5 trips to take this winter
Here are just a few adventures you should try this season
Ski hut to hut in Quebec
With 15 backcountry huts and 120 kilometres of marked trails, the Réserve Faunique de Papineau-Labelle, northeast of Ottawa, is the perfect place for a multi-night ski tour. Depending on the size, the winterized huts ($23.75 per night) can accommodate between four and 12 people. For an additional fee ($22.75 per person), park staff will shuttle bags between the huts for guests, leaving skiers free to enjoy the forested terrain without the weight of a big pack.
More information and reservations: Sepaq
Climb Alberta’s tallest peaks
Many of Alberta’s highest mountains can be ticked off during the Alpine Club of Canada’s week-long Peakbagging on the Columbia Icefield trip. After establishing a base camp on the icefield itself, participants are within a day’s ski of eight peaks over 11,000 feet, including Alberta’s highest point, the 12,293-foot Mount Columbia. Most summits are an easy or moderate climb followed by classic turns back to camp, with sweeping mountain and glacier views the whole way.
Cost: $1,795, May 1 to 8
More information: The Alpine Club of Canada
Go heliskiing for less
One of the least expensive ways to get in on the heli experience is to go with Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) on their heli-assisted backcountry ski week in B.C.’s Selkirk Mountains. CMH uses the helicopter just for the approach; a guide breaks trail for the rest of the day’s vertical. At $500 a day, it still isn’t cheap, but when you compare it to the industry standard of $1,000-plus a day, it’s a good deal. And you’ll stay at CMH’s Adamant Lodge, a veritable backcountry palace.
More information: Canadian Mountain Holidays
Visit Grey Owl’s cabin
Deep in the heart of Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert National Park sits the cabin where the pioneer conservationist and author Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, better known as Grey Owl, lived for seven years as the national parks’ first naturalist. The cabin, called Beaver Lodge, is located on Ajawaan Lake, and you can ski there on an ungroomed trail. It’s a 15-kilometre trip one-way, so you should plan on spending a night camped out. Watch and listen for the 100 wolves that call the park home.
More information: Prince Albert National Park
Tour Gros Morne
Not many people think of exploring Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park in the winter, but the park’s mountains make a great backcountry skiing playground, complete with two secluded huts ($30/person/night). Bakers Brook Hut-which can be reached by an easy 8.5-kilometre ski on fairly flat terrain-is a good base for going deeper into the Long Range Mountains. Just remember: Skiing beyond Bakers or to Southwest Gulch Hut is like travelling into mountainous terrain in the west, which means you’ll need the proper avalanche and winter navigation skills.
More information: Gros Morne National Park
This article was originally published on November 5, 2009