Selkirk Range, British Columbia, Canada
Ski touring week in one of BC’s premier backcountry skiing destinations with helicopter access. Based out of the ACC Fairy Meadow Hut.
Fairy Meadow Ski Touring Highlights
- Premier ski touring hut in Canada
- 10 m / 33 ft average snowfall per year
- Up to 1,300 m / 4,300 ft vertical runs
- Breathtaking scenery: big glaciers and granite spires
- Lots of summit opportunities
- Spacious, comfortable hut with sauna!
The Selkirk Range of the Columbia Mountains is world-famous for legendary snowfall, awesome scenery, and prime backcountry skiing terrain. While most everybody comes to the Columbias for heli-skiing, we will only use a helicopter to get to and from this very remote location. Once there, we will have the satisfaction of earning our turns.
The Fairy Meadow (Bill Putnam) Hut, owned by the Alpine Club of Canada, is one of the most popular of all ski touring huts in BC. It is so popular that ski weeks are awarded by an annual lottery system. Some years, we manage to secure a week for OnTop guests.
The ski terrain is high alpine and largely glaciated with lots of runs on northern aspects. With the hut located at 2,050 m (6,700 ft), some of the great summit ascents yield over 1,300 m / 4,300 ft runs, which take you back to hot (and cold) drinks, delicious meals and a cozy sauna!
To close with a quote from guidebook author and historian Chic Scott: “At Fairy Meadow, the snow is deep, the runs are excellent and the hut is very comfortable”. Need we say more?
Details and Logistics
Meet in Golden, BC on the morning of Day 1.
The Selkirk Range in BC’s Columbia Mountains is primarily influenced by a moist, maritime climate (very much in contrast to the 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 daytime 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 crust!
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.
Bring the following, or rent it (see ‘Trip Info Links’ at the bottom of the page):
Alpine touring (or telemark*) skis and ski boots
Collapsible, lightweight ski poles
Climbing skins (stick-on), fitted to your skis
Ski crampons (rent these with rented skis, or purchase your own for your own skis)
*Only bring telemark skis if you are an advanced telemark skier with backcountry experience.
If you do not have one or more of the following items, you can rent them from one of the listed retailers or from OnTop. Please book in advance.
Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver
Lightweight snow shovel
Avalanche probe (two to three meters long)
Harness for glacier travel
One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
Bring the following:
Two small or a medium size duffel bag, or backpack, to transport your things in the helicopter
Daypack for ski touring (30-45 liters)
Crevasse rescue equipment, if you are familiar with it. (Prusik cords, webbing, pulleys, auto-locking device). Your guide will bring a full set.
General repair kit and Leatherman (can be shared between several people)
Spare parts specific to your equipment
Temperatures in the Western Canadian mountain ranges vary hugely. Between December and February, temperatures can be well below 0°C during the day and drop as low as –30°C overnight. Between March and May, it can be above freezing during the day with overnight lows not normally going below –10°C. Having several clothing layering options is important.
Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or similar)
Wind and waterproof over-pants (Gore-Tex or similar)
Ski touring pants (eg. lined Schoeller fabric or similar)
Thick fleece or wool pullover, or PrimaLoft jacket
Medium weight fleece shirt
Thin synthetic or wool underwear, top and bottoms
Two or more pairs of gloves (lightweight and heavier weight)
Scarf or neck gaiter (eg. Buff)
Socks (synthetic or wool, thick outer and thin liners)
Wool or fleece hat that covers your ears
Gaiters that fit over your ski boot (unless pants seal tightly to your boots)
Sun hat, preferably with a wide rim
Around the lodge
Space and weight on the helicopter are limited. Please keep personal items to a minimum.
Clothing for the hut and for sleeping
Extra underwear and socks
Light down jacket or vest
Light hut slippers or Crocs
2 to 3 season sleeping bag
Towel and sauna-wear (optional)
Games, books, etc. (optional)
Moderate quantity of après-ski beverages (optional)
Sunglasses with high UV protection
Ski goggles with high UV protection
Sunscreen and lip protection with high SPF
One-litre water bottle with insulator. Water bladders not recommended
Headlamp with spare battery
Snacks (eg. candy bars, dried fruit, nuts, etc.)
Personal first aid kit and other needs (eg. blister kit, prescription medicine, anti-inflammatory, contact lenses, prescription glasses, etc.)
Pocket knife (optional)
Health and travel insurance documents
Ziploc bags to keep important items dry (optional)
Rain cover specific to your pack, or large plastic bag
Camera with spare batteries (optional)
Compass, maps, GPS (optional)
Ski wax / skin wax (optional)
Hand sanitizer or sanitary hand wipes
Client / Guides
Groups of 6 clients with 2 guides
- Intermediate skiing
- Good fitness required
- Light daypacks
- Mostly open terrain
- Lots of glaciers
We didn’t have any luck in the 2018/2019 lottery, but please ask us about similar trips, or if we know of other guides or self-guided groups that have spots available.
- CA $2,500 + GST
Includes: Guides + guide expenses, 7 nights hut accommodation, 7 multi-course dinners and breakfasts, helicopter transfers to and from the hut.
Extra: transport to staging area (can be quoted separately), rental of ski equipment, rental of avalanche safety equipment ($100 for the avalanche safety items, $50 for the harness and carabiners)