A couple years ago, N surprised me with what was the Best. Gift. Ever. for this skier – a week long trip to Powder Creek Lodge, a backcountry lodge located in British Columbia. It was a fantastic trip, and we both hoped we could do it again. When one of the folks we met that week let us know that he was organizing a trip for this past January, we didn’t hesitate.
What was even better this time around was that my brother came along. He’s become a backcountry skier – I’d like to think in part because of the many tales that N and I have recounted, but I can’t be sure – and since he had a significant birthday recently, he wanted to fete it in a significant way. We all agreed that a week of backcountry skiing in Canada was significant.
Cue to this winter. Or rather, non-winter. We’d had no opportunities to backcountry ski prior to the trip, thanks to little precipitation at Lake Tahoe. We were not alone, since many of the folks going on the trip were from Oregon, which had also seen little snow by January. It meant excitement ran high, even if ski fitness ran low.
Our timing was perfect this year. While our helicopter flight in was delayed a few hours due to weather, and while said flight in was much bumpier than I would have preferred, we got into the lodge on arrival day just before the real weather moved in, leaving us with over 3 feet of new snow in the first two days.
One of the many things I love about Powder Creek Lodge is the location. It’s situated at 7000 feet, just above treeline. There are low angle slopes in the trees, along with a variety of slopes in the alpine, ranging from wide open gentle slopes to steeper chutes. So we had ample options even when avalanche danger was high. It meant we skied 5-6 hours a day in search of untracked snow, which wasn’t hard to find.
Throw in running water, solar electricity, hot showers and a sauna, a full kitchen (we were self-catered, so this was important), stunning views and comfortable beds, and you can understand why Powder Creek Lodge is my perfect vacation. I’m pretty sure it became my brother’s as well, as he had a big grin the whole time – especially when he got turns like this.
Overall it was another great week. The group got along well, and had no real gear issues or injuries outside of some colorful blisters. And we found out later that it didn’t snow again there for another two weeks. Confirming that our timing could not have been more perfect.
If You Go
Powder Creek Lodge – This popular alpine style ski lodge offers both catered and self-catered options. Plan to book out a year in advance at a minimum.
Getting there – From Spokane it’s approximately a 3 hour drive to Nelson, where Powder Creek Lodge’s helicopter transportation is located. There is a shuttle service that goes from Spokane to Nelson if you don’t want to rent a car.
Hume Hotel – This recently renovated historic hotel in central Nelson is my favorite place to stay.
Mountain Hound Inn – These affordable accommodations are located on Nelson’s main drag, and the combination of location and price make it popular with skiers.
The Outer Clove – Groovy garlic themed restaurant with a pretty extensive menu and the ability to accommodate a large group makes it our go-to spot for dinner before we leave for Powder Creek. Two words – quasar burger.
Oso Negro Coffee – Nelson’s best coffee roaster and café. Your lodge mates will love you if you bring a pound or so of their beans with you.
Full Circle Café – Tasty breakfasts, and the fact that it opens at 6.30 am makes it a great option if you have to be at the helipad at 8 am.
Fresh Tracks Café – Located at Whitewater Ski Resort, it’s got an amazingly diverse menu (my favorite is the yam poutine with miso mushroom gravy). Perfect place for lunch on your way back home (assuming you’re not taking the shuttle). Also worth exploring if you have an extra day to ski or ride before or after your trip.