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Golden | British Columbia

Heli-Accessed Backcountry Skiing at Vista Lodge

Season

Late November through mid-April

Nearest city

The staging area is 20 minutes from Golden, BC

Duration

8 days

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced

Superb spring skiing in this Selkirks mountain getaway

One of the best features of Vista Lodge is how easy it is to get to! Staging is just a few metres off the Trans Canada Highway, 20 minutes from Golden, BC. Then, a short helicopter ride gets you to the world-famous snow. The ski season in the Selkirks is over 200 days long, and Vista Lodge is one of the best places for epic spring shredding — minus the crowds. You can expect lots of alpine and treed lines, with everything from gentle open slopes to steep pillow lines, with 1100 to 1300 meters skied per day on average.

Book This Adventure

Backcountry Skiing at Vista Lodge

$2320 per person · 8 Days

Vista Lodge is located in the middle of a beautiful alpine meadow at the edge of Vista Lake. Vista is famous for its spring skiing, its five drainages offer a myriad of terrain choices. It’s perfectly positioned within the range and a portal to the big alpine zones off Cherub Glacier to the west. A heli ride gets you to the lodge, which sleeps up to 12 guests plus guides and has a professional chef — meaning warm meals after full days of skiing. It also has a wonderful sauna for a relaxing end to the day!

Itinerary

On Saturday morning, you’ll meet at 7:00 am, and head to the staging area a half-hour from Golden. Then, it’s a helicopter ride to the Vista Lodge, where you’ll get situated and have a safety briefing before heading out with your guide for a day of ski touring in the area. With five drainages, there will be plenty to explore for the week.

You will put on your climbing skins and climb above the hut. Depending on your group, you may head for Cupola Peak, 2,640 meters (8662 feet) tall, an easy knife-edge climb from the ridge. No matter where you end up, your guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group. Each evening your group will discuss goals for the next day while enjoying gourmet food prepared by a professional chef. Enjoy your favorite cocktail and relax in the wood-heated sauna before hitting your room for night’s rest.

In the morning, you’ll head out for another day of ski touring. Each day, exploring new terrain or revisiting favorite runs from the day before. Depending on the group, you will ski between 1100 and 1500 meters per day. The area offers more than 150 square kilometers of non-glaciated alpine and treeline terrain and powder skiing in trees, meaning you can choose from a number of options and locations — there’s more than 150 lines in the area! The Esplanade offers every aspect from sunny south facing to big 3,000 feet vertical north facing runs. Over eight fun-filled days in the backcountry, you never have to ski the same line twice!

Things you need to know

Covid measures in Golden, BC

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.

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 Golden, please refer to the Tourism Golden or British Columbia websites.

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!

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

    • An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • 7 full days of backcountry ski touring
    • Helicopter transfers to and from the lodge
    • Accomodation with a sauna
    • All meals prepared by a professional chef

In case of special dietary needs, please contact us and we can make arrangements (additional fee applies).

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Trip insurance
    • Transportation to and from Golden and the staging area
    • 5% GST

How fit do I need to be?

In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have an excellent level of fitness as this is a full week of ski touring. Your guide will choose the appropriate pace and terrain for your group, but you will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions and be able to skin uphill for a few hours at time carrying a loaded daypack.

For the Relaxed Pace: You should be capable and happy to ski up to 1100 m/day, give or take. On average, ski runs will be of intermediate difficulty. This is hard to translate into ski resorts, but generally this means that you are comfortable on black diamond runs, even if it means taking your time, and in a variety of conditions (icy, deep powder, breakable crust).

For the Classic Pace: You should be happy with days in the 1300-1500m range. On average, ski runs will be of intermediate difficulty (as in the Relaxed Pace) but there will often be pitches of advanced difficulty as well as steeper tree runs and rugged alpine snow conditions involving hard and sastrugi surfaces.

What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?

This adventure is suited for intermediate to advanced skiers. If you’ve never backcountry skied before, we recommend checking out the beginner options in Golden you can choose from.

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
  • Ski crampons

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

  • Helmet
  • Head lamp with good batteries
  • Sunglasses or ski goggles
  • Gloves and hat
  • Long underwear top (synthetic or wool)
  • Light fleece or wool sweater
  • Lightweight wind jacket (nylon or ‘Schoeller’)
  • Waterproof – breathable shell jacket
  • Warm insulated jacket (down or synthetic)
  • Pair of wool or synthetic socks and liner socks
  • Pair wool or synthetic underwear
  • Long underwear bottoms (synthetic or wool)
  • Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants
  • Waterproof breathable shell pants (full zip is best)
  • Handkerchief
  • Down or synthetic camp booties — optional
  • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
  • Insulated water bottle and 1.5-2L of water
  • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
  • Food you can eat on-the-go
  • First-aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
  • Camera — optional
  • Duffle bag for flying into the lodge
  • Shoes or sandals
  • Winter boots for travel to the outhouse
  • Hut clothing
  • 1-2 towels and swimsuit for sauna
  • Personal medications and toiletries
  • Chargers for electronic devices (normal AC power is available via micro-hydro)

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 will be made available to you by your guides for free
    • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots and poles can be rented from Higher Ground Sports.
    • Splitboards can also be rented from Higher Ground Sports.

Ski rental location is in Golden, 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 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.

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.

What about group sizes and pricing?

The Vista Lodge can accommodate up to 12 guests at a time. Therefore, your group size can range from 1-12 people. All pricing is per person. A $500 deposit to secure your place is due upon booking.

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 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.

On the rare occasion of truly bad weather, your guide will present you with suitable, safe alternatives. The most common practice is to move to a nearby location if it exists, or to reschedule your backcountry ski tour to a more favorable day.

If backcountry skiing is not possible on your scheduled day and no options presented are viable, you will be issued a full refund.

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!

Cancellation policy

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 a 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.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Golden, most people fly into Calgary International Airport which is a 3 hour drive away. You can rent a car or take a shuttle service connecting Calgary Airport to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Shuttles are operated by BanffShuttle and RiderExpress.

Kicking Horse River Lodge is a great place to stay the Friday night before the trip. They can handle a group with room rates that start from around $40/night. Clients guided with Sawback get a discount, but you must phone them directly. It’s a nice timber frame building on the Kicking Horse River. We meet here Friday night and breakfast is here Saturday morning so it is convenient. If you choose to stay here please book early. It fills quickly.

The meeting place for your trip is at the Golden Alpine Holidays office. Your meeting time will be Saturday morning at 7:00 am Mountain Standard Time (MST). Flights to GAH lodges take place at the helicopter Staging Facility, 30 minutes away from Golden. You’ll head to your tours from the lodge. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.

Reviews

Great job!
Marc F. about 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.

Excellent customer service!
Marilyn F. about Tom Wolfe

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!

Adventure of a lifetime
Dean P. about Tom Wolfe

My family and I had the adventure of a lifetime. It was an incredible experience and Sawback did an excellent job. We would highly recommend the trip and Tom to everyone.

Best skiing of my life!
Iwona E. about Tom Wolfe

Best skiing of my life! Awesome people, fantastic guides, and superb choice of terrain, and let us not forget all that delicious food. I will come back for more!

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