|Burnie Glacier Chalet|
|Landing at the Lodge|
We were treated daily to delicious meals prepared by Monica and a warm sauna every evening to rest up the tired muscles for the next day. The Guiding on the trip was excellent. We traveled daily with ACMG Mountain Guides Conrad Janzen and Christoph Dietzfelbinger, who is also the owner of the Burnie Glacier Chalet. We had a great time getting to know both of them and I really appreciated their encouragement, patients and mountain travel tips through-out the week, especially on days when I was operating at the limits of my comfort zone. Having their support to try out some new things that I would never do on my own truly made this a memorable trip and is exactly why I love guided trips.
|Conrad and Christoph on Loft Peak; Photo by Bill Scott|
Unfortunately the snow was not as epic as we had hoped. Northern BC had the same warm spell as we did in the lower mainland, so the snow was icy for the first few days with breakable crusts in spots. However, the avalanche risk was low and travel was fast with clear sunny skies, which allowed us to get high into the alpine and do some long tours and climb some peaks. And part way through the week we did get some fresh snow which allowed for a couple days of fun powder turns on the Loft Glacier and Tom George Mountain.
|Sunrise on Solitaire Peaks|
Here is a write-up of our trip:
Day 1: Flying into the Lodge
|Sorting Gear for the chopper|
|Here we go! The ACC ladies: Willa, Amber and Margaret|
|Tony and the Pilot|
We arrived in Smithers, B.C. the night before and after a night and leisurely morning at the Stork Nest Inn, we headed over to the helicopter hanger for transport into the Chalet. It took us a couple hours to sort, weigh and load the gear into the choppers and after three full helicopter trips all 13 of us arrived at the Lodge by late afternoon. After having some soup and snacks and settling into our rooms we headed outside for a short tour and beacon practice before dinner. We enjoyed the evening relaxing and getting to know each other.
|Heading back to the Lodge for dinner after beacon practice|
Day 2: Climbing Solitaire Ski Peak
Today was our first real tour and was a moderate day compared to most other days. We left the Lodge at 8:30 am and skied up to the Solitaire Ski Peak. I quickly realized that limited skiing this year - only 6 days on skis and one ski-tour prior this trip - had been a bad idea. Fitness levels were OK thanks to lots of running and hiking, but my ski confidence could have been better. Next time, more training on skis!
|up, up, up!|
|Arriving at the Peak; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Almost there, only a short boot pack to the summit|
|Mandatory Hero Shot|
The tour took us about 6 hours overall with about 4.5 hours of skinning up, a short boot pack to the summit, lunch on top and about an hour to ski back to the Lodge. The skiing on the Solitaire glacier and off the side of the moraines beside the Burnie Glacier was fun and the snow was ok. It was bit challenging on the short tree section at the end where it was a bit icier, but it was manageable with some slide slipping and careful skiing. Overall, a fun day and good intro to the area.
|Paul and Willa; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Mike cranking turns down the glacier; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Yay, fresh trax!|
|Tony and Willa having fun!; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Tony and Margaret beside the Burnie Glacier; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
Day 3: Over the Burnie Glacier to Polemic Pass
|Mike on the uptrack; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
Our first long day. We headed up to the Burnie Glacier where did all kinds of cool things: we boot-packed up the Burnie step, weaved our way through the ice fall and across a crazy small snow bridge and then travelled up the glacier in an amazing amphitheatre of peaks until we reached Polemic Pass.
|Waiting to Climb the Burnie Step|
|Climbing the Burnie Step|
After a break on the Pass we skied the 1400m back down into the valley which entailed a bit of everything: fun glacier skiing, a steep and icy avi path, some single track through the trees and a "surprise" - a crazy steep, treed side slip - to get back down onto the marsh in the valley. from the marsh we enjoyed a leisurely tour back to the lodge for well-earned apres-ski. It was a full-on day but well worth the effort to explore another amazing area.
|Crossing the Burnie Glacier Ice fall; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Photo by Paul Geddes|
|Crossing the Snow Bridge; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Crossing the Burnie Glacier, heading toward Polemic Pass|
|Lunch Break at Polemic Pass|
|Skiing!; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Willa Almost back at the Lodge; Photo by Paul Geddes|
Day 4: Climbing Middle Solitaire
|Heading up to Middle Solitaire Peak; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
Another long, but rewarding day in the mountains. Today we headed back up the Solitaire glaciers destined for Middle Solitaire Peak. By the time we got to the base of the final climb to the summit I was feeling pretty tired and a bit intimidated by the peak and the windy and icy conditions. Looking up at the steep uptrack on an icy slope followed by a boot-pack up a steep couloir I was really uncertain about making it to the summit. I wasn't concerned about getting up the route, but getting back down was looking like another story.....
|Conrad helping us prep for the boot pack; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
I had decided that Middle Solitaire looked a little to intense for me and was going to wait for the group at the base, but after some coaxing and reassurance from Paul, Margaret and Mike I was convinced to give it a go. The skin up the steep slope went well after it was expertly prepared by Christoph and Conrad. At the top of the skin track Conrad helped us all get prepped for the boot pack and, still feeling a bit uncertain, I headed up with Conrad and Mike, benefiting form Conrad's pointers en-route. The climb up was hard work, but overall pretty fun.
|Conrad, Amber and Mike boot packing up Middle Solitaire; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Summit shot!; Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Views from the Summit|
|Views from the Summit|
|Down we go, time to ski!|
Once we were back down on the glacier Christoph took a group of us who preferred an easier (i.e. less steep) descent route and we took our time skiing back to the lodge while Christoph gave us pointers on what ski techniques to use in the areas of marginal conditions. Overall, even though the day was long and definitely tested my limits, it turned out to be the most memorable day of the trip for me.
|Christoph patiently waiting for us to catch up as he teaches|
us ski skills to get through the breakable crusts and icy sections
|Relaxing in our room back in the Lodge, waiting for the sauna to heat up|
Day 5: Rest Day
After a few long days and minimal training this winter, it was time for a break. I enjoyed the day reading, stretching, lounging around the lodge in the sun and socializing with Bill and Monica. The rest of the group headed up to Tom George Mountain for some skiing on corn snow.
|The Group heading out for the day|
|Willa Cruising. Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|The crew is back from a day in the Mountains. Beers in the sun.|
Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger
Day 6: Burnie Lake Easy ski day
Today we opted to take a break from long days and steep icy slopes and enjoy a leisurely day of exploring the valley. We skied from the Lodge out to Burnie Lake where we had heard rumours of a Face Tree existing a couple hundred meters off the shore. Once we reached the lake we travelled through the trees and after about a 20min search we discovered the face tree! It was very cool!
|Skinning Across Burnie Lake|
|We found the Face Tree!|
We then found a sunny spot on the shore and enjoyed our lunch amongst the peaks. After lunch we headed down the lake a bit to explore the area before turning back and heading home to the Lodge for Apres-ski and sauna time. On our way back it started snowing! We were all very excited for possible powder skiing the next day.
|Skiing across the lake.|
|Burnie Glacier Chalet|
|Relaxing in the Kitchen|
|Monica preparing another amazing meal|
Day 7: Loft Peak
|Fresh Snow! Photo by Paul Geddes|
|Heading up to Loft Peak. Christoph trail building in the icy trees.|
|Icy Tree Skinning|
|Snack Break on the Knob of Never Ending Love|
|Heading up the Loft Glacier, Stoked for some turns on the 10-15cm of fresh snow!|
From here we headed up the glacier, enjoying the fabulous views along the way. Unfortunately the clouds closed in as we reached the final climb to the summit obscuring our summit views, but no worries, we were all stoked for our first real powder run of the week!
|Conrad and Jim heading for the summit of Loft Peak. Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
|Margaret climbs up toward Hut Peak. Photo by Christoph Dietzfelbinger|
We enjoyed a sweet run down the glacier and part of the group decided it was so good they went for another 600m lap. The rest of us reasonable people headed down towards the valley enjoying some more turns along the way. We had to ski down the same route we took when came down from Polemic pass. We weren't really stoked about it as it had been a bit of a battle the first time around.
|Summit of Loft Peak|
Once again it was a quick tour through the flats and back to the lodge for Apres ski and sauna time.
Day 8: Tom George Mountain and Travelling Home
|Skinning up Tom George Mountain|
|Group shot on Tom George Mountain|
|Our ride home|
|Ready for Take-off|
Click Here for full Photo Album
Click Here for Conrad Janzen's Pics
|The Burnie Glacier; Photo by Conrad Janzen|