Welcome!

Welcome to our Burnie Glacier Chalet trips. I'm looking forward to skiing with my friends from our previous trips, and to meeting new group members!

Please read the following information carefully. It should answer most of the questions you may have. 

Click here if you are looking for a gear list.

If you get nothing else from this information package, please do the following:

  • Read the waiver carefully ahead of time. You don’t need to sign the waiver now, you will do that once you arrive for the trip. Click here to read the waiver.

  • Have a look at the gear list here and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list.

Final Payment

The final payment is due in September. I will remind you of the payment at that time.

This payment includes:

  • Transport around Smithers (airport pickup for the evening Air Canada flight, and transport to and from the helicopter staging area)

  • Helicopter transfer in and out of the lodge

  • Lodge accommodation

  • Two guides

  • Cook

  • Food

  • Gratuities for the staff (tipping is not required)

  • Powder skiing!

Important dates and times

All times are Pacific Standard Time (same as Vancouver)

Trip 1: January 31 - February 7 (George and Evelyne’s group)

JANUARY 30

Arrive in Smithers. See details on how to get to Smithers below. I will be arriving in Smithers on Air Canada 8564 at 6 PM.

JANUARY 31, 10.30 AM

Meet at the Silver King Helicopters hangar. Transport to the helicopter hanger and staging area is provided. There is no need to rent vehicles in Smithers. If you are driving yourself the address of the hanger is 6343 Ventura Boulevard, Smithers Airport.

After a helicopter safety briefing some of us will fly into the lodge from here while some will be driven to a staging area. This will all take at least a couple of hours. Once at the lodge we will get settled in and participate in a mountain safety briefing. This includes an avalanche rescue practice. There may be a short ski run on this day but do not expect a longer tour.

FOR THE FLIGHT YOU NEED TO BE DRESSED FOR SKIING INCLUDING SKI BOOTS.

Please bring a snack/sandwich on this day as you will not be eating lunch at the lodge until about 1.30 pm.

FEBRUARY 1-6

Skiing!

FEBRUARY 7

We should have time for a short ski in the morning. Flights out start late morning and if all goes well we will all be in Smithers by mid-afternoon. If there are no delays to the helicopter flights due to weather we will be in town in time to be able to catch an evening flight out of Smithers. If you are planning to spend more time in the Smithers area it makes sense to book that for after the Burnie trip rather than before in case there are delays flying out from Burnie.

Trip 2: February 7 - 14 (repeat offenders group)

FEBRUARY 6

Arrive in Smithers. See details on how to get to Smithers below. Note that I will already be up at the lodge so I will not see you in Smithers before the trip.

FEBRUARY 7, 10.30 AM

Meet at the Silver King Helicopters hangar. Transport to the helicopter hanger and staging area is provided. There is no need to rent vehicles in Smithers. If you are driving yourself the address of the hanger is 6343 Ventura Boulevard, Smithers Airport.

After a helicopter safety briefing some of us will fly into the lodge from here while some will be driven to a staging area. This will all take at least a couple of hours. Once at the lodge we will get settled in and participate in a mountain safety briefing. This includes an avalanche rescue practice. There may be a short ski run on this day but do not expect a longer tour.

FOR THE FLIGHT YOU NEED TO BE DRESSED FOR SKIING INCLUDING SKI BOOTS.

Please bring a snack/sandwich on this day as you will not be eating lunch at the lodge until about 1.30 pm.

FEBRUARY 8-13

Skiing!

FEBRUARY 14

We should have time for a short ski in the morning. Flights out start late morning and if all goes well we will all be in Smithers by mid-afternoon. If there are no delays to the helicopter flights due to weather we will be in town in time to be able to catch an evening flight out of Smithers. If you are planning to spend more time in the Smithers area it makes sense to book that for after the Burnie trip rather than before in case there are delays flying out from Burnie.

Delays

There is always the possibility of delays getting into or out of the lodge. Be prepared for this, especially on the last day of the trip. Although it seems most Burnie guests fly out on the Friday the more sure thing is to book a flight out on Saturday or later. This would give you time to do some skiing at Hudson Bay Mountain!

Getting to Smithers

The airlines that service Smithers are:

  • Air Canada out of Vancouver.

  • Central Mountain Air out of Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Flying out of Calgary may not be possible every day of the week and there are no direct flights.

Christoph at Burnie Glacier Chalet recommends that you do not fly with large ski bags as they may be left behind if room is limited in the small aircraft servicing Smithers. Use small ski bags or wrap your skis in the plastic bags that Air Canada supplies at the check-in counter.

Driving to Smithers in winter would almost certainly be an epic road trip. Even in good driving conditions it will take a very long time from anywhere. It is over 1100 km from Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.

Once in Smithers there is no need to rent a car. Transport is provided for you to and from the airport (evening flight only) and to the helicopter staging area.

Taxi

If you do need a taxi it is best to organize it ahead of time. Try these services:

Adventure Camp Tourism

Bulkley Valley Taxi: 1-250-847-2306

SMithers Accommodations

Stork Nest Inn is recommended, and this is the best place to stay if you want the free transport to and from the airport. This place will store any extra luggage you have.

There are a few other motel options in town that a Google search will find for you. You may need to get your own taxi to and from the airport, and organize your own luggage storage if you stay in a place other than the Stork Nest Inn.

The Logpile Lodge is a bit out of town but may be a good place if you are staying around Smithers for a few days.

Around Smithers

If you are eating in town Christoph recommends the Trackside Cantina in the old railway station, Masa Yama Sushi, Tandoori, Two Sisters, or the Blue Fin Sushi on Main. All are easy walking distance from the Stork Nest Inn.

Both Valhalla Pure on Main and Dawn to Dusk on Second are good sports stores with excellent service should you require something last minute.

Safety

Safety is our number one priority, from the time we start driving to the helicopter staging area to the moment we all head our separate ways at the end of the trip. There are a variety of ways you can help me and the other staff make this a safe trip:

  • Listen to the guides’ instructions and if you are uncertain of what is expected of you please ask!

  • Take an avalanche course with me! Click here.

  • Take the online avalanche course at the Avalanche Canada website. Click here.

  • Practice with your avalanche beacon prior to the trip – at the very least understand all of its functions and how to use them.

  • Bring hand sanitizer to the lodge and use it often – this will help keep any bugs we bring into the lodge at bay and we will be able to keep skiing!

Skiing together as a group is all about trust. The more we trust each other the more fun we will have because that means that we can ski the most interesting terrain available to us with the current conditions. The more prepared you are, the more I will trust you and the more comfortable I will be to get us into the best terrain.

Risk

It is important to understand that no matter how well prepared we are there is still an element of risk to backcountry skiing. To lower that risk, do the prep work I’ve outlined in the safety section. We will also do an intensive safety briefing and training session at the beginning of the week.

You will all need to sign two waivers that will make you well aware of that risk. One is for the lodge and one is for the guides – you will sign them when you arrive. Please have a look at the waiver at the links provided in this package so you understand what the risks are and what you will be signing when you get here.

Food and medical issues

If any of you have food allergies, medical conditions or specific food requests we need to know about, please let me know as soon as possible. We need to know food issues well ahead of time so we can plan the menu.

Mountain Rescue

In nearly thirty years of guiding we have only had three evacuations from the field for minor injuries or illness.

Mountain rescue in British Columbia may not be free. If a rescue is required it may cost you many thousands of dollars. Rescue insurance is recommended.

Here are some options for coverage. Research options carefully to make sure they are appropriate for your situation:

  • American Alpine Club Global Rescue package. For the cost of a membership in the AAC (US$80) you get US$7,500 mountain rescue insurance. This would probably cover all or most of the cost for many incidents.

  • Global Rescue. US$500,000 coverage. You need to be more than 100 miles from your home for this to kick in so it is not appropriate for clients on Canadian trips who live in proximity to Alberta or British Columbia.

  • Tugo. This may be less expensive than the Global Rescue $500,000 package and may be appropriate for trips in Canada. You will need the optional adventure sport coverage.

The schedule

The schedule over the week is simple: eat, ski, eat, sleep!

I’ve outlined the schedule for the flight days already. The ski days generally start with breakfast at 8 AM and we try to be on our skis and traveling by 9 AM. We plan to be back at the lodge between 4 and 5 PM. Then there are après ski snacks, sauna time, dinner at 7 PM, and then hit the sack.

Ski trips may be a series of shorter runs through the trees or in the alpine, or longer trips over the glaciers and to summits. With two guides there are options to split the group if some folks want shorter days and others want a longer one. Often we can do this by part of the group going home early or we can also have two separate objectives. It will be up to the conditions we encounter over the week combined with what you would like to do.

The Lodge

The Burnie Glacier Chalet is a backcountry lodge that offers all the charm of a European mountain hut, but instead of sharing it with dozens of others, you and your friends can enjoy some of the best backcountry skiing in Canada.

The bright and cozy post and beam lodge sleeps eleven guests, two guides, and one cook. It has two double rooms, one room with three, and one with four beds.

  • Two rooms with a double plus single bed (for couples or families or just two guests)

  • Two shared rooms

  • Bedding and two towels per guest

  • Sauna

  • Hydro electricity

  • Cold running water

  • Wood heat

  • Wireless internet (very limited bandwidth)

  • Clean, non-smelly outdoor toilet

  • Equipment rentals: lots of spare skis available

Thanks and gratitude go to the Wet’suwet’en House of Kwees for allowing Burnie Glacier Chalet to be built in their territory. And thanks to the many local craftsmen who volunteered hours of labour to help build the chalet with supplies of local wood.

Communications from and to the lodge

We will have radio communications during the day between the guides and the lodge. Emergency communications to the outside world may be by radio or satellite phones and devices.

Wireless internet is available but bandwidth is very limited. You should be able to message your family and friends but receiving/sending photos/videos or browsing data-heavy websites such as Facebook or news sites will not be possible.

Satellite communicators like SPOT or InReach devices also work well if you would like to keep in touch with your family.

In case of an emergency we will always be able to get word out by radio, satellite phone, or satellite text message. But all backcountry communications can be subject to disruptions so there is a chance your personal communications while at the lodge may be sporadic. It is best to tell your families “no news is good news”!

The staff

This trip has two lead guides. This means we have options as to how the group skis. We can split into two groups or ski as one group, depending on conditions and the desires of the group.

Here is the staff for this year’s trip:

  • Cook - to be announced!

  • Christoph Dietzfelbinger owns Burnie Glacier Chalet and is a fully certified ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide. He will be guiding on Trip 1 with George and Evelyne’s crew. I have worked with Christoph several times in the past and always enjoy it.

  • TJ Neault is a fully certified ACMG Ski Guide and will be guiding on Trip 2 with the Repeat Offenders. I've worked with TJ many times in the past.

  • Mark Klassen – That’s me. I’ve been working as a ski patroller, avalanche forecaster and guide since the mid 80’s. In the summer I guide mountaineering and rock climbing. I’ve been a fully certified ACMG/IFMGA mountain guide since 1996.

Booze

Beer and wine is available at the lodge “at reasonable prices”. Bringing your own beer and wine may be possible but space is limited and it is the first thing that is left behind if there is not room on the helicopter. Beer in cans works best. You will need to organize any other alcohol yourselves. Feel free to talk to each other to figure this out.

Luggage

For your incoming luggage please try to keep things to three packages:

  • Your skis and poles (strapped together) . Two ski straps work best to keep skis and poles in one tidy package. No ski bags.

  • Your day pack with all your gear for the ski days.

  • As small a duffle bag you can get away with to put the rest of the gear into (or two small duffles). Small bags are easier to load into the helicopter.

Some pointers on packing:

  • Keep your ski pack and duffel to about 15 kg/35 lbs.

  • We will not accept very large duffels (like hockey bags) or bags/luggage with hard sides or wheels as they are too difficult or impossible to pack into the helicopter. You need to bring smaller, soft duffel bags.

  • No ski bags.

The bottom line

  • Read the guiding waiver carefully ahead of time. You don’t need to sign the waiver now, you will do that once you arrive for the trip. Click here to read the waiver.

  • Have a look at the gear list here and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list.

Questions?

If you have any questions let me know! Email me.

Banner photo courtesy Burnie Glacier Chalet