Welcome to our Sorcerer Lodge trip. 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.
If you get nothing else from this information package, please do the following:
Read the Guides waiver and Sorcerer 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 Sorcerer Lodge waiver.
Have a look at the gear list here and make sure you are able to bring everything on the list.
The final payment is due in September. I will remind you of the payment at that time.
This payment includes:
Two guides, cook and lodge custodian/tail guide
Helicopter transfer in and out of the lodge
Transport from Golden to the helicopter staging area
Gratuities for the staff (tipping is not required)
Important dates and times
All times are Mountain Standard Time (same as Calgary)
March 7, 8 PM
The evening before the trip we should all be in Golden as we meet very early the next morning. If you are planning to be elsewhere that evening please contact me and we can discuss options but it is best if you make plans to be in Golden that night.
We will have a group meeting that night at 8 PM at the Kicking Horse River Lodge. We will sign waivers and discuss logistics for the next day.
March 8, 7 am
We will meet in the morning at 7 AM at the Kicking Horse River Lodge. There will be breakfast available there.
We will make sure we are set for the week and then make the 30 minute drive to the helicopter staging area. Group transport is available and it is recommended to take this bus as otherwise you may have to do a lot of digging to get your vehicle out at the end of the week! The exception is if you plan on driving west after the trip, then it may make sense for you to park at staging.
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.
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 one run before dinner.
The first incoming flight should be coming in the morning and if all goes well we should all be out by mid-afternoon.
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. I don’t recommend you try to make a flight out of Calgary that day!
Getting to Golden
You can easily get to Golden from Calgary by renting a car. You may park your vehicle at the staging area for the week.
For directions on how to get from Calgary airport to Golden click here.
Transport from Golden to the staging area is provided by Sorcerer Lodge so groups may also charter a bus from Calgary to get to Golden and Sorcerer will get you to the staging area:
There are no other public transport options.
I can recommend the Kicking Horse River Lodge. They have shared dorm rooms, doubles and rooms for groups of 3 to 9. Click here. 1-250-439-1112.
There are many other hotels in town and 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. 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 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.
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 is not free. If a rescue is required it could cost many thousands of dollars. Rescue insurance is recommended.
Here are some options for coverage. Make sure to 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.
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.
Sorcerer Lodge is a comfortable, rustic backcountry lodge. It is three stories high. The first floor has a drying room/entrance with a propane heater, a self contained and fully-equipped kitchen, a living/sitting room, sun room and dining area. A large deck outside is perfect for beer and a BBQ on sunny spring afternoons. The lodge is warmed by a wood stove in the sitting room. We use solar power for lighting, backed up by a generator in early winter.
The second floor has four separate bedrooms with a variety of sleeping arrangements - from a room with a double bed, to a room with bunks. The third floor has rooms for the staff.
A wood heated sauna, complete with changing room is in a separate building. There are two outhouses a short walk from the lodge.
Sorcerer Lodge is an Internet Free Zone. This means that while you are visiting, your boss, fellow workers, family or curious friends will not be able to email or text you. You will be forced to go without that for a whole week and will have to have conversations, drink scotch, play games and listen to music after skiing powder all day. We are in 24/7 radio contact and there is a satellite phone for emergencies. The Sorcerer office is happy to relay messages for you. Cold turkey – you can do it!
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. There is no internet available at the lodge.
Satellite communicators like SPOT or InReach devices 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”!
You can tell your families that in an emergency they can contact you by calling the Sorcerer Lodge base and they can contact us on the radio.
Sorcerer Lodge – 1-403-344-2804, firstname.lastname@example.org
This trip has two lead guides and a tail guide. This means we have lots of 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:
Patti Oakley – Patti is well known in the backcountry lodge cooking scene. She lives in Golden and cooks in a variety of backcountry situations.
David Storwick. David will be custodian of the lodge as well as tail guide for the group. David has skied at least 52 weeks at Sorcerer, so he knows the place well!
TJ Neault 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, including at Sorcerer.
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.
You will need to organize beer, wine and other alcohol yourselves. Feel free to talk to each other to figure this out. Beer in cans works best.
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.
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:
Try to 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.
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.
If you have any questions let me know! Email me.