The Purcell Mountains of British Columbia are renowned for their ability to produce high-quality snow and provide excellent terrain for skiing & splitboarding. Our introductory backcountry ski training and splitboarding program at the comfortable Purcell Lodge is the perfect way to experience all that backcountry skiing has to offer. With a helicopter flight into the heart of the mountains, you will feel the remoteness of the area while learning the skills to backcountry ski and splitboard. Days will be spent skiing the treeline and alpine terrain with instruction on the way. There will also be a focus on avalanche awareness and companion rescue skills.
Purcell Lodge is a comfortable base for our program. This full-service lodge has comfortable amenities including a sauna and an onsite chef who will provide all meals on the program.
We meet in Golden, BC at 8:00 am at the Alpine Helicopters hanger (204 Fisher Road, Golden, B.C. V0A 1H0) where we will complete waivers and a safety briefing for the flight. Our short flight into Purcell Lodge is sure to be one of the many highlights of the trip. Once settled in the Lodge we will complete an avalanche companion rescue instruction and practice session before completing our first ski tour in the area. We will be covering the essentials of backcountry ski equipment, efficient travel techniques, and layering for comfort on a tour. Expect great views and some great turns!
In the evening we will have a short avalanche awareness presentation.
After an amazing breakfast, we will travel further from the lodge and look for longer powder descents that only backcountry skiing in the range can provide. These are the days that backcountry skiing is all about. We will also be consolidating your backcountry equipment use and look at building your track setting, corner building, and powder skiing skills.
You will welcome the lodges sauna and well-prepared meals at the end of these days!
With a morning flight from the lodge, we will arrive back in Golden addicted to backcountry skiing and planning our next trip into the backcountry.
Meeting Time and Place
We will meet at the Alpine Helicopters Hangar in Golden, BC at 8:00 am (MST) on day 1. (204 Fisher Road, Golden, B.C. V0A 1H0)
After introductions and an equipment check, we will be briefed on helicopter safety and have a scenic 15-minute flight from Golden to Purcell Mountain Lodge. Once settled in the Lodge we will complete an avalanche companion rescue instruction and practice session before completing our first ski tour in the area. We will be covering the essentials of backcountry ski equipment, efficient travel techniques, and layering for comfort on a tour.
The next two days will be spent in the backcountry areas around the lodge.
Guides and Group Size
Our instructors are certified professional ski guides who are licensed to teach and guide in the backcountry.
The Purcell Mountain Lodge Intro to Backcountry Skiing has a maximum of 8 participants per instructor with a minimum of 5.
Participants are responsible for their own transport to Golden, BC. Golden is a 2 hour (165km) drive west from Canmore. Helicopter transport to and from Purcell Mountain Lodge is included.
If you are flying from afar for the program, we suggest that you rent a car for your visit.
Accommodation and Meals
Purcell Mountain Lodge has been in operation for 28 years and is located in the Northern Purcell Mountains at 2200 meters. The luxury backcountry lodge is situated at treeline with stunning views into the Selkirk Mountains to the West and North. They take pride in offering guests a truly unique and unforgettable mountain experience. After a day of adventure, guests can relax and unwind in their three-story, timber-framed lodge. Rooms are located on the upper floor and all come with mountain views that are guaranteed to inspire and refresh. Each room has its own sink and vanity and across the hallway, you will find three private hot showers and three private bathrooms. Luxury in the backcountry is complete with an open dining area, cozy living room, cedar wood-burning sauna, quiet library, entertaining traditional board games and puzzles, and wood-burning fireplace.
Three nights’ accommodations at Purcell Mountain Lodge are included. Choose from single or double occupancy. There is an additional charge for single occupancy.
We recommend that you book your own pre and post-trip accommodations in Golden, BC if needed.
All meals are included from buffet lunch on day 1 to departure breakfast on day 4. Purcell Mountain Lodge’s gourmet chef will prepare fresh, wholesome mountain-inspired meals. The Lodge can cater to each guest by accommodating any special dietary restrictions or allergy concerns. Delicious appetizers are served each day after skiing with a cold beer, or a glass of signature BC wine from their bar selection. Alcoholic beverages are an additional cost.
Equipment and Clothing
Due to helicopter capacity guests are permitted 25lbs of personal luggage, plus a day pack with extra ski clothing and their ski equipment. Luggage should be packed in a small to medium-sized duffel bag (traditional suitcases are not appropriate).
Equipment & Clothing
You will need to bring:
Skis & Splitboard
Alpine Touring skis are essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding that allows the heel to lift whilst going uphill or across the flats and then locks down to become like a regular downhill binding. We recommend this system to anyone with a background in downhill skiing.
Splitboards – If boarding you need to be an advanced boarder and you must use a ‘splitboard’. A snowboard and snowshoe combination is not acceptable. Please don’t bring a board if you’ve never boarded in the backcountry before. Poles are essential for boarders.
- Skis/Splitboards: We recommend a short (160 – 185cm) wide ski designed for powder. Snowboards must be splitboards. Please see the note under rental information if you are renting ski equipment.
- Ski poles (for splitboarders as well)
- Climbing skins
- Daypack (large enough for spare clothes, lunch & equipment, 35L minimum recommended)
- Avalanche transceiver – a triple antennae digital transceiver. If you have an older style, single or double antennae, we will loan you a transceiver for the program.
- Avalanche shovel (collapsible metal shovel designed for companion rescue, loaners available on request).
- Avalanche probe (loaners available on request).
- Sunglasses and/or ski goggles
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1 – 2 Liters)
- Small Blister and Personal 1st-Aid Kit
- Headlight with extra batteries
- Helmet (recommended)
- Small repair kit for bindings, skis, or splitboard (this may include straps, nuts, bolts, small leatherman)
- Compass with clinometer
Additional gear info:
- Skis/splitboard: There are two viable backcountry systems, Alpine Touring and Splitboard.
- Alpine Touring: Essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which allows the heel to lift when going uphill and then locks down to become an alpine binding for the downhill.
- Splitboard: Snowboarders sometimes use a splitboard in the backcountry. This system is enjoyable on the descent, but frustrating on the flats. The transitions between uphill and downhill can also be very time-consuming. If using this system, please ensure that you are proficient at switching your bindings.
- Boots: Backcountry boots are different from regular alpine ski boots. In the backcountry, boots need to have an uphill mode that allows a free range of motion in the upper part of the boot. You should not use your regular ski boots for touring and walking uphill.
- Climbing skins: The glue on the base of the skin should be in good condition and the skins need to be properly fitted. Try the skins on your skis/splitboard to make sure they are the right length and width before you arrive.
- Ski poles: Backcountry poles need powder baskets on the tips.
- Avalanche beacon: A three antennae transceiver is required. Yamnuska uses the Backcountry Access Tracker S for all of our winter programs.
- Probe: A minimum of 240 cm in length.
- Shovel: A metal blade shovel is required.
- Hand Sanitizer
On the field days, there can be prolonged periods of inactivity in very cold temperatures. We recommend bringing extra layers. Light clothing of varying thicknesses that can be ‘layered’ to achieve comfort and versatility. The most important consideration for clothing is the ability to regulate temperature as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
- Long Underwear (top and bottom). They should be synthetic such as Capilene or Merino Wool. Patagonia Capilene and Merino base layers are good options.
- Warm pants (softshell, insulated, or fleece)
- Warm shirt (not cotton)
- Sweater or fleece jacket
- Insulated jacket or vest. This is essential for staying warm while taking breaks or when the weather gets really cold. The Patagonia Down Fitz Roy jacket is a good example of a warm insulated jacket.
- Waterproof jacket with hood and pants (Gore-Tex or nylon) A hardshell set up is essential when the weather turns really wet. Gore-Tex, H2NO or similar material works great. The Patagonia Torrent shell is a good example of a waterproof hardshell jacket.
- Socks – ski socks (wool or synthetic). A good pair of socks goes a long way in preventing blisters. (3 pairs)
- Wool or fleece hat that covers the ears
- Warm gloves and light glove liner
- Gaiters, only needed if your ski pants are not elasticized at the ankle
- Casual clothing for inside the lodge. Keep this to a minimum. Towels and linens are provided by Purcell Lodge.
- Bathing suit for the sauna
- Face Mask
Skis, Boots, Boards, Skins & Poles can be rented from:
- Calgary: Mountain Equipment Co-op. – 830-10 Ave. S.W. Calgary (Tel: 403 269-2420)
- Canmore: Gear Up – 1302 Bow Valley Trail (403 678-1636)
- Lake Louise: Wilson Mountain Sports – (1-866-929-3636)
*Please note that your ‘DIN’ or ‘Release Value’ settings on your ski bindings are critical to your safety while skiing. Our expectation is that everyone arrives on programs with their ski binding’s release value correctly set. We have noted that some ski rental shops will not set release values on touring bindings. We advise you to rent from a shop that will set release values on your ski touring bindings unless you are proficient and comfortable setting your own DIN/release value. Failure to have Release Values correctly set could result in a serious injury.
Please call our office if you have any questions.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require a 35% deposit at the time of booking with the balance due 8 weeks before the program start date.
We ask that you familiarize yourself with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Risk is an inherent part of all mountain activities. We strive to manage and reduce it however, it is impossible to totally eliminate. Learn more about our safety and risk management approach here. Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travellers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the national and provincial parks, however, costs such as air or ground transportation, long-term care, and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries, and other unplanned events. For these eventualities, Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical, and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure trip.
$2195 CDN includes return flight from Golden, BC to Purcell Mountain Lodge, double occupancy accommodation at Purcell Lodge, food from Lunch on day 1 to breakfast on day 4, instruction, materials and use of avalanche safety and snow study equipment. GST, PST and BC Room tax are extra.
Additional $250 CND for a single room supplement based on availability.
Not included: Transport to and from Golden, BC, food or accommodation before and after the course, alcoholic beverages (can be purchased at Purcell Lodge), gratuities.
Is it for you?
This program is perfect for guests who would like to experience backcountry skiing or splitboarding in a remote but comfortable setting. No previous experience is required however moderate hiking fitness and the ability to ski blue runs in any condition is required.