I like and avoid the ones I don't like. I did my best to shoot straight and convey my objective thoughts about the lodges I reviewed.

    The marketing game for small business owners is a funny one. I've chosen to engage with people by providing free information about the snowpack with my "Rogers Pass Backcountry Conditions Reports", introduce my style of adventure through trip reports and finally, provide thoughtful product reviews. My intention is to develop a relationship with people through providing pertinent content that has value for our backcountry community. Call it marketing if you will, but personally, I feel the posts I have contributed to this forum are positive contributions and tread carefully on the advertising line.

    I am sorry if that rubs you the wrong way.

  14. #14
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    I think ever one would have liked to see pictures of the seats in the well designed out house at burnie, I don't know where ze guide got those but i never seen them anywhere else
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    Cool thread. And while I understand Gary's point and am sensitive to spam, look at the username, he's not hiding that he's a guide, but he's also not blatantly advertising. And the content is $$$.
    Danno, I hear you. It says in his username that he is a guide. But I also see that any objective review by him has potential to be skewed for financial gain. Do you think that he'd rate the terrain a "1" if he and his group got skunked for a week in a lodge he was guiding out of because of a breakable crust that was everywhere? How bout rating the cooking a "2" if the lunches were crappy at a lodge that he was selling seats to. Hopefully not, but seriously if it's your living you'd be more likely to give the ratings a break.

    He wants to write a TR for every lodge he guides out of (or visits for that matter, that would be more in keeping with a TGR TR), fly at it. It's the rating them all that I have an issue with. Which ones does he guide out of, which ones did he just visit as a paying customer - I don't know, but I'd like to. I think rating one that he guides out of regularly vs. ones he just visits has the potential to be skewed.

    How bout he just doesn't rate them then?

    Hey Arctos, I'm not looking for an argument here. I'm also not an OG 20,00 post mag who's been here since the days of powder mag forums. BUT, this is TGR and you need to have thick skin here and like your good friends, if someone sees something that doesn't sit perfectly well with them they WILL speak up and let you know about it. I do not wish you any ill will at all, but you have been here for 2 years and have 32 posts. You are new here and have taken no shit from anyone on the forum that I know of. So, Welcome!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post
    I hear you Gary; however just about any review you read is going to be subject to some level of commercial influence. I've tried to be as objective as possible in these reviews.
    Firstly, this statement is untrue if you are a lowly skier going to a lodge for a trip (like me, or any other regular joe) and paying for said hut trip or any trip (or piece of gear, or service) out of their own pocket. How is my trip or trip report subject to "commercial influence"? It's not.

    Kudos for you trying to be as objective "as possible". I maintain that is impossible if you are getting paid to guide these areas. Will you give an area a "1" if you go there and have to guide skiers on a breakable rain crust for a week. How bout have to sit in the lodge for 3 days because of a temperature spike? OR will you just not post that "TR"?

    At Sorcerer you give the Terrain a 4.75 (2.5 when Great Canadian is operating near by.). You give the Icefall Traverse (at least I think this is what you are rating...) - Terrain 5 (good stability) 2.5 (poor stability). So if you're going to caveat this places in less than optimal conditions then you should caveat other places. What's the Sentry terrain like in poor stability? How bout LQ Outpost lodge terrain when conditions aren't blower pow?

    Someone who perhaps doesn't ski huts much may take from your reviews that Burnie is all 5's all the time. You've suggested other areas aren't great in certain conditions how bout the Burnie?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post
    As Lee mentioned, I, just like you, am a consumer of these lodge weeks; I go to the ones I like and avoid the ones I don't like.
    So you won't go to or review the ones you don't like? On what basis do you not like them? Your list then will be far from comprehensive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post

    The marketing game for small business owners is a funny one.
    OK. How?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post
    I've chosen to engage with people by providing free information about the snowpack with my "Rogers Pass Backcountry Conditions Reports", introduce my style of adventure through trip reports and finally, provide thoughtful product reviews. My intention is to develop a relationship with people through providing pertinent content that has value for our backcountry community. Call it marketing if you will...
    I do call it marketing, and have no problem with that as long as you tell people this is marketing (and therefore advertising) and it's far from an "objective" TR.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post

    I am sorry if that rubs you the wrong way.
    You don't have to be sorry. I saw your first TR on here and when I saw that you also guided (for money) this "Trip Report" my eyebrows went up. If you are selling spots on a trip to folks for any of these lodges, then I believe that you should let people know this.
    Last edited by garyfromterrace; 09-24-2023 at 03:56 PM. Reason: he's been here for 2 years, not 1
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post
    I hear you Gary; however just about any review you read is going to be subject to some level of commercial influence.
    Ahem...
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    Arctos, I welcome the reviews, keep them, and the trip reports coming please.


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    Gary,

    I felt the intro to the review was transparentóI mentioned the review was strictly about lodges at which I have worked over the years. To answer your question, I didnít leave any out. Frankly, most every lodge in BC is going to be an incredible experienceóyou fly in on a heli and have thousands of hectares to ski with your buddies for a week. Iíve never had a bad week at a lodgeÖbut I love to ski. If I had endless cash and free time, Iíd like to go to the good ones and bring my friends and family. Unfortunately, thatís not in the cards. I book lodges and fill them with my clients, thus I try and book the lodges that are going to provide the best value and experience for my clients.

    I think we all can agree that a rainy week at a lodge is sub-optimal. But weather is weather, sometimes your the hammer and sometimes youíre the nailójust how it is.

    Iíve had a week at LQ when it rained to mountain top and blew 70+KMPH for 36 hours. That week wasnít great, but it wasnít bad either; we found good corn on solars and travelled far and wide. However on a good week of storm skiing, itís a wicked place to ski. Would I book a week there again, probably not, itís too expensive IMO.

    Iíve also seen it heat up significantly in mid-March in the Kootenays, thus I tried to convey my strategy of heading north to bigger terrain after mid-March. The skiing in the Kootenays isnít reliable enough to book a lodge week after mid-Marchóthatís coming from someone that lives in the Koots.

    Perhaps I wasnít clear that the terrain at
    Icefall is really big and if youĎre there during a week when it snows a meter+, youíll be relegated to the Hobbit trees below the lodge while size three plus avalanches crash down all over the placeÖbeen there done that. The magnitude of the terrain means there are there are very few options when there is a reactive PWL or low probability high consequence avalanche scenarios.

    The Icefall Traverse also runs something like 19 groups in a row and makes no room for weather, thus there is tremendous operational pressure to move forward at all costsóreason #1 why I probably wonít guide that trip againÖbut is it a cool experience if things go right? Definitely.

    On a number of occasions, Great Canadian has spent the day heli skiing all around me when I was at Sorcerer; thatís not really the vibe I like for ski touring. But does it have incredible terrain? Yes!

    Sentry has a fair bit of terrain you can ski in a period of poor stability.

    Burnie is subject to coastal weather, big winds and elevated freezing levels. However, as you know, the magnitude and the glaciation and mountains in your neck of the woods is incredible and thatís why itís one of my favourite lodges to visit.

    The point is, I was trying to be transparent about the nuances of those lodges, maybe I didnít elaborate enough. I did say it was a quick review.

    Most of the BC lodges arenít allowing self-guided groups anymore. Many of them arenít letting independent guides (like me) book them anymore either. Like it or not, folks are going to have to shell out for the guided catered packages more and more; I was trying to give people a bit of information to help plan their relatively expensive vacations.

    As for commercial influence, I was talking about ski mag gear reviews or online product reviews. I was being honest with my reviews, I donít have any ties to these businesses nor do I work for them. Iíve got my personal tastes in terrain, lodging and price; so of course thereís some subjectivity to my reviews.

    Anyway, I donít want to argue either. Thanks for your input, my skin is thicker on account of it. Iíll make a turn for you in Chile next week😜✌️
    Last edited by Arctos Guides; 09-24-2023 at 07:02 PM. Reason: Typos

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post
    As for commercial influence, I was talking about ski mag gear reviews or online product reviews. I was being honest with my reviews, I don’t have any ties to these businesses nor do I work for them. I’ve got my personal tastes in terrain, lodging and price; so of course there’s some subjectivity to my reviews.
    It just seems a little odd that on this particular online site, rife with honest, personal, nonremunerative reviews that one should lay claim the high ground as a professional.


    ...I’ll make a turn for you in Chile next week��✌️
    Good to know.
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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    N side, Terrace, BC
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post
    Gary,
    Thanks for your input, my skin is thicker on account of it. I’ll make a turn for you in Chile next week��✌️
    No worries, and thanks (you fucker ). Dude, my biggest problem with your rating system is consistency. If you're going to caveat your review of Sorcerer or Icefall, do the same for others. Surely Selkirk isn't always 5 x 3. Nor is Burnie (the only one of your lodges reviewed that I've been to). I've only been to 6 backcountry lodges in my life and really enjoy seeing other ones and the terrain they offer - so please keep the info coming. Just be objective and fair in your assessments.

    Cheers man, and kudos in choosing a career that gives so much to others. It can't be an easy way to make a living and I wish you all the best.

    Edit, ok maybe I've been to 8 back country lodges, 10 if you include Europe now that I think about it. But who's counting.
    Last edited by garyfromterrace; 09-26-2023 at 01:54 AM.
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  21. #21
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    835
    Hey, I come to TGR for info and strong opinions - so great thread here!
    I'll chip in that 1) Conor is a good good dude, 2) I love beta like this and 3) appreciate the local opinion as at least some of these must be Gary's backyard!
    Net net though, more info and beta is good IMO.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    30,235
    a really good thing to look at for a BC trip in BC is how does it look/what does it cost for you to get there ?

    Those GAH huts or rogers pass I leave 2 days to get there in case of a storm while driving

    if you fly its into Calgary so you need for a rental car to drive for 3 hrs, the car will then sit in a p-lot on hy1 for the next week and collect ass-loads of snow

    while at Burnie someone will pick you up free at the airport and deposit you at your hotel (suggest storks nest) also suggest you can go a day or 2 early to tune up your skiing at HBM also drink craft brew at the 2 craft brew establishments, eat sushi/ mexican all very civilized and your valet will show up to take you to the chopper base on the day you fly into the hut
    Last edited by XXX-er; 09-26-2023 at 12:55 PM.
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    North Vancouver/Whistler
    Posts
    13,715
    This is a good thread for lodge reviews - I found this to be useful too fyi . Owner/guide is a friend but I'm not getting money or anything from passing the link on yadayada.....

    https://www.zenithguides.ca/lodge-reviews

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    North Vancouver/Whistler
    Posts
    13,715
    And here's my take on the huts that Conor/Arctos listed.

    BURNIE - LL - I went before Burnie got a remake. Lodge was small, cramped and accoms definitely on the lower end. Not much for indoor facilities. No big room for stretching, hanging out etc.

    Edit. It's been re-done. My info is stale.

    Was located in a slide alder mess at tail of moraine. North Central BC glaciers have receded a lot so the lodge is vulnerable to even more inevitable glacier recession ie in terms of getting to and from alpine. The alder bashing comes into play in lower snow years or later season when they're exposed

    Terrain is freaking massive. Definitely rewards groups with range. Glaciers and icefields all over the place. N and W facing steeps and couloirs a-plenty. Better have your navigation skills dialed though due to before mentioned glacier shrinkage and slots being a factor

    There's a lot of tree-skiing too but see note about alders which can cut the vert drop off as they're character-building. Expect moderate to short tree skiing unless it's a deeper snowpack covering up the slides. Therefore call it average tree skiing.

    For Coasties it's easy to get there. We flew from Vancouver to Smithers and the lodge picks you up so its hassle-free. That's a pretty big plus vs the weather and road uncertainty of getting to Interior BC

    Downside

    - Tree skiing is OK but outshined by alpine terrain
    - Hut is small (knowledge is stale since hut now renovated)
    - Hut location is low in elevation in moraine and surrounding alder means a sub-par experience if a low snow year.


    MEADOW - LL - I haven't been to Meadow but did have a really good look at the terrain when we toured in Vista. So I can't speak to the lodge or the setup.

    The terrain is super aggressive. Pillows right out the door. It also has a series of nice E-W ridges so there's N facing chutes and runs which make it appealing if you're into a warmer spell. Like most GAH places it doesn't have glaciated terrain.

    To me what stands out is that if you're in an unstable cycle you better either (i) have helluva good discipline as there's not a lot of meadow-skippy choices (ironic name perhaps) or (ii) get used to flat skinning and hut chores

    Downside

    - Very little mellow terrain to speak of so watch your back in an unstable snow cycle
    - No glaciers


    SENTRY. Been there twice. Not sure I'd go there again unless I could hit the more aggro lines as have played out all the terrain.

    Ridiculously gucci lodge. So spacious, well-laid out, amazing place to chill after a days skiing. It doesn't cost much more than the other GAH lodges so throw in a little extra per week and you get multiple indoor toilettes, more space, on-demand water etc etc. You could easily say it's not really that big a deal but in terms of value for money it is crazy good.

    Treed terrain is outrageously good with many mini-golf and moderately long lines just out the door of the lodge and of the right (ie northerly aspects.). The longer lines are more of a walk away and worth setting up but send you into valley floor; which is the critical hit against Sentry (and the other GAH lodges). There is some alpine but the Esplanades range where GAH is located isn't quite as high as the surrounding sub-ranges so you won't have big glaciated terrain close by and you won't get a lot of those classic massive (1000m+ vert) interior BC drops.

    Having said that there's quite a few 300 - 600m shots and that's not terrible but if you want the stupid long vert then this won't have as much as some other lodges.

    If you do get stormed in and/or stability goes to pot there's lower angled options and tons of pillow lines by. Be warned that terrain here is complex with lots of micro-features so either go guided or work your navigation skills to max out your options. Bottom line is that you have to think thru it to link up lines logically

    Downside

    - No glaciers
    - Complex mini-golf terrain
    - Big lines terminate at low valley so if you're in a low snow year or warming cycle at low elevations you won't have big runs


    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post
    A candid BC Backcountry Ski Touring lodge review.

    Burnie Glacier Chalet

    The Burnie Glacier Chalet is perched on the east side of the Howson Range, southwest of Smithers, BC. The lodge sleeps 10 guests two guides and a cook. Smaller sized groups and smaller guest to guide ratios are one of the perks about this lodge. The terrain is also incredible- big glaciated terrain with ample opportunities to do really nice circuits is a highlight. The lodge has a fantastic sauna, private rooms and running water. The toilets are well designed outhouses which are a short walk from the lodge.

    Golden Alpine Holidays

    Meadow Lodge
    Situated at treeline (2200m) in the heart of the Esplanade Range, the Meadow Hut is well positioned for a mix of storm skiing and alpine adventure.
    The lodge doesn’t have wifi and is a bit on the rustic side, as there are no comfy couches, just a large table and private rooms—but hey, what more do you need? The kitchen is well appointed and the overall layout of the lodge is well thought out. You’ll also have to haul your water. There’s a drying room with plenty of space and the main part of the lodge is heated with wood. It also comes with a caretaker to keep the lodge on the up and up, so you can focus on the skiing and splitboarding. Guests clean off in a wood fired sauna and use outhouses for answering nature’s call.
    There are a couple of downsides to Meadow. The first is that most of the storm skiing is down valley and there is significant exposure to overhead hazard on your way back to the lodge. The second is stronger groups may run out of terrain over the course of a week.

    Sentry Lodge
    Sentry Lodge is Golden Alpine Holidays’ flagship. It has the most terrain and the nicest accommodations of all the GAH lodges. Placed at treeline, it is easy to tour out the door in any conditions. Sentry features flush toilets, hot showers, running water, a spacious living room, private rooms, a dining area, a stretching space, wifi and a wood fired sauna. The terrain at Sentry is expansive and offers both storm skiing and alpine adventure. You won’t run out of terrain over the course of your week.
    A caretaker is also included in the package so you can focus on the riding. There aren’t many downsides to Sentry Lodge except for the lack of glaciated terrain, thus if your seeking out big glaciated alpine terrain, this isn’t the lodge for you.
    Last edited by LeeLau; 11-06-2023 at 06:13 PM.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    North Vancouver/Whistler
    Posts
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    ICEFALL

    The lodge looks like it was built like a kit lodge as a big box then filled with rooms. The main lodge lacks personality. The secondary lodge is actually kind of cool and is quieter than the main lodge and where we prefer to sleep. When we first went about 10 years ago the lodges were reminiscent of garden sheds. They're not so utilitarian now and quite a better but don't expect high-end. Just to be clear, i don't expect naugahyde and rich corinthian leather but for what you're paying you kind of expect a bit more thought. Another hot-tip. Bring nice T-P. The single ply super thin T-P stocked at Icefall is BC parks quality. Like I said - its the little things.

    Terrain is magnificent. Alpine is insanely great. Sub-alpine ditto. Treeline ditto. It's also the Western Rockies and high and surrounded by a metric buttload of glaciers. Other areas can rain. You'll be OK at Icefall.

    It significantly rewards aggressive, fit skiers in any kind of conditions. I mean, this is true of almost all terrain but the quantum leap in terrain availability is so marked if you can add another 500m vert or another 5km distance to your day. One look at the map will tell you why as the area is simply lousy with alpine bowls. big treed lines etc. The mountains around Icefall must be among the most beautiful I've ever had the privilege to see or ski tour around.

    More on the trees. Some areas don't have a big variety or aspect or character or fall-line of vert of trees. Icefall is NOT one of these areas. Less than an hour from the lodge you can spread out and bang out pillows, spaced trees, drops to flat or chutes and features. As a self-guided group we split into 4 groups of approx 4 each and had no issues finding lots of lines. Not sure how it'll work for guided groups but there's more than enough choice for more ambitious groups to do more and the more chill parties to do less (and safely return to the lodge) and everyone's happy.

    There is one significant call-out. The last time we went the base crew weren't organized. Gear wasn't flagged. Base staff didn't know the timing of the loads. It was a gongshow. Watch your gear and don't assume they know what they're doing.

    Downside

    - Hut is pretty generic and not what you'd call cosy
    - Lackadaisical and careless base staff (custodian and cook otoh were really good)

    Ice Creek Lodge

    Haven't been. No insight



    Quote Originally Posted by Arctos Guides View Post
    A candid BC Backcountry Ski Touring lodge review.

    Icefall Lodge

    If you’re looking for big glaciated alpine terrain in the Canadian Rockies, look not further, Icefall Lodge is it. You’ll feel small at Icefall, very small.

    The lodge is big and well thought out. However it is definitely on the rustic side—the cool part is a fair bit of the material was sourced from trees onsite. The lodge is powered by micro hydro and there are private rooms, plenty of space, outhouses, stretching areas and a sizeable kitchen/dining area, which also doubles as the hangout zone. The drying room is substantial with a separate boot/clothes drying room.
    The downside to Icefall is the severity of its terrain. If you happen to go there during a significant storm cycle, you will feel hemmed in due to exposure to complex avalanche terrain. The lodge is also built to house large groups, so if you’re looking for a small group experience, be ready to ante up for a large per person cost or look for another lodge.
    A new feature Icefall has added is the Icefall Traverse, a hut to hut horseshoe that takes you through some amazing terrain. The tour starts at the Mons Hut and travels across the Lyell Icefield to the Alexandra Cabin, up and over a col to Icefall Lodge and then onto the Rostrum Cabin.

    It’s an amazing trip, I guided two trips last year and really enjoyed it. There are some operational pressures, as groups start every day; last year Icefall ran 19 trips back to back. Thus there is no waiting out a storm option to move when it clears up. That’s a bit of a bummer as groups may have to skip going to the Alexandra Cabin if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Last spring was quite stormy and we did most of the trip in a whiteout both times
    .


    Ice Creek Lodge

    Positioned just outside of Valhalla Provincial Park at 1860m, Ice Creek Lodge is in some of the biggest terrain the Kootenays have to offer. Its still the Kootenays though, so the early season snowpack is thin (mid January) and by March you can expect elevated freezing levels and variable conditions. The good thing is the home drainage has primarily north aspect terrain.
    The lodge is set up for eight to ten close friends. It’s rustic, bunkhouse style living, with a dormitory sleeping loft and limited hangout space. The main lodge is heated with a wood stove and there is a small drying room that serves as the entryway to the lodge. There’s intermittent, limited, slow wifi, running water at a hand wash station, a rustic bucket shower, outhouses and a rustic wood fired sauna.
    There’s plenty of alpine terrain to keep a strong group with good stability busy. However there’s limited amounts of tree skiing and storm skiing. The Valhallas are also a bit short on glaciated terrain, so if you’re seeking out big glaciated terrain, you’ll want to look elsewhere. The price of this lodge is similar to lodges with much nicer accommodations and similar terrain.
    Last edited by LeeLau; 11-06-2023 at 06:14 PM.

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