Sol Mountain Ski Touring — Monashees Powpalooza


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 24, 2017      
Deep Into Debt on our first day

Deep Into Debt on our first day.

Sol Mountain Lodge is situated at an elevation of 1925m just south of Monashee Provincial Park in Canada, British Columbia. It is coated in classic Monashee powder. Don’t know what that is? If you’ve ever dreamed about perfectly spaced old growth mature timbers, huge canopies of forest-covered slopes pitched at 35 – 45 degrees, blower choking pow wafting over your head in diamond dust contrails then you might have dreamed about the Monashees.

The Monashees climate is where storms go on a bender as the moisture laden air of coastal B.C. cools down as it transits from the Pacific, dips down to interior valleys, then picks up speed as it rockets into Interior mountain ranges then dumps its desiccated moisture laden powder bounty onto 2500m perfectly pitched peaks

Sol Mountain’s location allows for access to a variety of terrain in all directions and boasts 5 distinct ski zones. While there are no glaciers, there is plenty of alpine terrain when the visibility is good, and tree skiing when conditions warrant.

The lodge is about 10 years old and well designed for large groups. With three bathrooms upstairs, two showers, a bathroom in the main floor and two toilets and one shower downstairs there are few morning coffee emergencies. The lower floor is where you keep your boots and gear, with 3 bedrooms. The main floor is well designed for hanging out comfort, and the upper floor contains the majority of private bedrooms and a west facing yoga room in which to stretch as the sun sets in the distance.

A tour to explore the NW side of Sol's tenure

A tour to explore the NW side of Sol’s tenure.

The lodge drying room

The lodge drying room.

The helicopter leaves in the morning from Revelstoke, the remaining people stage in Cherryville near Vernon. This allows for a quicker turnaround and other access options on variable vis days. The valley location and calm conditions in the Cherryville valley means that the lodge does not often get whited out on exchange day; a convenient aspect of Sol’s setup.

On exchange day we were all in the lodge by 12noon. You get a chance to practice transceiver searches in their beacon basin and right away get a chance to ski a half day. On that day we skied trees with broken skies at -14 temps and then back to the lodge by headlamp. On our second day, we got to lap 600m powder laps in the eastern side of the Homer Glades. Skies were clear and temperatures still cold. Even without measurable new snow in a week and a half we had fast knee deep powder of high quality.

We were unguided but had brought in a cook. It’s quite a treat to come back to a comfortable lodge and four meals a day (breakfast, packed lunch, appies, dinner).

Snow Donkey and ski provisions!

Snow Donkey and ski provisions!

Skis are lined up ready to go

Skis are lined up ready to go.

Homer Trees

Homer Trees.

Homer Trees

Homer Trees.

Excellent meals by Allison!

Excellent meals by Allison!

Reading in our room before bed.

Reading in our room before bed.

On our third day we toured out to to check out the north face of Mt Fosthall, the highest mountain in the Gold Range at 2686m elevation. Unfortunately the winds wreaked havoc on the Alpine making the best snow to be found in the trees. We did have a good run from Cirque Lake to Peters Lake and crossed a hiking trail that is in Monashee Provincial Park. We then had a long meadow tour, trekking 5km back towards Margie Lake then back to the notch overlooking the ridgeline immediately north of the lodge for an easy ski back.

It’s notable that we traversed a good chunk of the NW end of the Sol Mountain tenure skinning by umpteen runs including treed and alpine runs that afforded access to terrain of immense variety. The size of the tenure and the terrain gives one an insight into why Sol Mountains’ ski season extends deep into mid April.

Cold temps make for nice sunrises

Cold temps make for nice sunrises

Allison our awesome cook doing her thing!

Allison our awesome cook doing her thing!

Skinning along Mission Ridge towards Fosthall

Skinning along Mission Ridge towards Fosthall.

Skiing down from Malbec to Cariboo Pass

Skiing down from Malbec to Cariboo Pass.

View from Cariboo Pass to Peters Lake and Monashee Provincial Park

View from Cariboo Pass to Peters Lake and Monashee Provincial Park.

Fosthall North face

Fosthall North Face.

Sunset ski down Shiraz

Sunset ski down Shiraz.

Sharon's birthday Lindor in our comfortable room!

Sharon’s birthday Lindor in our comfortable room!

A storm was predicted to blow in toward the end of the week. Thus ensued a couple more days where we marvelled at how two week old powder snow could be so perfectly preserved and ski so well. It had been cold and stayed cold so it was the rare time when solar aspects skied well from treeline to valley bottom giving us the first world problem of having massive terrain at our disposal with all aspects in play. We took advantage accordingly.

Temps in the next few days held in the -18 range. Blue skies dominated but with winds having negatively affecting snow quality in alpine we first skied trees in the Chicken Notch and Baldur zone to the SE part of the Sol tenure. This is an area with 300 – 500m shots of pow, hucks and fun terrain. If conditions allow you could even get into this area from higher up for even longer runs. The next day was the coldest day of the week. We stuck to the low hanging fruit of Baldur Trees closest to the lodge. These were yet more perfectly spaced trees affording multiple 300m laps in fast sendy pow.

Chillin at breakfast

Chillin at breakfast.

Packing lunch

Packing lunch.

Looking towards Baldur zone. One could easily start a long run from the alpine in the right conditions.

Looking towards Baldur zone. One could easily start a long run from the alpine in the right conditions.

Chicken Knob Pow!

Chicken Knob Pow!

Views abound!

Views abound!

Lee and Jessie on a sunset ski down Shiraz

Lee and Jessie on a sunset ski down Shiraz.

Appies!

Appies!

Dinner

Dinner.

If 2 week old Monashee pow is of satisfactory quality then new snow makes Monashee powder skiing of a powgasmic state. The clouds started coming in shutting out the alpine, but this didn’t limit options if you were into practicing white out navigation. We opted to trek out to Solace, a rarely visited part of the tenure towards the east. The run started out with 850m of choking blower fall line and just got better as we did laps in a full on Monashee storm coming in at rates of 3 – 4 cms/hour.

The downside of heading out so far is that you have to tour back. Fortunately the lodge provides an excellent geo-tagged map. A network of logging roads gives one quick easy return to the Lodge. Getting back by headlamps to appies and dinner isn’t a chore after a day of pow.

Entrance to French Connection

Entrance to French Connection.

Pow reward!

Pow reward!

Jacqui in the pow

Jacqui in the pow.

More pow reward!

More pow reward!

Lower pow

Lower pow.

Sol Mountain Lodge Road slog back.

Sol Mountain Lodge Road slog back.

Snow kept up overnight and another 10-15cms fell overnight bringing the 2 day total to 25-35cms with quite a bit more in the alpine. We headed back to the South Fosthall Creek area banging out a 1800m day to come back to the lodge with flayed faces from pow, blown legs from trailbreaking and massive grins. Of course double helpings of dinner and dessert didn’t hurt.

More snow in the morning

More snow in the morning.

Went back to Zone 1, this time we skied down Hindsight.

Went back to Zone 1, this time we skied down Hindsight.

Then a short skin up to ski Pay Back. Good snow from 1950m to 1400m!

Then a short skin up to ski Pay Back. Good snow from 1950m to 1400m!

Then the skin back up Wall Street. Be warned that it's a long way back breaking 40cms of trail the whole way

Then the skin back up Wall Street. Be warned that it’s a long way back breaking 40cms of trail the whole way.

Jesse eyeing his cake!

Jesse eyeing his cake!

Thanks to Allison our cook, Dave the Custodian and Adam who helped out! Thanks guys!

Thanks to Allison our cook, Dave the Custodian and Adam who helped out! Thanks guys!

If you're the last group out there's the opportunity to do last minute lodge laps before embarking on the heli back to the valley. Got in 4 laps from Lodge Notch in plenty of time

If you’re the last group out there’s the opportunity to do last minute lodge laps before embarking on the heli back to the valley. Got in 4 laps from Lodge Notch in plenty of time.

Parting group shot before the 3rd flight took off.

Parting group shot before the 3rd flight took off.

A week of unguided catered skiing at Sol Mountain Lodge is approximately $1950 CAD per person. For rates and availability for different combinations (guided or otherwise check here). Bring spare goggles, gloves and snorkels.

(Sol Mountain Lodge supplied accommodations to Sharon and Lee, lodge owners and staff did not edit or have a say in the content of the article.)


Comments

6 Responses to “Sol Mountain Ski Touring — Monashees Powpalooza”

  1. SedgeSprite March 24th, 2017 9:33 am

    What sort of quivers were present? Did you focus on wide and light to maximize uphill?

  2. Kristian March 24th, 2017 12:20 pm

    What dates/time of year were you there?

  3. Lee Lau March 24th, 2017 3:13 pm

    @Kristian – its’ buried in the video but last week of January 2017

    @SedgeSprite – Mostly around the 100 to 115mm width. Seems like the trend is away from super fat.

    I ended up busting lots of skintrack using Blizzard ZeroG 108 with Fritschi Vipecs. Had Dynafit Mercury and Scarpa F1 boots to use and alternated those. Most days were about 1500m vert with the last two days being 1800 and 1950m vert. Fly out bonus day was 600m over the 4 bonus runs.

    Some people got more – some got less. Tons of terrain choice

  4. Lynne Wolfe March 24th, 2017 9:17 pm

    Next I want to go. Been too long since a Canadian hut trip. Nice write-up, Lee.

  5. Joe John March 25th, 2017 9:42 pm

    Excellent pictorial!

  6. Stewart Birmingham April 6th, 2017 8:53 pm

    Nice! Thanks for bringing me back. I had the pleasure of enjoying that lodge and its excellent terrain during my recent AMGA course; perfect venue, I’d say. Cheers!





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