Selkirk Ranges, British Columbia, Canada
Ski Touring Week in one of B.C.s Premier Backcountry Skiing Locations with Helicopter Access. Based from ACC Fairy Meadows Hut
Fairy Meadows Ski Touring Highlights
- Premier ski touring hut in Canada
- 33ft avg snowfall / year
- Up to 1200m vertical runs
- Breathtaking scenery – big glaciers
- Lots of peak ascents
- Spacious, comfortable hut with sauna!
The Columbia mountains are world famous for their legendary snow fall, awesome scenery and prime backcountry skiing terrain. While most everybody comes here for heli-skiing, we will only use the helicopter to get to this very remote location. Once there, it will be: “earn your turns!”.
The Fairy Meadows (a.k. Bill Putnam Hut), owned by the Alpine Club of Canada, is one of the most popular of all ski touring huts in BC. So popular, that spots are being awarded by an annual lottery system and some years, we manage to get a week for our groups.
The skiing terrain is high alpine and largely glaciated with lots of northerly aspect runs. With the hut located at 2050 m (6700 ft), some of the great peak ascents yield almost 1200 meter (4000 ft.) runs, which take you back to hot (and cold) drinks, delicious meals and a cozy sauna!
To close with a quote from Chic Scott: At Fairy Meadows, “the snow is deep, the runs are excellent and the hut is very comfortable”. Nee we say more!
Detail and Logistics
Meet in Golden BC on the morning of Day 1.
The Selkirk Range in BC’s Columbia Ranges are primarily influenced by a moist, maritime climate (very much in contrast to Canadian Rockies) with moderate winter temps. During a typical ski touring week, you should be prepared for heavy snowfall and temps from -1C (30F) to -15C (5F).
For spring skiing weeks, powder snow (dry, cold snow) usually preserves well on the many northerly aspects even if it hasn’t snowed in days. At the same time, the southerly aspects will start to corn up (melt-freeze cycle) with sunny weather, which yields nice spring skiing, if the descents are well timed with the day time heating. Unfortunately, as with any backcountry skiing, we can’t exclude (but do our best to avoid) the “in-between stages” of powder and corn: Crud a.k.a breakable crusts!
Regular trip package: 7 days guiding and instruction by an internationally (UIAGM / IFMGA / ACMG) certified mountain, ski guide or apprentice ski guide (for second guide), 7 nights dormitory lodging in the Fairy Meadows Hut, 7 multi-course dinners and breakfast “(meals are professionally precooked and will be prepared with assistance of the group members in the hut), helicopter transfer to and from the hut, all transport to and from Golden, BC
Can I Do It?
You need to be at least an intermediate skier, who can safely and controlled descend even in difficult snow conditions with a day touring backpack!
You need to be in good physical and mental condition, ready to be on your feet for about 7-8 hrs each day.
However, on some days, there will be an option for shorter days with relax time at the hut! If in doubt, give us a call!
You need either sturdy telemark equipment or (more common in Canada) alpine touring equipment – either is available for rental at our base in Canmore, Banff or Golden, BC. Please call ahead, so we can advice you and set you up with the right equipment for you. As with all our trips, we will provide you with a detailed equipment list with your booking confirmation.
1. Technical Equipment
All items marked with ‘*’ can be rented from a rental shop locally. Best to reserve any equipment well ahead of your arrival.
All items marked with ‘**’ can be rented from OnTop. Best to bring your own equipment, if you have it.
Telemark or Alpine Touring skis*: Only bring your telemark skis if you are at least an advanced/intermediate telemarkskier with backcountry experience.
Telemark or alpine touring boots*
Collapsible ski poles*, **
Climbing skins (stick-on) that fit your telemark or alpine touring skis*
Avalanche transceiver (457 Megahertz)*, **
Lightweight snow shovel*, **
Avalanche probe*, **
Backpack or duffle bag to pack your stuff for heli-transport
Day-touring backpack (30 – 45 liters)**
Climbing harness for glacier travel**
One locking carabiner**
Crevasse rescue equipment, if you are familiar with it (optional). (Prusik slings,webbing, pulleys, auto-locking device). Your guide(s) will bring a full set.
Ski crampons* (obligatory for any spring trips. Usually rented with a ski touring set – renting ski crampons for your own skis is problematic as rental shops only carry those that are compatible with the binding models they carry)
Repair kit for your skis (can be shared between 2 people)
Temperatures in the Western Canadian mountain ranges vary hugely. Early season (December – February) temps can drop as low as –30C, whereas in spring (mid-March – May) it can warm up to above freezing temps and overnight lows are not usually below –
10C. The list is meant as a guide line, but we realize that our guests have their clothing priorities and substituting certain items with other equivalent pieces of clothing might be a valid alternative. If you do so, you should discuss it with your guide in the pre-trip briefing.
Wind and waterproof (Gore Tex or similar) shell jacket with hood
Wind and waterproof (Gore Tex or similar) over pants
Ski touring pants (preferably Schoeller fabric or similar)
Fleece or wool pullover or jacket
Medium weight fleece shirt
Polypro, fleece or wool underwear, top and bottoms
2 Pairs of gloves (lightweight and heavier weight)
Scarf or neck gaiter
Socks: thick (wool) outer and thinner liners
Wool or fleece hat, covering the ears
Gaiters (unless pants lock tightly to your boots)
Sun hat, preferably with wide rim
Clothing for the hut – keep to a minimum
Sleeping bag (three-season bag sufficient – some lodges supply bedding)
Large and small towel for sauna
Spare underwear, socks
Swim trunks (optional) for sauna
Down vest or light insulated jacket (optional)
Very light hut slippers / down booties
Ear plugs (optional)
Games / books etc (optional)
4. Other items
Sun Glasses (with very good UV protection, extra pair is a good idea)
Sun screen and lip protection
Water bottle, preferably insulated, minimum volume: 1 liter or camelbak (if too cold, bladder tube might freeze up!)
Head lamp with spare battery and bulb
Blister kit (optional)
Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc.)
Personal items (Prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses etc.)
Pocket knife or leatherman tool
(Health) insurance documents
Zip-lock bag for wallet and documents to keep them dry (recommended)
Camera, spare batteries (optional)
Compass, maps and GPS (optional)
Ski wax / skin wax (optional)
- Intermediate skiing
- Very good fitness
- Light day packs
- Mostly open terrain
- Lots of glaciers
No luck in the 2018 lottery for spaces but we often know of other guides or self-guided groups that still have spots available or inquire for similar trips
- CA $2500 + GST
Includes: Guides + guide expenses, 7 nights Hut, 7 multi-course dinners and breakfast, helicopter transfers to/from hut.