Welcome to our Hilda Hut trip, March 22-29, 2020. I'm looking forward to skiing with my friends from our previous trips, and to meeting the new members of the group!
Please read the following information carefully. It should answer most of the questions you may have. There is a gear list at the end.
If you get nothing else from this information package, please do the following:
Read the Guides waiver and Hilda Hut waiver carefully ahead of time. You don’t need to sign the waivers now, you will do that once you arrive for the trip. Click here to read the Guides waiver. Click here to read the Hilda Hut waiver.
Have a look at the gear list and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list. Click here.
The final payment is due in September. I will remind you of the payment at that time.
This payment includes:
Helicopter transfer in and out of the lodge
Gratuities for the staff (tipping is not required)
Important dates and times
All times are Pacific Standard Time
March 22, 8.00 AM
We will meet at the helicopter staging area near Burton, British Columbia. It is 2 km south of Burton off Highway 6 west. Take Rebazzo Road, then turn right onto the beach road, approximately 400 m from the highway. This is the same place as the Valkyr Lodge trip last year.
Directions from Kelowna are here.
Directions from Revelstoke are here.
Directions from Nelson are here.
At the staging area we will do a helicopter safety briefing and then start flying into the lodge. This will all take at least a couple of hours.
FOR THE FLIGHT YOU NEED TO BE DRESSED FOR SKIING INCLUDING SKI BOOTS.
Please bring a lunch for yourself for this day.
Once arriving at the lodge we will move in and then participate in a ski safety briefing and rescue practice. We may be able to do some skiing before dinner.
We will start the flights out around 9 AM. If all goes well we should all be out at the staging area by early afternoon.
There is always the possibility of delays getting into or out of the lodge. Be prepared for this, especially on departure from the lodge. I don’t recommend you try to make a flight out of Kelowna that day.
At the beginning of the trip, in the event it is unsafe to fly due to bad weather, the exchange will be postponed to the following day. If this occurs, you will be responsible for your own overnight accommodations. There are inexpensive motels in Nakusp.
Getting to the staging area
The nearest all-weather airport is Kelowna, with many daily flights from Calgary and Vancouver. Directions from Kelowna to the staging area in Burton are here. Note that this route involves a ferry at Needles, which runs every half hour at 15 minutes and 45 minutes past the hour. The first ferry is at 5.15 AM and the last one is at 9.45 PM. Travel time is about 3 hours 15 minutes if the roads are good.
You may also reach Burton from Revelstoke. Directions are here. This also involves a ferry at Shelter Bay, which runs every hour on the hour. The first ferry is at 5.00 AM and the last one is at midnight. Travel time is about 2 hours 15 minutes if the roads are good.
Lastly, you can reach Burton from Nelson. Directions are here. Travel time is about 2 hours 30 minutes if the roads are good.
If you are looking for transport options other than a rental car you can try A1 Bus Ltd. They may be able to provide a transfer from Kelowna or Revelstoke.
I recommend staying close to Burton the night before the trip. There are limited accommodations near Burton itself but the nearest large town is Nakusp, which has several options. A Google search will get you the best deals.
Safety is our number one priority, from the time we start driving up 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.
We have a lot of staff on this trip so there is plenty of back up in case of an incident.
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.
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 waivers at the links in this information 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.
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.
Beware of regular travel insurance companies offering mountain rescue insurance. They may not cover the activities we will be partaking in, and may not include technical rescue services.
The schedule over the week is simple: eat, ski, eat, sleep! There may be some drinking too but that’s up to you! Everything else is mandatory.
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 by about 4 PM or so. Then there are après ski snacks, sauna time, dinner at 7 PM, a drink or two and then hit the sack.
Ski trips may be a series of shorter runs through the trees or in the alpine, or longer trips and tours in a variety of terrain, including the possibility of skiing to some summits. With more than one guide at the lodge 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.
Hilda Hut, opened in 2012, is nestled in the big spruce forests beneath Mount Hilda. The lodge is situated at 1,920 meters on the east side of the Valkyr Range. It is a spacious 3 stories and can accommodate 12 guests in 6 private rooms with additional bedrooms for staff. The bedrooms are fully outfitted with quality bedding including down duvets. Hilda Hut also features a large entry way/ drying room, shower, 2 toilets, fully outfitted kitchen, large cold pantry with fridges and freezer, internet access, AC power generated by a micro hydro plant, 2 wood stoves and a separate wood-fired sauna hut with a shower room.
Hilda Hut offers access to 4,000 hectares of terrain in the Valkyr Range covering 9 unique zones on Mt. Hilda, Mt. Prough, and Mt. McBride. There is plenty of steep skiing right out the door in the home basin and there’s more exciting skiing just over the ridgeline! From steep and challenging alpine drops to treed runs through old growth forests experienced backcountry skiers will be thrilled and challenged by the Hilda terrain.
Communications from and to the lodge
We will have radio communications during the day between the guides, the lodge and the lodge owners in the valley.
There is usually good wireless internet access at the lodge so you can be in contact with your family before and after the ski day. It is a backcountry satellite connection though, so occasionally it will be slow or will not be working.
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”!
Satellite communicators like SPOT or InReach devices also work well if you would like to keep in touch with your family.
While you are the hut, your family may contact the Valkyr Adventures office at 1-888-482-5597 and email@example.com if they cannot get hold of you.
This trip has two lead guides. We will not have a tail guide this year but we can still 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:
Charlotte Sit (cook) – Charlotte cooked for us last year and she was a hit. She lives in Revelstoke and cooks at a variety of backcountry lodges.
TJ Neault (guide) - TJ is a fully certified ACMG Ski Guide and will be the second guide on the trip. I've worked with TJ many times in the past and most of you have skied with him before.
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. Click here for my bio.
We can order a keg of beer if we wish. Please let me know if you would like to do that.
You are also welcome to bring your own alcohol but remember, your luggage allowance is 15 kg/35 lbs and a bottle of wine is about a kilo! Beer in cans works best.
For your incoming luggage please try to keep things to three packages:
Your skis (strapped together) and poles.
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 waivers carefully ahead of time. You don’t need to sign the waivers now, you will do that once you arrive for the trip. Click here to read the guiding waiver. Click here to read the Sol waiver.
Have a look at the gear list here and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list.
If you have any questions let me know! Email me.