Spending a week at a backcountry ski lodge in British Columbia should be high on every backcountry skier's tick list. These remote lodges offer a Canadian take on experiencing the backcountry, allowing guests to get deep in the mountains without embarking on a grueling winter mountaineering expedition.
Rather than hauling in a week's worth of supplies in packs and ski pulks, guests arrive at the lodge via helicopter or snowcat. Deep in the backcountry, far from crowds and other skiers, the lodge becomes a well-provisioned and comfortable "basecamp" for daily backcountry exploration. to their own remote plot of backcountry skiing terrain.
Here are 4 reasons your next ski trip should be to a backcountry lodge in British Columbia.
While any snow-based vacation is subject to conditions before and during your trip, British Columbia is renowned for high quality powder skiing. Consistent snowfall is the name of the game in BC, with many locations recording snowfall 141 days per year! Beyond consistency is quantity. Many places in BC receive a huge amount of snow, with Fidelity Mountain, between Revelstoke and Golden, BC topping the list at around 550" per year! Cloudy skies, high latitudes and cold temperatures help to maintain ideal conditions for skiing and riding throughout the season as well.
British Columbia gets a lot of snow, and at a backcountry lodge, there aren't many people to ski it up. While it's true that a lodge full of hard-charging skiers and riders can cover a lot of terrain and ski up a lot of snow when their only job for the week is to do just that, generally the amount of terrain and the consistency of snowfall means that you're in for top-notch snow quality.
Ranging in the terrain of the Columbia Mountains in BC. Photo: Zeb Blais.
There are over 35 lodges in British Columbia in 4 Mountain ranges. Between BC’s four major mountain ranges (the Rockies, Columbia Mountains, Cariboo-Chilcotins, and Coast Range), there is a massive amount of ski terrain. From the steep and rugged peaks of Eastern BC, to the glacier smattered peaks of coastal BC, there is a terrain to suit every style of rider.
BC Lodges access everything from mellow powder fields to extreme ski lines. Many lodges offer a full variety of terrain, from below treeline glades to glaciated, high alpine bowls. Lodges like Sunrise Lodge and Valkyr Lodge host a number of short lines close to the lodge as well as some long runs further afield. Days at the Icefall Lodge are characterized by big objectives, skiing only one or two huge lines per day.
Cold breakfast first thing in the morning at Sunrise Lodge. Hot Breakfast and lunch to follow before leaving for a day of skiing! Photo: Zeb Blais.
Unlike self-supported backcountry trips, BC Lodge trips are fully stocked and each Blackbird trip is supported by a dedicated cook for the week. Depending on which cook we hire, we’ll get anywhere from 4 to six prepared meals each day. Days often start with cold breakfast and coffee, followed shortly after by a hot breakfast. Some lodges and cooks do a build your own style lunch, while others prepare that as well. When the day of shredding powder is done, appetizers greet guests before the evening sauna, which is followed by a full dinner and desert. You’re not going to go hungry on a BC Lodge Backcountry ski trip!
Eating well is a huge part of a successful trip. With full days of trail breaking, powder skiing, and exploring, we’re burning a lot of calories each day. We need to keep up with the energy demands of the week and have plenty of calories on board each day to keep up. We’ve been blown away by how good the food has been at our lodges. The cooks typically work full time at lodges over the winter and have prepared hundreds of meals for hungry backcountry skiers and riders. They know exactly how to fuel a week of backcountry skiing in British Columbia!
As an example, at Sunrise Lodge in 2022, our cook Michelle baked fresh bread for the entire trip. Each day we'd start with a cold breakfast of full-calorie yogurt, homemade granola, fresh fruit salad and freshly brewed coffee. This was followed by a hot breakfast ranging from bacon, eggs and pancakes to eggs benedict. After breakfast we'd grab a specialty sandwich she'd made fresh that day, and ski until either daylight or our legs gave out. We'd return to appetizers of charcuterie, nachos, soups and dinners of Lasagna, burritos and even ribs. Desert was always exciting, and the crowd pleaser of the trip was a Michelle's family recipe banana cake with cream cheese frosting - delicious!
If the snow ever fails to excite, great food has a way of making up for it. Incredible meals have a way of making good days great! Cooks are the hardest working people on any BC Lodge trip and their work is always appreciated!
4. The Lodges
Outside the Sunrise Lodge. Photo: Zeb Blais.
Each Backcountry Lodge in British Columbia has its own story to tell. Some are older, with deep history and decades of stories of skiers and riders hunting deep snow and steep lines. Others are more modern and offer creature comforts that rival front-country hotels.
No matter which style you choose, there are a few features common at all of the lodges in British Columbia. These include:
Dining Room and kitchen at Sunrise Lodge. Photo: Zeb Blais.
- Kitchens. Full sized, and fully stocked kitchens for preparing restaurant scale and quality food.
- Dining Rooms. This is where the team will gather for each meal at the lodge. It is really fun to describe plans for the day each morning and share stories at the end of each day during meals with the whole team. Dining rooms also serve as a game room and pub for guests who want more time to socialize.
A small room at Sunrise Lodge in BC.
- Comfortable rooms and beds. Often double occupancy, the rooms at backcountry lodges in BC are rustic, but comfortable. Mattresses are regular, foam or memory foam mattresses, not thin inflatables or roll up mattresses you might find on a mountaineering expedition.
- Saunas. Nearly all of the lodges have full-scale, wood-fired saunas
- Showers. These are typically fairly primitive, but are hot and provide a refreshing daily cleanse. They usually incorporate the heat from the saunas to heat the water and the shower room. Typically the hot water is gravity fed and it’s a surprisingly comfortable and pleasant shower experience.
The Boot and gear drying room at the Sunrise Lodge.
- Boot and Gear Drying Rooms. Having dry gear each day is a huge part of having fun on these trips. Most lodges have facilities that promote easy drying for ski and snowboard boots to keep feet happy and warm each day and to isolate the boot smell from the sleeping and dining quarters.
- Electricity and Charging Capability. All of the Backcountry Lodges of BC have some sort of electric power that provides electricity for guests to charge airbag packs, phones, heated footbeds and socks and other electronics. Power is sometimes limited, depending on what system the hut uses to generate and store it.
- Running Water. Due to the difficulties of keeping pipes from freezing in these high and cold mountain areas, running water is a tough one! Some lodges have figured out clever ways to solve this challenging task, and others keep it simple using gravity fed systems and manually hauling water. When water hauling is required, many hands make light work and there are usually a few people willing to trade water duty for doing dishes.
- Toilets. This is another creature comfort that we take for granted in our homes but makes for a difficult problem to solve in the backcountry. At most BC lodges, toilets are outhouses, but many also include indoor urinals to make midnight bathroom runs a little easier.
- Internet, WiFi and Cellular Data Coverage. Some lodges are actually within range of 3G and 4G data service, but many are remote enough that they are fully out of range. Where cellular data is unavailable, lodges often have limited bandwidth and use the service for weather and avalanche information sharing only. Some lodges do have WiFi that is available for guests, but often it is only available through the lodge’s computer to avoid overwhelming the limited bandwidth available. If you are expecting WiFi during your trip, make sure to inquire about the availability and quality of the internet service!
Looking for a Backcountry Ski Lodge Experience in the US?
If you're looking for an incredible and comfortable lodge experience in the lower 48, we've got just the thing! The Frog Lake Huts in Truckee, CA is Tahoe's answer to the British Columbia Backcountry Ski Lodge. Read more about the Frog Lake Huts Here.