Backcountry skiing from the Campbell Icefield Chalet – Trip Report
We visited the Campbell Icefield chalet this past January. The hut is in a remote location near the Campbell Icefield, close to many glaciers and great skiing and accessed by helicopter. This is one of my favourite cabins due to it’s beautiful location and amenities. The hut contains running cold water that is routed from a stream, and includes a flush toilet – how wonderful not to have to have to go outside on those cold winter nights!
There is plenty of great glacier skiing and powder skiing close to the hut.
We were in the cabin early January with seven other friends, giving a total of 9 people in the hut. The hut sleeps 22 guests in a total of 10 bright bedrooms. The bedrooms on the first floor have bunk beds while the top floor bedrooms have two single beds, and are perfect for couples.
The cabin is one of the nicest ones out there. It features sunny bedrooms, a great drying room with boot dryers, and even an indoor bathroom. The sauna room is also very nice, it features two shower stalls, so you can have a proper shower every night after skiing.
In the sauna, there is a fixed metal basin for warming up water right on top of the fireplace. There is a faucet on the other side of the wall, in the changeroom, where you fill a watering can with this hot water, and can add some cold water from the cold water faucet as well. Mix the hot and cold water to get the perfect temperature water, and wash away.
Some of the most easily accessible powder skiing is in the big alpine bowl just above the cabin. Paradise bowl offers a good, consistent 300 meter run down, and is really enjoyable to lap on those really good snow days. There are plenty of these areas very close to the hut.
Other great places, close to the hut are the Lightbulb, which is accessed from Paradise bowl, the Low Col, and The Dome. These areas are a close tour from the cabin and can be made into a shorter day, but obviously, you can lap these areas and have a full day with plenty of vertical.
We were lucky, as the week before only two people were staying at the cabin, which saved lots of fresh snow for us. The 2014-15 ski season is a low snow year, so it’s good to get up high in the alpine in remote areas to get some good skiing in.
On the first day, we flew in nice and early in a Bell 212 helicopter. Nine of us, plus all of our ski gear and food for seven days fit into this huge dual engine helicopter. It was amazing, we all fit in on one flight, putting us at the cabin just after noon on Saturday! So, we went out for a little afternoon ski down the powerline. It’s a nice run down through the trees then a big climb back out to the cabin.
On the second day we skied Paradise bowl in nice snow but flat light. We had good light for a few of the runs.
Beautiful clear weather. We headed out high in the alpine to take advantage of the bluebird skies and sunny, high pressure weather. Since the weather was forecast to turn on us in the next few days, we wanted to get as much out of the alpine as we could while the weather held.
So we headed up through the low col to the Campbell icefield. The icefield features a very popular and beautiful run called Diamond dust – it is approximately 350 meters on cold snow. We had about 15 centimeters on crust so ended up with pretty good skiing. After a couple of laps on Diamond dust we had a look over the high col, where you can ski right down to the cabin. We decided that the snow on the other side looked better, so we went back down and around low col to get back home.
Time to check out the Dome, a mountain ridge feature east of the cabin. It’s a great line and we lapped it a few times after skiing a line up and down the low col. At the end of the day, we ended up skiing Murphy’s Law and Murphy’s Trees which are at the bottom of the run on the Dome. Hidden powder stashes here! This was a big day with plenty of vertical, and lots of transitions!
From the high col we saw our other friends skiing a line off the shoulder of Mt. Alan Campbell from across the valley. They reported excellent conditions so we decided to have a look. The day was warm, and we had very flat light conditions, so the skiing was challenging. With the big descent in the morning to get down valley and up again, then a big climb back to the cabin made for a tiring day.
Expected bad weather but were surprised to wake up to clearing fog, revealing another great, clear day. We headed up Paradise Bowl to ski the Lightbulb. A great run down with soft snow. We end the day off with a few laps on Paradise bowl again.
Last day. Legs are definitely tired with no days off or even shorter days! It snowed the night before so we had some deep snow in the trees, with up to 20 cm’s in places. We skiied Murphy’s trees and morains, then headed down to ski a lap on the Fan. A big climb up, again, at the end of the day.
What a great week! We are ready to go home and have a rest day. We fly out again on Saturday and are back in Golden in the early afternoon.
The Campbell Icefield is a great place for a backcountry ski getaway. This was my second trip out there and we’ll definitely be back!
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