Late November through mid-April
Intermediate to advanced
Backcountry skiing in Canada’s northernmost ski lodge
Tempted by the big lines and the adventure of backcountry skiing? At the Burnie Glacier Chalet in British Columbia, you’ll have tons of memories of incredible runs, wonderful food, and the magic of lodge living. There’ll be lots of cold, deep snow, and don’t be surprised if the conditions allow you to experience some big alpine mountaineering trips, too. The terrain appeals to strong skiers as it has many demanding, glaciated lines, rugged peaks, and excellent tree skiing for stormy days. Get ready for eight days of a helicopter-accessed snowy adventure at the Burnie Glacier Chalet!
Book This Adventure
Heli-Accessed Backcountry Skiing at Burnie Glacier Chalet
Welcome to big mountain skiing where big, stable snowpack is the norm. You’ll depart Smithers via helicopter for eight days of backcountry skiing and mountaineering in Northern Canada, pushing peaks and carving big turns through massive slopes of untouched powder. In the evenings, find yourself lounging around the beautiful dining table while wood crackles in the cookstove and a dinner simmers on top. Get ready to indulge in a gourmet meal or kick back with a cold beer in the cedar sauna at the Burnie Glacier Chalet.
Burnie Glacier offers spectacular, rugged alpine terrain with beautiful ski runs. Choose between the gentle glacier runs, steep tree runs for adrenaline seekers, or incredible ski mountaineering trips high into the alpine. Perfectly situated for ski touring below the Burnie and Solitaire Glaciers, the Chalet is situated close to some exciting 700 m tree runs and 1400 m glacier runs. After exciting days on the slope, relax in the lodge with spectacular views of the towering Hut Peak, Burnie Glacier, Solitaire Ski Peaks and Lakehead Peak.
Things you need to know
Covid measures in British Columbia
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity. You can view the detailed Burnie Glacier COVID-19 Response Plan here.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in BC, please refer to the Government of British Columbia website.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
Why should I book with 57hours?
With us, it’s all play and no work for you! 57hours is an open platform that connects you with trained and certified outdoor adventure professionals all over the world. Using our tech-savvy, we make it super easy to find and book adventures worth tackling, with guides worth booking, all gathered from the first-hand experiences of the locals who adventure in these amazing locations.
Why should I go backcountry skiing?
Nothing beats the rush you’ll get from laying down first tracks on an incredible route with nothing but endless terrain laying before you. Alpine peaks, open bowls, steep and secluded tree shots, cruisy, mellow runs — it’s all out there waiting to be explored in the backcountry. You’ll spend less time waiting in chairlift lines and more time skiing, so leave the crowded resort behind and head off-piste for some of the best powder you’ll ever experience!
What can I expect from skiing with a guide?
A certified ski guide will take all of the guesswork out of your time in the backcountry. From tour planning to route selection, terrain management, avalanche safety, and gear knowledge, your guide’s expertise and backcountry experience will ensure you have an unforgettable ski touring adventure.
It doesn’t matter your skill level, whether you’ve never backcountry skied or you’re seasoned on the slopes, skiing with a guide has its advantages. Your techniques will sharpen, you’ll learn how to navigate terrain safely, make smart decisions, and most of all, you’ll remain safe in unfamiliar terrain.
What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?
This adventure is reserved for solid intermediate to advanced skiers with previous experience in backcountry skiing. You have to be comfortable multiple hours of skinning, steep descents, diving into deep powder and navigating between trees to fully enjoy the terrain. Days are customized to the experience level of the group, but backcountry experience is necessary.
For those looking to take their first foray into backcountry skiing, there is plenty of terrain in the surrounding area to spend the day at with a private guide and learn the fundamentals of backcountry skiing.
What you get in this adventure:
- An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- A full week of backcountry ski touring
- An in-house chef and all meals at the chalet
- Lodge accommodation
- Airport shuttle in Smithers
- Helicopter transportation to and from the chalet
- Group gear
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
- Trip insurance
- Transportation to and from Smithers
- Accommodation in Smithers
How fit do I need to be?
In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have a very good level of fitness. You will be skinning for a few hours every day and skiing in variable terrain. You must be able to manage controlled descents in challenging conditions and have the stamina to ski tour for multiple days in a row. All participants should be very experienced on groomers and be able to carry a loaded daypack.
What equipment do I need to bring?
For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:
- Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
- Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
- Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
- Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
- Lightweight snow shovel
- Avalanche probe
- Light-weight ice axe — optional
- Ski crampons (may be available to borrow from guide, but check ahead)
- Harness for glacier travel
For personal items, we recommend bringing:
- Helmet — optional
- Sunglasses or ski goggles
- Winter hat
- Brimmed cap for sun protection
- Face warmer – scarf, neck tube or balaclava — optional
- Light gloves – wool, synthetic or leather
- Insulated gloves or mitts with waterproof outer shell
- Spare gloves or mitts
- Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-tex recommended)
- Warm insulated jacket – down or synthetic
- Light fleece or wool sweater
- Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants and jacket
- Waterproof breathable pants (i.e. Gore-Tex)
- Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear bottoms and top
- Wool or synthetic ski socks and liner socks
- Two locking carabiners
- Skin wax (or a candle)
- Two non-locking carabiners
- Prussik cord – 5m x 6mm — optional
- Sewn sling – 120cm — optional
- Binding repair kit to fix your personal travel setup
- Head lamp with good batteries
- Water bottle and 1L of water
- Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
- Lunch bag or container
- Pocket knife
- First-aid kit
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
- Duffle bag
- Shoes or sandals
- Winter boots for travel to the outhouse
- Hut clothing
- Towels and swimsuit for sauna
- Camera — optional
Note: Please do not transport your skis/poles in ski bags. Leave your ski bags at your hotel in Smithers. The helicopters have limited space and ski bags take up too much room.
Can I rent equipment?
All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:
- Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel and probe from Local Supply CO
- Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots and poles can be rented from Local Supply CO
- Splitboards can be rented from Local Supply CO
Ski rental location is in Smithers, BC, and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.
What’s the itinerary?
At the Burnie Glacier Chalet, you will spend eight days touring the surrounding backcountry terrain. Your days will be customized to match the skill level and objectives of your group. You and your guide will discuss route selection and whatever you’d like to focus on. From there, your guide will plan outings taking into consideration factors such as weather and snow conditions.
Depending on your objectives, full days may start earlier and end later, but in general, your days will look like this:
- 7:30 am: Wake up, have breakfast and get ready to head out
- 8:30 am -11:00 am : Gear up, go over safety considerations, and skin to the location of your backcountry ski tour
- 11:00 am – 3:00 pm: Spend the day backcountry skiing on routes selected to best suit your group, stopping for lunch and breaks as needed
- 3:00 pm: Back to the lodge for a fully catered dinner and a relaxing evening with an option for a sauna!
What is the minimum age requirement?
- Everybody over the age of 18 is welcome to book this backcountry skiing adventure.
- Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis. If you plan to ski with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
What about group sizes and pricing?
The Burnie Glacier Chalet can accommodate up to 11 guests at a time. Therefore, your group size can range from 1-11 people. All pricing is per person. A 50% deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The balance of payment is due 3 months in advance of the trip start date.
What about bad weather?
Mitigating avalanche risk is paramount for any excursion in the backcountry — that’s why it’s best to tour with a guide! Rest assured, your guide will set objectives that are attainable for the weather conditions on that particular day. Of course, inclement weather can always get in the way of backcountry skiing, but your guide will know the best course of action to take if the weather takes a turn. One advantage of the Burnie Glacier Chalet is that it’s location is well-protected from storms, accessed by a helicopter. On the rare occasion of truly bad weather, your guide will present you with suitable, safe alternatives.
Do I need an insurance policy?
We highly recommended that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.
As we’ve recently seen, travel plans can be abruptly halted, so it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance that covers cancelled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans. For peace of mind, we suggest you consider both options of insurance.
If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!
With 57hours, you benefit from both our own cancellation policy as well as that of the individual guiding service that delivers your adventure. All policies regarding cancellation will be clearly laid out by your guide after booking your adventure, but rest assured that our own cancellation policy will work on top of what is provided by your guide.
For this adventure, 57hours offers its Expedition Cancellation Policy, which states:
If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to one hundred twenty (120) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. For cancellations ninety (90) to one hundred nineteen(119) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking. For cancellations seventy five (75) to eighty nine (89) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of twenty-five percent (25%) of the total amount paid when Booking. After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.
For more information on terms and conditions, please visit our Terms of Service page.
To accommodate the uncertain nature of the present times, Sawback Alpine Adventures is offering a “cancel for any reason” add-on that you can purchase directly from Sawback Alpine Adventures if you decide it makes sense for you.
Sawback’s “Cancel For Any Reason” Add-on:
Sawback’s fees were set well before covid. These fees do not give us a margin to accommodate refunds in the event of a client-side cancellation, and therefore our booking contract is very strict. Clients have always been required to seek third party trip cancellation insurance if they are concerned about the risk of losing their fee if they can’t attend a trip.
As it is now impossible for clients to secure trip cancellation insurance for covid-related cancellations through insurance companies we are offering a clause to modify our standard booking policy for our Burnie 2021 trip.
For an additional $300 fee you can secure “cancellation for any reason” add-on for your trip. With this in hand, if you choose to cancel your trip (for any reason up until the day before your trip starts) you will receive a refund of your trip fee less 50%. From the trip start day onward there will be no refunds for cancellations as per our standard policy.
Please notify us if you would like to take advantage of this upon booking and we will add it to your invoice.
Government Mandated Closures Refund Policy:
If your trip has to be cancelled due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the following policy applies (except for those who have paid for our trip cancellation insurance, see above, in which case the greater refund of the two policies applies).
- If the lodge is shut down by order of civic or health authority more than 1 month before commencement, we will refund the trip in fee less 25% per person to cover expenses (including lodge maintenance and administration).
- If the cancellation for these reasons occurs less than 1 month but more than one week before commencement, we will refund your trip fee less 35% of the money paid.
- If the cancellation occurs less than one week before commencement, no money will be refunded.
- In all cases we will offer you a 10% discount on a future booking with Sawback Alpine Adventures (no expiry, non-transferable). This is applicable to all trips we offer including Ski & Sail trips.
Before traveling to the lodge, all guests will have to state whether they have been in an area with a pandemic outbreak within two weeks of their trip, and whether they have any symptoms that could be linked to Covid 19. Guests who meet those criteria will not be allowed on the trip and there will be no refund (except in the event that the guest has paid for trip cancellation insurance, see above). Guests who develop Covid 19 symptoms at the lodge will be evacuated and quarantined at their expense.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to Burnie, most people fly into Smithers Regional Airport. The airlines that service Smithers are Air Canada (Jazz) and Central Mountain Air. A free shuttle will take you from the airport to your hotel in Smithers (we recommend the Storknest Inn).
You can also fly into Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace, BC which is a 2.5 hour drive from Smithers. From there, you will need to rent a car.
On the morning of your adventure, you are scheduled to meet at the Silver King hangar (next to the airport, tel: 250-877-1989) in Smithers, BC at 10:30 am on Friday to fly into the Burnie Glacier.
Guides we recommend
IFMGA/ACMG Certified Guide
IFMGA/ACMG Certified Guide · 26 years of experience
Christoph DietzfelbingerChristoph Dietzfelbinger
IFMGA Mountain Guide, CAA professional member, M.A.IFMGA Mountain Guide, CAA professional member, M.A.
IFMGA Mountain Guide, CAA professional member, M.A.
Christoph has been a mountain guide since 1981. He trained and worked in the Alps until 1989, after which he started living in Canada full time. He has worked as an instructor on the Canadian mountain guides' training program and continues to teach professional avalanche courses. He has developed and run avalanche risk mitigation and alpine safety programs for industry. Since 2001, he has been working at the Burnie Glacier Chalet, which he built with the help of many friends in the Howson Range in British Columbia's northern Coast Mountains.
Sawback Alpine AdventuresSawback Alpine Adventures
Sawback Alpine Adventures
Tom Wolfe was our guide in a Jan 2018 trip to Burnie Glacier in northern BC. We had the whole range of conditions of conditions from *cold* deep snow to near melting point conditions. He did a great job along with his assistant guide (name escapes me now – from Quebec) of finding places to ski with the existing/variable conditions, (despite having a terrible cold for part of the time, where he broke trail nearly all day in *deep* snow with no complaints). I’d recommend his guide services any time!
Not only is Tom competent he is fun to travel with in the mountains. We saw things we would never have seen if we had gone self-guided in the Burnie Glacier area. Wonderful experience.
I feel very fortunate to have met Tom several years ago on a trip he was guiding to Burnie Glacier Chalet. I’ve now had the opportunity to ski with Tom extensively, including a week of skiing at Sunrise Lodge in the Esplanade Range this winter, and I will be skiing with him in Svalbard, Norway on his sail & ski trip in a couple of weeks, and I’ve already booked a week long trip to Selkirk Lodge with him in 2020. Having spent countless hours, days, weeks, and months skiing, climbing, and learning from IFMGA guides, I feel confident saying you can’t go wrong with Sawback Alpine Adventures and Tom Wolfe!
I’ve now spent 9 days in the mountains with Tom of Sawback Alpine Adventures. Tom is methodical in his snowpack analysis and does a great job of breaking down all the steps he takes to be safe. If you are keen on learning how to safely push your limits on snow, Tom does a great job on balancing safety and fun. My trips with him have always seemed to fully embrace the new slogan “send and return” where there is an equal amount of fun turns and exciting climbs as there are snowpack and weather observations.
Tom, the guide, plus the assistant guides were so courteous and attentive to the needs, not only of myself, but of everyone in the group. Tom knows how to provide excellent customer service!