Intro to Backcountry Skiing at Burnie Glacier Chalet

Any level
8 days
All ages
1–8 people

Tempted by the big lines and adventure of backcountry skiing? Intimidated by all the scary stories about avalanches, crevasses and storms? This course will leave you with a solid knowledge of what you’re getting into. Plus, you'll have tons of memories of incredible runs, wonderful food, the magic of lodge living, and backcountry adventure. You also get to learn all of this at the stunning Burnie Glacier Chalet in British Columbia.  Top that!

Introduction to Backcountry Skiing at Burnie Glacier

In a week based at the Burnie Glacier Chalet, you’ll learn CAA certified Avalanche Skills Training I and II Course. You’ll also get a Companion Rescue course. But that’s just where it starts. There’s more to ski mountaineering than avalanches!

From efficient skinning to making kickturns that work in steep terrain, from glacier travel to crevasse rescue and from map reading to whiteout navigation, this full week of training and backcountry skiing will give you an appreciation of the complexity and magic of winter in the mountains.

Each day we’ll focus on a particular topic and train in small groups with certified guides. There are presentations in the evenings to provide more background and to any answer questions. Don’t worry, there’s also plenty of time for some great powder skiing (that’s what it’s all about, after all), our famous saunas and our even more famous dinners.

Other things to keep in mind

We will weigh your luggage. It can’t be heavier than 15 kg (33 lb.), excluding skis, snowshoes, or snowboards. Bring ski clothing and a set of comfortable clothes to change into. See the equipment list below.

Avoid bringing a large ski bag with lots of stuff in it. Those bags are awkward to fit into the Dash-8 airplane that serves Smithers and will be the first to be left behind. Use a small ski bag only, or use Air Canada’s plastic wrap.

A little information about the mountain lodge

Many friends and I built the mountain refuge in 2001. It is on the Kwees house territory of the Tsayu clan of the Wet’suwet’en, who graciously gave permission. Everything had to fly: the wood beams and timbers, the concrete, the windows, the furniture, the roofing, everything down to the last nail. The nearest road is 20 km and two mountain ridges away. The lodge sleeps eleven guests, two guides, and one cook. The lodge is heated with wood and has running water in addition to a small hydro turbine fed by a nearby mountain spring.

Travel details
  • Daily flights from Vancouver on Air Canada Jazz
  • Passenger service on VIA Rail
  • Drive 4 hours from either Prince George or Prince Rupert on Highway 16
  • Check Air Canada’s schedules and fares well before you plan to travel
  • No need to rent a car when you get to Smithers. We get you from the airport to the Chalet!

It is just a short taxi ride across the town of Smithers to the Stork Nest Inn. It’s in easy walking distance of bars and restaurants. The Silver King Helicopters hangar is at the airport.

We recommend that you fly in the night before and stay in Smithers. In the event some of your luggage arrives late, there won’t be any problems. You can easily catch the evening flight out on the afternoon of your departure. The afternoon flight from Vancouver to Smithers is also easily reached if you come from overseas and arrive in Vancouver by early afternoon.

Where we are
What's included
  • We provide skis, skins, bindings, avalanche beacons, probes and shovels. It is of course preferable if you have your own
  • Bedding is provided
  • Harness (available)
  • 1 locking carabiner (available)
  • 1 normal carabiner
  • Transceiver, probe, shovel (available)
  • Light ice axe (available)

Not included in the price:

  • Airfare to Smithers, BC
  • All you have to bring is ski mountaineering boots. We have a few pairs should all else fail
  • Please leave your ski bags at the hangar or the hotel in Smithers. They take up a lot of space and are unnecessary
  • Large day backpack (at least 30 litres) and duffel
  • 2 sets ski underwear - merino or poly, no cotton
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 2 light fleece sweaters
  • 1 pile or fleece jacket
  • 1 shell jacket with hood (water resistant and breathable, hard or soft shell)
  • ski pants and gaiters if necessary
  • light down jacket or puffy
  • personal first aid kit and medications
  • glacier sunglasses
  • ski goggles
  • warm hat or toque, balaclava
  • sun hat, sun protection for skin and lips
  • good warm ski gloves, thinner gloves for climbing, warm mitts
  • thermos bottle
  • map and compass (optional, 1: 50,000 93 L/5 Burnie Lake, a 1:25,000 map is available at the lodge and at Interior Stationery in Smithers)
  • camera, toothbrush, sponge, soap etc.
    slippers or camp booties, snow boots
  • casual clothes for wearing at the chalet
  • skis, skins, ski crampons, ski strap (available)
Why book through 57hours?

We’re an adventure loving, rock climbing, tech company that loves all things outdoors-y. Why spend days looking for the right guide and adrenaline rush, when we can (and already did) do it for you? Want a serious guide for a challenging backcountry tour? We know a bunch. How about a guide to show you around the Alps? Check. Maybe your kids want to ski and won’t stop going on about it until you book them a trip. Yes, we know guides who are great for beginners, too. Oh, yeah, every guide we know prioritizes SAFETY and FUN. Book with 57hours, we’ve done your work for you. You’re welcome.

Guides running this program

Christoph Dietzfelbinger

Christoph loves skiing, climbing and being in the mountains. This has been his passion since he was 15. His excitement is as keen as it always was, only now with 35 years of experience to share.

In the 1980s, Christoph was lucky enough to climb and guide many of the great rock and ice routes of the Alps: the north face of Lalidererspitze and the southwest face of Marmolata, the Brenva Spur on Montblanc and the northeast face of Piz Roseg.

Lured to northern Canada by the promise of wilderness and ever-new vistas, he guided Denali (Mt. McKinley) three times in the 1990s and spent much time in remote places like the Stikine Icecap and the Saint Elias Mountains.

In the northwest region of Canada where he lives, he expanded into fields where there was little local expertise available.

Chris developed and ran avalanche safety programs for mines and roads. He is now a Qualified Avalanche Planner consulting with any industry on their avalanche safety plans.

Christoph has also spent several winters heliskiing.

In 2001, he built the spectacular Burnie Glacier Chalet in the Howson Range with wood from local forests and the help of many dedicated and skillful friends.

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