Delicious smells wafting from the kitchen and friends laughing on the patio make up the summer vibe at Buckhorn & Main Mountain Eatery. With potted flowers outside and rustic cabin-like styling indoors, the restaurant weaves itself seamlessly into the mountain landscape. Buckhorn & Main is connected to the Trickle Creek Lodge at Kimberley Alpine Resort and is the perfect jumping off point for your next summer get-away. The reason you’ll want to come back year after year though, is because of people like Food and Beverage Manager – Shawna Crawford.
Shawna’s been with the resort since 2000 when the restaurant first opened as Kelsey’s. She fondly remembers celebrating Mother’s Day there with her then 18-month and 4 year old daughters. Her girls were raised in the small community of Kimberley and largely at the hill. This fuels her passion for patrons to experience the same friendly and comfortable environment her own family had growing up in the area.
In spite of being the gateway for an endless number of activities, Kimberley has maintained it’s small town, off-the-beaten-path feel. Locals have an inherent pride of where they are from and extend the invitation to visitors to enjoy their town as locals too. When the restaurant ended it’s franchise with Kelsey’s and launched Buckhorn & Main Mountain Eatery it was only natural that it was named after one of Kimberley’s own favourites, the beloved fixed-grip lift the “Buckhorn” and the longest night skiing run in North America the, “Main.”
With the restaurant, golf, biking and hiking trails, swimming and hot tubs all on the hill, staying at Trickle Creek or the Polaris Lodge make for a nice locale to go out from but that’s only the start of activities in the area.
You’ll feel yourself slip into holiday mode walking around the Bavarian style Platzl with it’s quaint boutiques, coffee and bike shops and restaurants where it’s not uncommon to take in live music or a game of open-air Ping-Pong.
Must-see activities include the short, easy walk along the meandering river in Marysville (just south of Kimberley) to take in the views of a 30-meter waterfall. Enjoying an ice cream across the street at Lickity Split before heading to the skate and bike-park for the kids to play is a sure favourite. The area is surrounded with bike trails, from easy 2 km loops like Happy Hans that’s great for even the smallest of pedalers accessed easily from the Nordic Centre parking lot to the Bootleg Bike Trails for the downhill enthusiasts.
Thankfully the Spirit Rock Climbing Centre is open most nights until 10 pm allowing you to sneak a climb into an already activity-filled day. There are routes for everyone from seasoned climbers to beginners, and with the auto-belay system the whole family can have fun together.
Lastly, make time to unwind with the scenic 83 km drive north of the city to take a short hike at White Swan Provincial Park to soak in the natural, rocky pools along the river that make up the Lussier Hot Springs. It’s the perfect way to end a perfect trip.
Kimberley, B.C. is sometimes referred to as ‘off the beaten path’, but the truth is it’s actually super easy and extremely convenient to get to, given its close proximity to YXC – the Canadian Rockies International Airport. Yes, you read that right, it’s that close to an international airport. You don’t need to fly into Calgary and rent a car to get there, just fly right into YXC and grab a cab or shuttle to Kimberley (Trickle Creek Lodge has a free one if you’re a guest there). Being less than 30 minutes away, you’ll be in Kimberley before you know it (most people who live right in Calgary aren’t even that close to YYC, Calgary’s International Airport)!
Making things even easier is the addition of more flights to YXC through Pacific Coastal Airlines as part of their spring/summer schedule. Increase in flights and scheduling includes 7-day a week service, same day business travel options, flights twice daily between YXC & YVR and enhanced connections between regularly scheduled destinations within Pacific Coastal.
Don’t know much about Kimberley? Looking for a good reason to visit the area? Here are 5(ish) of the best reasons.
So much Golf!
‘A Golfer’s Dream’ is Trickle Creek Golf Resort’s slogan, but really it can apply to the whole region of Kimberley and its nearby towns, since there are so many golf courses to choose from! Try to fit them all in on one trip – you won’t be able to! But that’s okay, just another great reason to make the easy trip back.
Food & Craft Beer
If you’re one of those hipsters who travels around trying all the craft beer, fancy coffee and delicious food you can (and even if you aren’t), Kimberley is a stop you will want to make. There no shortage of unique and delicious options. Start the day off at the Kimberley City Bakery, all you have to do is read some of the rave reviews on their Facebook page and you’ll be convinced to stop in. You can easily spend the rest of the day bouncing around the restaurants in and around the downtown Platzl, try The Shed for a delicious lunch and craft beer, pop into Overtime Beer Works for a local brewery experience, try Pedal and Tap (so good it’s only open for dinner) and if you’re still thirsty after that, head to Buckhorn & Main that has great daily features (located right in your hotel, Trickle Creek Lodge).
The town of Festivals
The festivals in Kimberley just don’t stop! With something fun going on just about every weekend, in summer it starts with Marysville Daze at the beginning on June and continues with First Saturdays, Julyfest (the best of the fests), Round the Mountain, Kimberley Kaleidoscope (and a lot more)!
Outdoorsy Things – Hiking, Biking, Fishing, Kayaking
Kimberley truly is an outdoorsy town with a huge variety of outdoor fun, from strenuous to recreational. Is hiking and/or biking your thing? We’ve got trails from easy to hard, from forests to waterfalls and even an old train route turned bike/pedestrian path from Kimberley to Cranbrook called Rails to Trails. Prefer fishing? Kimberley is surrounded by mountain lakes and rivers and is known for it’s ‘feisty fish’. Looking for something a little gentler and to leisurely take in the surrounding scenery? Try kayaking down a quiet stream.
Quaint town to explore
For a ‘small ski town’ there is actually a ton to do in Kimberley, especially for families. Kids and adults will enjoy the aquatic centre, skate park, climbing centre and exploring the nature park (to name a few).
More about the new Pacific Coastal service see the Press Release on their website.
More information about activities, festivals and dining in town on the Tourism Kimberley website
More information about resort activities throughout our website
Main photo: Pacific Coastal Facebook
Other photos courtesy of Trickle Creek Golf Resort, The Shed and Tourism Kimberley
September 30, 2018
Group text – 11 members
Chelsea: Hey guys, just to circle back to the conversation we had around the campfire this summer at Grandma’s – are we all in for a family ski trip this winter?
October 9, 2018
Chelsea: Hi cousins and siblings! What are we all thinking in terms of booking a ski trip this winter? It was great seeing you all for Thanksgiving – would be great to think about planning this trip… what does everyone think?
I’m not going to say outright my family is dysfunctional. However when it comes to planning a big ski trip with cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, we are anything but functional. It’s a friendly, happy group but trying to coax it in a specific direction is like herding kittens. Feral kittens.
After chatting excitedly about how fun it would be to all stay close together on a mountain where those skiing could catch great laps, new skiers could snag a lesson, and those watching the littlest ones could hangout together and feel apart of things we hit a lull. It seemed too good to be true. Juggling schedules of ten adults and another ten children is daunting at best, and finding one place that would meet so many unique needs was a tall order indeed. Upon a little research though, we quickly learned Kimberley Alpine Resort makes planning a trip like this, dare I say, easy. With it’s beautiful, reasonably priced ski-in – ski out lodging including fully equipped kitchens, heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, on-mountain restaurants, and North America’s longest night skiing run Kimberley Alpine Resort was the perfect destination, and heck of a good time.
Nestled in the Purcell mountain range in the East Kooteneys, the city of Kimberley is equal parts charming and laid-back. With just over 7000 residents the city has a small-town feel, yet with it’s dedicated Bavarian style Platzl, it also has entertainment that rivals a much bigger centre. It’s a place where festivals, live-music, street dancing, and parades all meet, where one can walk from shop to shop, and hop from one restaurant to the next each specializing in some wonderful delicacy. We definitely ate our weight at both the Stonefire pizzeria where the kids sat entranced in their, “front row seats,” watching pizza dough skillfully tossed in the air, and also at the Kimberley City Bakery. If you are wondering if it is worth the trip just for the baked goods – yes, yes it is.
The ski hill reflects a natural extension of the city – amazing snow, laid-back feel, and an odd sensation that you’ve been there before with its homey and inviting vibe.
Our group of twenty got to know the friendly staff that truly made the experience. No one was ever in too much of a hurry to lend a hand, and staff were always looking for ways to help out. The kids each received little tutorials on how to ride the T-bar more effectively by the lift operators, (unfortunately eradicating some hilarious crashes), and the experts in the rental shop willingly shared their expansive knowledge on ski-set-up. They ensured our children’s skis would indeed pop off upon wipeout instead of breaking their legs – which may have been the way we had been setting them for the last five years. MAY is the operative word in this sentence.
After taking an easy driving day out on Saturday, it was really fun to be able to get some skiing in that evening. The lights of the city below were breathtaking, and it was a perfect end to the day and start of the trip.
After excitedly jumping on the lift for night skiing Saturday evening, a few in our group decided lessons for the kids would be a great idea, which proved their weight in gold. The instructors embodied all the excellent attributes we found to be standard at the resort thus far – kind, knowledgeable, patient and confidence-inspiring. The proof was really in the pudding as we watched the kids rip down the very run that had given them trouble the night before laughing and whooping the whole way.
Beyond the resort providing a great destination for a big group to enjoy each other and the beautiful British Columbian Mountains the skiing was nothing short of epic. We found fresh turns, some beautiful glades, and lovely rolling runs that the kids (or the inner-kid within the adults) found little jumps to pop off along the way. With an average snowfall of 13 feet and the resort sprawling over 1800+ acres, it wasn’t surprising that there was great skiing for everyone.
Those taking turns with the smallest kids spent time splashing and playing in the pool, and soaking in the hot tub watching and cheering on those getting their ski legs under them on the green chair while they waited to get tagged out and take a turn on the mountain.
If that weren’t enough already, opposite the ski mountain sat a beautiful skating pond surrounded by the breathtaking mountains, and warmly lit by lampposts to provide skating time well after dark. It was a very iconic Canadian scene.
There was one problem with our get-away to Kimberley. We had too much fun on the hill, we didn’t check out the cool little climbing gym in town, or the Lussier Hot Springs out of town. I guess I better start texting now, so our clan can get a jump on planning for next year.
Photos & Words by Chelsea Mackenzie Photography
Now that we have your attention, it’s time to give you the downlow about Kimberley. Don’t worry if you don’t understand our millennial slang, we’ll explain it all in due time.
No matter how much time you’ve spent in this unique place (there’s just something special about a town with only one set of street lights), we can almost guarantee you still don’t know all the Kimberley experiences there are to be had. We don’t blame you, TBH there’s so much going on in this awesome, but unassuming town it’s hard to keep up with it all.
All the feels – friendly, modest charm
What do people think of when they think of Canadians (besides hockey), they think of the word friendly. Canadians are known around the world for being a friendly bunch and Kimberley is one of the absolute best examples of this. At Kimberley, locals and repeat visitors are super passionate about what an amazing place this is, but they aren’t going to be extra about it. If you ask, we’re happy to let you in on our secrets, but if you don’t ask, we’re happy to let you figure it out on your own too.
Get your Canadian on – go to a Dynamiters Hockey game while in town, skate at the skating rink at Trickle Creek Lodge, Snowmobile – tours are run out of nearby Cranbrook.
Kimberley is not quite your average ski town – in some ways it is, however in many ways it’s one and only of its kind in Canada. With its distinct European vibe, you’ll feel like you’ve travelled further than you probably have.
Do something different, Kimberley styles – Check out the Ullr Dag fest, an annual ski burning ceremony as an offering to the norse god of snow. Visit the Cuckoo Clock in the Platzl (give it some coin and it will even yodel for you) or attend one of their newer festivals – the Medieval Festival (annually in July).
Food & craft beer scene is on point
For a smaller town, there is a ton of lit AF places to eat and drink. First of all, Kimberley has its very own brewery – Overtime Beer works, a craft beer lovers dream! Other Kimberley dining gems include The Shed, Pedal and Tap, Sullivan Pub and Buckhorn & Main Mountain Eatery. Of course, there are all the usual comforts as well like – Stonefire Pizza, Kimberly City Bakery, Britner’s Fish & Chips, Burrito Grill (and more).
Get turnt – at free après live music at Stemwinder – weekly, The Shed in the Platzl, Overtime Beerworks (just beside the Platzl) and Friday night College nights at the ski resort.
A lesser known fact about Kimberley is that it’s actually super convenient to get to. The Canadian Rockies International Airport (YXC) is located under a half hour away from the resort and has major carriers flying in, like WestJet. Many hotels also offer shuttles to pick you up, like Trickle Creek Lodge, Kimberley Alpine Resort’s top Ski in/Ski Out property.
Vacation Goals – Fly & ski all in one day. This can be done at Kimberley since the airport is so close or if you miss day skiing, we have night skiing as well!
Low key popular destination
In the ski resort world, there seems to only two extreme sides to the spectrum – super crowded, or deserted. Well Kimberley has somehow mastered being blissfully in between. While there are a healthy number of visitors to the town at any given time, if you’re skiing there’s a good possibility, you’ll hit a run or two and not see another soul and there’s a great possibility you won’t stand in a single lift line up.
Pro tip – Check out Dorval. Dorval is a forever favourite run of our staff as most people ride right on by it! Our theory is everyone is too busy making their way to the Easter chair to notice this spot and pass it by, but next time we suggest you try it out! To get to Dorval, ski right of the intersection to Dean’s Right and Ridgeway, some of the best attributes of Dorval are – it’s one of the steepest runs on the hill and is only groomed once a week. One of the rarest experiences you’ll have on this run is actually seeing another soul riding near you and if you do, there’s a safe bet they work at the resort or grew up skiing there.
A better Romantic getaway
Even better than Netflix and Chill? Romantic getaway seems to imply hanging out in your hotel room, going out for nice meals, spending quality time with your SO – and all of these are things you can do in Kimberley. But we’re upping the romance game by offering you fun experiences with your bae too.
Couple Goals – try out twilight snowshoe tour at the top of the mountain, topped off by chocolate fondue in the Kootenay Haus. Or go on a Snowshoe S’mores excursion, taking you around Trickle Creek Golf Course with a stop for a fire and smore’s before finishing up.
All Seasons Adventure on fleek
There’s so much to do here, you won’t have time in one trip (bruh….).
Pics or it didn’t happen. Try these Kimberley adventures on for size – Heli skiing, Night skiing, Snowmobiling, Cross Country Skiing, Skating, Hockey, Black Spur Ultra (fall), Round the Mountain (summer), Horseback Riding (summer), Hiking, Biking and don’t forget golf…so much golf!
The downlow on snowfall
If after reading this whole list, snowfall is what it really comes down to when you you’re your vacation choice – the best is still yet to come for Kimberley! Historically, we get most snow during our winter seasons between February and April.
Yaas. That is all.
Millennial Slang Help:
PSA – Public Service Announcement
Slaying – Looking fresh or on point
RN – Right Now
all the feels – A phrase used to describe something that makes you feel good; or having good vibes
Extra – Over the top, dramatic behavior
On Point – fleek (see below)
Lit – When something is turned up or popping
Turnt – Hype for a party
S.O – Significant Other
Bae – A pet name that stands for Before Anyone Else
On fleek – refers to something that’s perfect or on point.
Bruh – Another way of saying “seriously?”
Yaas – An enthusiastic way of saying yes
Photos; Mountain Man Cole, The Shed, Tourism Kimberley
Sure, the Canadian Rockies are known for clean lines, epic powder days, and bluebird skies, but skiing and snowboarding are far from all they have to offer. A winter wonderland and snow globe brought to life; if you need a break from the slopes or just want to vary your vacation activities, try these unique winter adventures on for size. You don’t have to venture far from the resorts, either (if at all).
- S’mores Fat Bike Adventure – Kimberley Alpine Resort
This adventure on the Trickle Creek Golf Course includes a two-hour guided fat bike tour (also available as a snowshoe tour) through the winding trails of the golf resort. After you’ve broken a sweat, a firepit, hot beverages, and toasty s’mores will be waiting to power your ride back down. If you’re looking for an even bigger adrenaline rush, they also run night tours via headlamp.
- Snowshoe and Fondue Tours – Kimberley Alpine Resort
Held at the top of North Star Mountain, you’ll ride the chairlift up for snowshoe trek through the deep pow. When you’re ready to warm-up, the Kootenay House Log Cabin will have chocolate fondue waiting as a tasty reward. They also run a special Valentine’s Day tour if you’re looking for a unique outing with your loved one.
- Cat Skiing – Fernie Wilderness
For dedicated backcountry enthusiasts, snowcats can plow through almost any type of weather so whiteout conditions won’t impede your vacation plans. The Fernie Wilderness has some of the most legendary and challenging runs on the planet but is still accessible enough that beginning skiers and boarders can practice their turns. An added bonus? The trips are BYO.
- Purcell Heli-Skiing – Kicking Horse Resort
Heli-skiing is one of the most coveted winter experiences for true powder hounds. Grouped by skill level, a helicopter will take you to up the pristine mountaintop in search of untouched lines and fresh powder in the Canadian Rockies’ vast wilderness. You are guaranteed at least five runs with an average of 700 vertical feet, so get ready to feel the burn.
Let’s get straight to the point; winter tends to overstay its welcome. With major snowstorms lasting into April earlier this year, Mother Nature definitely took longer than expected to bestow warmer temperatures upon us Canadians.
Living in this wonderful, snowy nation, there are some crucial lessons to learn in order to thrive in the ‘Great White North’. Most importantly, is realizing the importance of making the best of your environment and conditions (especially the long winter months we so often endure).
Our initial instincts are to stay warm and cozy during blizzard-stricken months, huddled indoors with blankets, warm drinks, a crackling fire and taking in an unhealthy amount of Netflix, while silently praying that our neighbour or significant other will shovel the walkway. Winters have such great potential though, why surrender such glorious opportunities to see the remarkable beauty Canada boasts in its backyard?
Exploring the outdoors throughout all four of our Canadian seasons is a revitalizing experience for us, which should be taken advantage of to refresh our frame of mind. It’s a chance to discover new adventures just a snowball’s throw away. We’re all familiar with making the most of warm temperatures during the summer months with patio season and backyard lounging in full swing. The winter landscape can be just as inspiring too, when given the chance.
If you need more convincing, here are a few of Canada’s premiere winter activity destinations:
Fernie, British Columbia
The shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs along 2nd Avenue in Fernie are some of the Canadian Rockies’ hidden gems, with surrounding mountain peaks looming over the glow of its downtown streets.
Located just down the road, Fernie Alpine Resort is home to some of Canada’s most legendary powder, with an average snowfall of 30ft. From epic downhill skiing to leisurely snowshoe and groomed cross-country skiing trails, the resort has activities for the whole family. It also offers plenty of weekly programs to get you outside and even yoga classes to help you find your winter Zen. Their on-mountain accommodations along with a local shuttle to town make for a perfect introduction to Canada’s winter activities.
Kimberley, British Columbia
If you’re looking for a classic mountain town, you’ve found it. The town of Kimberley embodies the Canadian spirit with humble, welcoming locals and a relentless passion for nature. Kimberley is home to craft beers, great local dining, the oldest building in Canada and a variety of activities to enjoy outside.
With stunning scenery of the Kootenay mountains, Kimberley Alpine Resort is just minutes from town and offers great facilities and terrain for people of all skiing and snowboarding ability levels – from first-timers to seasoned slope shredders. Looking to stay on level ground? Try the area’s expansive snowshoe trails, cross-country skiing network or check out fat biking, one of North America’s favourite new activities (mountain bikes with wider tires for better grip in snow conditions).
Golden, British Columbia
One of the most famed locations along the Powder Highway, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and the town of Golden are conveniently located along the TransCanada Highway and ready to provide you a mountain experience like no other. Drop into Whitetooth Brewing Co. for locally crafted beers, or the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre for an up-close learning session with these amazing animals.
Delving deeper into nature, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers Canada’s highest dining experience, the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at 7,700ft. Once you’re fueled up, hit the slopes of the Catamount Chair to learn the basics on your skis or snowboard, or bring your little ones to the tube park and natural ice rink at the base of the resort. Advanced skiers head to the top via the gondola for wide ranging bowls, ridges and chutes. If staying grounded is your preference, Golden is primed with world-class snowmobiling, along with plenty of rentals and tours available.
Life’s too short – and winters are too long – to miss out on a lifetime of adventure. Let winter activities revitalize your soul and help you look forward to the inevitable snowfalls each year. Meet Mother Nature halfway on this one and discover how rewarding Canada’s winter climates can truly be.
There are many reasons why one golf in Kimberley, B.C, whether it’s about the course, the town or the people – whatever your reason is, these might be a few more to consider;
Top courses to play
Trickle Creek Golf Resort – voted #1 course in the Kimberley & Cranbrook region by the B.C. Golfer’s Dream survey in 2016 and again this season! If golfing the #1 course in the region doesn’t tickle your fancy then we don’t know what will.
Escape the heat
Kimberley is cooler (in temperature that is). As well as being the highest city in Canada, Kimberley is located in the mountains, providing some nice cool mountain breezes on those hotter days. Don’t get us wrong, there are hot days, but compared to other nearby places (i.e – Okanagan area) Kimberley is definitely cooler!
Balls travel further
Kimberley, B.C is the highest city in Canada and no we don’t mean THAT kind of high. We mean altitude high and it’s a fact that golf balls do in fact travel further in higher altitudes. The science behind it is all about air density – air density decreases and elevation increases which means the ball can fly more easily through the air. So, if you’re looking to get more out of your swing – it’s time to try golfing in Kimberley! Don’t buy it? Well listen to a real scientist discuss higher altitudes and how it effects your game here on the Titleist website.
Take in the mountain views
Trickle Creek Golf Resort is frequently referred to as ‘a golfers dream’ with ‘dramatic elevation changes, peak-filled horizons, gorgeous white-silica bunkers, undulating greens and a solid Les Furber design add up to an unforgettable day of golf’. And it really is all that and more, just look at this photo and try to argue this point;
Animals and more
Don’t come just for the golf or the amazing landscape, come for the wildlife experience as well. Trickle Creek Golf Resort and Kimberley, B.C are home to friendly deer, birds, cute ground gophers and chipmunks as well as (not so friendly) bears, who all stop by once and a while to check out your score. While you always need to practice safety around wildlife and be bear aware, there is something amazing about seeing a mama bear and her cubs take a stroll across the green you’re aiming at, just sit back and take it all in (from a safe distance). Get a sampling of the wildlife you might see on our previous blog – ‘The keenest spectators, the wildlife of Trickle Creek‘.
A round (or two) after your round
Kimberley has a great ‘apres’ scene – whether it’s golf or ski season! At Trickle Creek Golf Resort, The Clubhouse offers a large patio facing the 18th green with amazing food and great drink options, or try out Buckhorn & Main Mountain Eatery for a view of the ski resort during the summer – it’s located just down the road at Trickle Creek Lodge. Plus Buckhorn & Main have just release their new summer flavours menu which features the incredible Smokey Bacon Burger! Venturing into town gives you even more options include Overtime Beerworks for some craft beer action, Pedal & Tap for a place the locals love as well as Stonefire Pizza for a family meal or Sullivan’s Pub for some keno fun and pub style fare.
On Wednesday, June 20th the very first WestJet flight landed at YXC, the Canadian Rockies International Airport, marking the beginning of their new Calgary, YYC to YXC direct flight service. This exciting new service brings Cranbrook and the surrounding areas including Kimberley, B.C even more accessible for travelers. Unless you live in a mountain town, you’ve likely never contemplated leaving your house and skiing or golfing that same day, but now you can! With Kimberley Alpine Resort & Trickle Creek Golf Resort just a short drive from the airport you can fly in the morning and ski or golf in the afternoon! Stay at Trickle Creek Lodge, ski in/ski out accommodations at Kimberley Alpine Resort and just down the street from Trickle Creek Golf Resort and enjoy shuttle service from the airport.
No we don’t mean beer…..we mean ski days!
Here’s a list of the most hardcore of hardcore skiers who made it out for 100+ days this past ski season!
A special congratulations to Ivan Mather who skied every single day this past season (121 days) and congratulations to all who skied 100 + days.
What a feat! How many days did you get in this year?
There are no baths or showers at Boulder Hut. Clean-up after a day of strenuous backcountry skiing involves soaping up in a wood-fired sauna, then dumping a bucket of water over one’s head. To my surprise a fellow guest, fit naked and female, offered to do the pouring. I reluctantly acquiesced. Thereafter, the absence of a proper shower seemed trivial and I decided to forego my complaint to management.
Management at this remote backcountry lodge consists of owners Mark and Sarah Yancey, whose infectious love of Boulder Hut – and the remote lifestyle it entails – is evident from the moment they greet you on the snow-packed heli-pad.
Over the years I’ve acquired all the accoutrements for ski-touring – and on occasion I’ve skinned up the Kimberley ski hill – but I had never before toured in the backcountry.
So I was curious when a helicopter touched down at the base of the ski hill on a sunny morning in January. A group of people, ski paraphernalia in tow, was preparing to board. I put down my coffee, stepped off the deck and wandered over. I asked the pilot where they were bound.
“Boulder Hut” he said.
“Where’s that?” I queried.
“Twelve minutes that way,” he said pointing west over Northstar Mountain.
As I ain’t gettin’ no younger, I determined to be on that chopper before the season ended. And so in mid-March I was soaring over our condo, watching my wife Florence waving goodbye from our deck. I hoped it was not a permanent farewell.
Moments later we were up and over the Black Forest on the ski hill’s back side.
Then we were into the rugged roadless world of the Purcell Range. We steered along a ridge of wintry peaks, summited Boulder Pass and descended into a broad forested valley. A tiny dot far below soon resolved into the Boulder Hut.
After a welcoming lunch and safety briefing we strapped on skins and started our first ascent through the thick forest of old-growth spruce that provides Boulder’s gorgeous back-drop. The conditions were fabulous; a storm had just blown through. Fresh powder and sunny, bluebird conditions greeted us.
Every winter the media warns of avalanche danger in the backcountry. At Boulder Hut safety is paramount. With Mark and alpine guide Brent Peters constantly checking conditions – and leading the way through dicey areas – we felt safe and comfortable.
When there was any hint of risk they dug a snow profile to check for stability and to ensure some rogue slab wouldn’t ruin our day.
Boulder Hut is remote, quaint and rustic – guests share an open sleeping cabin. If you forget earplugs (and sleeping pills), your repose may be ruined; exhausted snoring skiers make a hell of a racket. In the evening guests are responsible for stoking the wood-burning stove. Failure to maintain the fire means for a long cold shivering night. As the only rookie, I was utterly exhausted at the end of each day and slept like a baby – with an assist from earplugs (and a little blue friend).
Boulder has no laundry facilities. By the fourth night my ski socks, hanging over the bunk to dry, had taken on a crisp flavourful bouquet – or so my fellow guests observed (I was obliviously comatose).
Drinking water is drawn directly from a small creek that flows year-round. The same stream supplies power via a small hydroelectric plant.
Boulder’s bathrooms are located al fresco; open A-frame jobbies where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the Purcell Mountains whilst engaging in one’s morning constitutional. A sign planted in the snow announces whether the privy is occupied or available.
At Boulder Hut there is no cellphone coverage or internet. And guests are (gasp) expected to help with dishes after dinner.
I’ve been to five-star ski lodges where a cat whisks you to the top of the mountain for each run. At Boulder Hut every turn is earned. Mark calculated that we climbed 14,000 feet (4300 meters) during our stay.
Sound like a miserable experience?
I had the time of my life. Mark, Sarah, their kids Grace and Alden, mascot Rosie the Great Pyrenees and my seven fascinating fellow guests made for a fabulous, unique experience.
I’m going back to Boulder this winter – and taking along a few buddies – all rookies. Now if only I can arrange for a reprise of that fit lady with the water bucket.
Check out Gerry’s Blog to read about the rest of my adventures.