For a backcountry skier, it’s hard to imagine a better place than this, or a better moment than now. Myself and a group of old and newly met friends are standing atop the Wildcat Glacier at around 9000 feet having climbed here completely under our own power. Surrounding us in the crisp mountain air are literally dozens of stunningly beautiful snow-capped peaks stretching out in all directions. After a snack and a sip of hot tea, Dave Birnie, our guide and co-owner of Mistaya Lodge, gives us a quick reminder of avalanche safety’s golden rule, “ski one at a time, folks!” and begins cutting perfect telemark turns down an unbroken blanket of white. Soon, another of our group follows suit and the stillness is suddenly broken by an outburst of laughter and a chorus of “WOOHOOs!” as each successive skier carves their own particular style of turns.
This will be our last and longest run of the day dropping almost 3000 feet down to the valley bottom. Waiting for us inside of the beautiful Mistaya Lodge are fresh gourmet appetizers prepared by local chef, Kim Purdy. Kim’s tasty snacks are quickly demolished along with a few cold beers by a cozy fire over stories and a few good laughs about the day’s incredible skiing. As good as the skiing, food and accommodations are, it’s the tremendous warmth and hospitality of co-owners Dave Birnie and Cindy Galligan that keeps us coming back at the same time year-after-year. They make you feel like you’re staying at a close friend’s house up in the mountains, rather than at a commercial lodge.
Later, we’ll enjoy a relaxing sauna and a delicious three-course meal before collapsing on some of the best beds in the backcountry. We’ll need to get a good rest because tomorrow, we’ll happily do it all again!
Editor’s note: This kind of adventure is only 60 km from Golden BC.