Thanks to Matt Timmins for the pro quality photos mixed in with my iPhone shots above.
After a week of hiking peaks at Icefall Lodge we had a couple of days booked at Chatter Creek for a bit of a luxury ski experience. Given it was the last trip they were running for the season in early April the snow was looking a bit touch and go. To their credit, Chatter Creek emailed us more than a week out warning that if there wasn’t any new snow they’d be cancelling the trip – a big call when there’s 40+ paying guests raring to go!
Luckily, the dump we’d had the previous week at Icefall had hit Chatter Creek as well, given both tenures are within sight of each other just north of Golden BC. The trip started with another heli flight into the lodge seeing us arrive late on a Monday afternoon.
The first thing that struck me as we landed was how massive the operation was compared to what I was expecting. Chatter Creek has two huge adjacent buildings that combine a bar, dining room and kit room with suite style accommodation, all with individual ensuite bathrooms. Everything is run off a massive diesel generator, purpose built wood fired hot water and heating system and huge propane tanks that must get trucked or flown in during summer. Outside was abuzz with helicopters landing, snowmobiles zipping around and the snowcats parked ready to go.
Once we’d checked into our room we settled in for a three course meal in the restaurant style dining room and received a briefing from the lead guide about the plan for the next couple of days.
Day one started with forming up into our snowcat groups of 10 guests with Yuji Akiyama as our lead guide with Kat from NZ tail guiding. One of my hesitations about big group cat skiing has been the potential for a big mix of abilities, but our group of Canadians and Americans were all young, strong skiers and snowboarders which meant maximising how many runs we could fit into each day.
Our first destination was to get up high and out onto the glacier, a good hour’s snowcat drive from the lodge itself. This got us up nice and high and into boot deep, dry powder on the North facing aspects. Given there’d been a couple of groups up there in the preceding week since it had last snowed it was a pleasant surprise to still be getting fresh tracks through the rolling terrain each run. Some runs were close to 1000m of vertical and Yuji made sure we squeezed every last drop out of the day before the long drive back down to the lodge.
After a hot sauna and freezing cold dunk in the ice-covered pond, it was back for another restaurant-quality meal before an early night to rest up for the next day. Most trips to Chatter Creek are four days, so word is aprés in the bar can get pretty rowdy once the groups all get to know each other a bit better.
Day two saw us head to some trickier terrain a bit closer to the lodge, with some fun pillow lines and small cliffs to navigate before heading back up to the glacier to track it out for the afternoon. The snow quality had held out and we picked the gaps in the weather to get into the best terrain. Matt, one of the in-house photographers joined us for the second day which led to a good dose of Kodak Courage from a few of the crew.
It was then back to the lodge, a quick sauna and then back on the helicopter to civilisation in a flash.
If we do get the chance to go back to Chatter Creek again, we’d definitely go for fours days so that you get into more of a groove and opportunity to ski a wider variety of their incredible terrain. We’d also go a bit earlier in the season in the hopes of scoring some deeper snow and being able to ski the myriad tree lines we drove past each day. Having said all that, a two day spring ski blast was a perfect addition to this trip.
Overall, Chatter Creek is a superbly run outfit – great staff, excellent amenities, terrain that can push your skiing and just enough luxury to make it feel special without being over the top!