We just got back from Skoki Lodge, on an amazing January Ski Trip. Everytime we go for a backcountry ski trip, we come back amazed. Canada is blessed with a wonderful mix of options for winter fun on skis. You can find great groomed cross-country ski trails and modern ski hills with light, dry powder.
However where Canada is really special is backcountry ski touring, using your own power to climb up hills and ski down the virgin powder. This can be alpine touring (AT), where you effectively have downhills skis and boots and the aim is to ski virgin powder or it can be Light Touring, which is closer to cross-country skiing, only with metal edges and mimics hiking.
What makes Canada different is the cold dry powder and the remoteness. In most cases you need to either have a long ski into your lodge or else take a chopper flight. In either case, you are the only people there, kept safe and sound in a warm mountain lodge.
For anybody thinking of coming to Canada, there are some incredible options that you must put on your map. Here are four backcountry lodges to consider.
Located near the Lake Louise ski hill, Skoki Lodge was the choice for Prince William and Kate for a summer retreat in 2011. More recently, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudea rang in 2018 at Skoki Lodge. You access the historic lodge via a 3 to 5 hour ski or snowshoe, which is a great day trip in itself.
Once at the lodge, staff take care of you with incredible meals, stunning scenery and legendary atmosphere. The touring around Skoki Lodge is not steep and deep, and is best suited for those who are looking for light touring and not major descents. The tours are also self-guided, so people shouldn’t tackle significant objectives without proper expertise.
Assiniboine Lodge is another historic gem, located next door to Banff National Park in BC’s Assiniboine Provincial Park. The Lodge is at the base of Mount Assiniboine, a Canadian Matterhorn.
The Lodge is simply stunning, with views from the front door amongst the best in Canada, looking out directly on the stunning Mount Assiniboine. You can get to the Lodge via a long 8+ hour ski in, which some people do in 2 days, though many people take a helicopter in.
Once at the lodge, there is an abundance of rolling terrain to tour on, with a few more aggressive objectives for those seeking powder turns. Lodge guides are on-hand to lead groups each day and returning back to the lodge means delicious food and ambiance.
Fairy Meadows Hut is also known as the Bill Putnam Hut. The hut is one of the original ski touring destinations in Canada for those that love powder skiing.
Located in a grassy meadow in the Adamant group of the Selkirk Mountains, this Alpine Club of Canada hut can only be accessed by helicopter and booking takes place far in advance. The majority of guests either go with the ACC or a guiding company that has booked the hut for their trip.
The historic hut is comfortable, though not luxurious, with a common sleeping area and you need to bring your own sleeping bag. This lack of luxury is balanced by the incredible ski touring and location.
Selkirk Mountain Experience is run by Swiss Guide Ruedi Beglinger and his wife Nicoline. The main lodge is nestled at the base of the impressive Durrand Glacier in the Northern Selkirk Mountains.
The main lodge is backcountry luxury, with hot showers, wireless internet and incredible food. There are two other lodges which allow lodge-to-lodge ski tours, a rare treat in the Canadian wilderness.
Compared to other backcountry lodges this feels like true luxury, with world class skiing and pleasant accommodations. Add to this incredible terrain and swiss attention to detail and timeliness and it is a winning recipe for a great week of ski touring.