I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s one of the many reasons I like to travel. The unknown: Not having the well-developed website with bright, bold photos and information of every option under the sun or a long blog review (that’s my job).
I learned about Ymir Backcountry Lodge at an avalanche fundraiser. The guy, Trevor, was passionate about the lodge, which was the main selling point for me. I added my name to the email distribution list and took his card.
When should we go? Do I have enough vacation time? Was the price right? What’s included in the catered meal option? Should we pack our own food in?
As you can see, I had a lot of questions that needed answered for my first backcountry skiing trip. I was negotiating over email with Trevor trying to get more information (the website has been updated since). Eventually, Andy and I decided not to book based on lingering unanswered questions and the inability to commit time to get answers.
The stars aligned when friends asked if we wanted to join for a long weekend at a British Columbia backcountry lodge with helicopter only access. Huh? Sounds familiar.
With a group and excellent exchange rate, we couldn’t say no and signed up for a long weekend knowing three out of the other eleven guests that were in our “group.” Andy and I packed our freeze-dried meals and snacks each day and loaded up the Jeep to Ymir, B.C. Thursday after work.
There isn’t cell service except on top of the peaks. But who has international data? No internet access. Limited electricity, where we could still charge phones from solar energy and a back-up generator. Just the place to go when you want to disconnect with technology and connect with the outdoors.
Getting to Ymir Lodge
The first views of the lodge were by air from the helicopter taking us from Hall, B.C. up into the Kootenay mountains. Snow dusted the trees surrounding the lodge as the prior guests waited to unload our gear and load theirs. The 10-minute ride went too fast.
The helicopter transportation was organized with directions being shouted over the loud spinning helicopter blades. Both groups worked hard to keep the helicopter off the ground and transporting skiers (ok some snowboarders too). The helicopter rate is by the hour, and Ymir Lodge saves money by being fast. Stumbling over my feet between the helicopter pad to the lodge, I ran my group’s gear via a sled as the rest of the group took turns lugging heavy equipment and supplies needed for the weekend.
We wanted to ski and were wasting precious daylight.
Inside Ymir Lodge
Daylight or headlamps lit up the bedrooms we’d call home for the next fews nights. Ymir lodge is a glorified hut. No electric and no running water. Only the common space with kitchen was lit by kerosene lamps.
In a blink of an eye, the commotion was over, and we were getting the lay-of-the-lodge walk through. We were briefed by everything from water to cooking to dishes to bathing.
The second floor was lined with bedrooms and the toilets–one pee toilet and two solid toilets, which were all composting. The bathroom sink consisted of a water cooler and metal bowls, where guests can wash hands and faces. A container under the “sink” was used to dispose of the used water from the metal bowls. A basic lodge that still felt luxurious in a way.
A standard bedroom.
A friendly reminder.
After a long day of touring, the warm wood stove welcomed us back as wet gear hung in the common area on the main floor.
The kitchen has pots and pans. The rest of the group did a better job at planning meals together. Andy and I didn’t spend much time in the kitchen but occasionally acted as garbage disposals for the leftover food.
Water was made by melting snow in pots over the wood fire. Bathing meant dragging a small tub into your bedroom and sponging off with warm water. I didn’t feel the need to bathe.
A sauna in the bottom part of the yurt a few hundred feet away from the lodge was frequented in the evenings but took some time to heat. The cold air stung the bare skin on what felt like a long walk. The sauna steam was made by guests pouring ladles of water over the iron wood stove. Taking breaks from the hot sauna, I’d do a few snow dives to cool down, which also was how I bathed throughout the weekend. The brisk air was perfect on the return walk back to the lodge.
We didn’t see anyone on the peaks aside from our group. The timing of the trip was perfect with snow refreshing throughout the days and nights. Ymir Lodge is a magical place, and if timed right can leave you wanting to return.
Until next time, Ymir!
Travel Dates: January 15-18, 2016