Welcome!

Welcome to our Sol Mountain Lodge trip, December 23-30. I'm looking forward to skiing with my friends from 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:

  • Fill out the Guest Information Form. Click here now to fill out the form. Parents - please do one for each child.
  • Read the Guides waiver and Sol Lodge 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 Sol Lodge waiver.
  • Have a look at the gear list at the end of this information package and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list.

what is included

This trip price includes:

  • Guides, cook and lodge staff
  • Helicopter transfer in and out of the lodge
  • Lodge accommodation
  • Food
  • Gratuities for all staff
  • Powder skiing!

Important dates and times

All times are Pacific Standard Time

december 23, 7.30 AM

You will meet in the morning at 7.30 AM at the River Ridge Golf Course near Cherryville, BC. Breakfast is available at the golf course.

There is also a flight originating in Revelstoke, with four seats available. The group can discuss who takes this flight. If on this flight, meet the pilot at the Arrow Helicopters at the Revelstoke airport at 8 am. The airport is here.

If you are driving yourself to the golf course, directions from Vernon are here

If flying into Kelowna, for groups of three or more, A1 Bus Ltd provides full transfer from the airport to a hotel, and then to the staging area the next morning.

After breakfast and signing waivers, we drive to Cherryville and then turn left at the Tempo Gas and go 20 minutes north to our helicopter staging area. You will see the bright Sol Mountain sign on your right.  Directions 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.

Toddlers less than two yrs old and small children must be in a child seat (can strap in one to use for exchange). 

Once arriving at the lodge we will move in, have lunch, and then participate in a ski safety briefing and rescue practice. We may be able to do some skiing before dinner.

December 24-29

Skiing!

december 30

Anyone who is not on the first flight out of the lodge should be able to get a run or two in on the last morning of the trip. If all goes well we should all be out at the staging area by early afternoon.

Delays

There is always the possibility of delays getting into or out of the lodge. Be prepared for this, especially on December 30. I don’t recommend you try to make a flight out of Kelowna that day. 

On December 23, 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.

Getting to vernon and the staging area

The nearest all-weather airport is Kelowna, with many daily flights from Calgary and Vancouver. 

If flying, there is no need to rent a car for this trip. For groups of three or more, A1 Bus Ltd provides full transfer from the airport to a hotel, and then to the staging area the next morning.

For guests flying into the Kelowna International Airport, the Vernon Airporter provides shuttle service to Kelowna, Vernon, and Silver Star ski area.

If you are driving yourself, directions to the morning meeting place at River Ridge golf course from Vernon are here and directions from there to the helicopter staging area are here

Pre-trip Accommodations

For accommodations in Vernon, Sol Lodge guests receive a discounted rate at the Best Western Plus and Fairfield Inn and Suites, or the Twin Creeks Motel in Lumby at 250.547.9221.  

For accommodations in Revelstoke, Sol guests get reduced rates at the Revelstoke Gateway Inn, 1.877.837.8337.

There are many other hotels in both towns and a Google search will get you the best deals. 

Safety

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.

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.

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 above 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 I 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 I have only had three evacuations from the field for minor injuries or illness. Read on to decide whether you wish to purchase rescue insurance. 

Mountain rescue on British Columbia provincial lands is normally free if proper channels are followed for the call out. In these areas rescue teams are volunteers and response may not always be rapid. In certain emergency conditions your guide may initiate a rescue outside the accepted call out procedure to ensure a rapid extrication. In this case rescue costs in the thousands of dollars may not be covered by the government. Non-emergency evacuations (e.g. an evacuation from a backcountry hut due to a minor injury or illness) may also not be covered. You may wish to purchase mountain rescue insurance for this trip.

PURCHASE MOUNTAIN RESCUE INSURANCE

If you want to buy mountain rescue insurance I recommend joining the American Alpine Club for US$75, for which you get US$7,500 mountain rescue insurance. This would probably cover most of the cost for a majority of incidents. You can also upgrade to get US$500,000 coverage. Click here to learn more.

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.

Sol Mountain Lodge also offers helicopter evacuation insurance. This would cover a simple helicopter evacuation for minor injury or illness where other outside resources are not called upon. It would not cover the cost of a technical rescue if one were required and the government declined to pay for it. You may buy this insurance at the lodge on the first day of the trip.

The schedule

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 earlier (it gets dark early at that time of year). 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.

There is also opportunities for snow shoeing, cross country skiing and tobogganing near the lodge.

The Lodge

Not to be called a cabin or hut!  The three-story lodge was designed by backcountry skiers for backcountry skiers. Sol Mountain has comfortable private bedrooms, indoor bathrooms and hot showers, a toasty drying room, a wood-stove heated sauna, yoga and stretching studio, a full-service kitchen and bar, and high quality chef-made cuisine.

Communications from and to the lodge

We will have radio communications during the day between the guides, the lodge and the local helicopter and guiding companies. Radios are also available for guests.

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. It is always best to tell your family that "no news is good news". Even if the internet is down, we will be able to contact the outside world via radio or satellite phone if required.

The Sol office may always be contacted at 250-674-3707 and info@solmountain.com.

The staff

We will have two lead guides, a tail guide, a cook and two lodge staff on the trip:

  • Sue Shih is the cook for the week so obviously the most important person at the lodge! Sue has cooked at various backcountry lodges before, and at the Paintbox Lodge in Canmore. She lives in Banff.
  • Tail guide: Erica Wilson
  • TJ Neault is a fully certified ACMG Ski Guide and will be the second guide on the trip. I've worked with TJ several times in the past. He lives in Calgary and Invermere.
  • 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.
  • The lodge managers will be Dave Marfleet and his helper will be Ryan.

Booze

You can bring your own but there is a full service bar in the lodge (including wine). House wine is available by the glass at $2, or a half litre is $7, or 1 litre at $14. Local (Mt. Begbie) or import beer is $4/can or $5/ tall can. 

Remember, in addition to your skis and skiing pack, you are only allowed 20 lbs/9 kg of personal items - and a bottle of wine is about a kilo!

Luggage

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. The maximum allowed weight for this bag is 20 lbs/9 kg.

Some pointers on packing:

  • We will not accept very large duffels (like hockey bags) or bags/luggage with hard sides or wheels. You need to bring smaller, soft duffel bags.

The bottom line

  • Fill out the Guest Information Form. Click here now to fill out the form. 
  • 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 Lodge waiver.
  • Have a look at the gear list at the end of this information package and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list.

Questions?

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

Lodge-based ski touring gear list

You need to have everything on the list!

I can provide safety gear such as shovel, probe, transceiver and harness. Let me know as soon as possible if you need any of this.

I provide transceiver rentals for $80/week, all other equipment I provide free of charge.

Avalanche transceivers – IMPORTANT

Your transceiver has to have been manufactured since 2001 (so it meets EN 300718 standard). It is best if your transceiver is less than 10 years old. 

We only allow modern digital transceivers on our trips.

Modern transceivers can have compatibility issues with transceivers manufactured before 2001 and any analog transceivers even if they work on the same frequency.

The manufacturer should have tested your transceiver within the last 3 years. If this hasn’t been done you must have tested your transceiver yourself for distance in both transmit and receive modes – it needs to have a signal at a minimum of 30 metres.

No "analog" transceivers are allowed. We also do not allow some older style digital transceivers. 

The following transceivers are not allowed on this trip:

  • Ortovox: F1, M1, M2, X1, D3, Patroller, Patroller Digital
  • SOS: all types
  • Pieps: Vector (recalled) and Freeride
  • Others: any transceiver manufactured before 2001

I can recommend the following transceivers for those of you who do not have a lot of experience searching with transceivers:

  • Mammut (Barryvox) Element
  • Pieps DSP Sport
  • Backcountry Access Tracker 2

I can recommend the following transceivers for those of you who are willing to do a lot of practice searching with transceivers:

  • Mammut (Barryvox) Pulse
  • Pieps DSP Pro
  • Backcountry Access Tracker 3

There are many other transceivers available. If they are sold by MEC they are acceptable. However, I do not have extensive experience in some other types so will not be able to help you learn about them as well as the recommendations above.

Let me know if you would like more information on transceivers.

If your transceiver does not meet the specifications above you will not be going skiing!

Common Equipment Problems

Issues we see with ski equipment include the following. Some of these problems might end your ski week or at least make life very frustrating! Make sure you have these things sorted out before the trip.

  • Slow skis/boards. Make sure your bases are smooth and waxed! A tune-up for your skis/board is well worth the investment.
  • Inappropriate backcountry skis/boards: too heavy, too narrow or skis/boards that are not backcountry specific. Try to keep your set-up as light as possible. Ski width under your foot should be in the 95-105 mm range, give or take. Narrower than this and you may have issues in deep snow or crust conditions, wider than this is often too heavy.
  • Old skins. Make sure your skin glue is in good shape and get them fixed if the glue is dirty, in clumps, or the glue has worn off at the edges or ends of the skins. If your skins don't work you can't go skiing. Some shops can replenish or re-glue skins for you or you can do it yourself. Here are a couple of tutorials: Replenishing Re-glueing
  • Boot problems. Ill-fitting boots will give you blisters. And all boots have bolts and rivets that may come loose. If your boots are brand new or well-worn make sure fittings are tight and in good shape. Bring specific tools to tighten the bolts/screws on your boots and check them a couple of times over the week.
  • Binding problems. Beware of the following bindings:
    • Any Naxo bindings
    • First generation Diamir Vipec bindings (manufactured 2012-2013)
    • Early generation G3 Onyx or Ruby bindings (2008-2010) - more info here 
    • Dynafit Radical 1.0 (manufactured 2011-2012) - see information for a recall here.

Skiing Equipment

Make sure all ski gear is in good shape and you are familiar with its use.

  • AT touring skis or telemark skis or splitboard
    • Understand that telemark and snowboard bindings may not be releasable and greatly increase your risk if caught in an avalanche. 
    • No snowboard/snowshoe combinations, splitboards only.
  • Skins
  • Boots: If they are new ensure you have the fit worked out! I recommend a professional boot fitting.
  • Digital avalanche transceiver. See recommendations above.
  • Avalanche shovel
  • Avalanche probe (see a G3 probe recall here)
  • Skin wax: I find a simple candle works fine.
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles
  • Water bottle and/or thermos
  • Small headlamp
  • Small personal first aid/repair kit: band aids, blister kit, headache pills, hand and toe warmers, extra batteries for transceiver and headlamp, duct tape, pocket knife, special binding and boot parts.
  • Toilet kit: toilet paper, baggie for used paper, hand sanitizer
  • Camera
  • 30-40 L capacity backpack. All your gear and clothing must fit in your pack. Nothing should be strapped to the outside.
  • Optional safety gear: ski helmet, Avalung, balloon pack. Some airlines will not allow the canisters for balloon packs on the aircraft. Please check with your airline well before you arrive at the airport. Click here for info on how you can fill your own canisters when traveling.

Clothing systems

  • Several thin layers are better than fewer thicker layers. No cotton!
  • Long underwear tops and bottoms - wool or synthetic
  • Ski pants – softshell or light hardshell pants both are fine
  • Thin windbreaker/softshell - for walking uphill in warm conditions
  • Warmer softshell jacket – I prefer a hooded jacket but it’s absolutely necessary
  • Shell jacket – to keep the wet out, Gore-tex or similar seems best
  • Down or synthetic jacket – for breaks and emergency use
  • Lightweight gloves – for walking uphill in warm conditions
  • Warm gloves – 2 pairs (mittens are optional but recommended if you get cold hands)
  • Hand warmers if you get cold hands
  • Toque
  • Balaclava or neck tube – essential for cold conditions
  • Sun hat

Lodge gear

  • Lodge slippers or shoes
  • Casual street clothes for the lodge
  • Toiletries
  • Towel and sauna gear
  • Ear plugs

The Lodge will provide:

  • Bedding
  • Toilet paper

Travelling

  • U.S. and foreign participants need passports to travel to Canada. Ensure the expiry date is well after the trip ends.
  • Airplane tickets.

Group Gear

Each guide will provide:

  • Group first aid kit
  • Group repair kit
  • Emergency toboggan/shelter
  • Radio
  • GPS, compass, map etc
  • Good looks and bright personalities

Extra Ski Gear

  • There are extra AT skis with bindings and skins that should fit most people available at the lodge.
  • If there are telemarkers or snowboarders on the trip it is worthwhile to consider bringing one extra pair of skis or board.
  • We will have one extra pair of ski poles.