Home > Trip Reports > March 1, 2003, Sentry Mtn Lodge,Esplanade Range,Se

March 1, 2003, Sentry Mtn Lodge,Esplanade Range,Se

3/1/03
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Posted by Zap on 3/4/03 3:56am
Jill and I just returned from spending a week at the new Sentry Mtn Lodge in BC.  We started our trip a day early by skiing at Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops in 6" of powder. Their high speed quads allowed us to crank in over 21,00 vf in 3 hours.  That evening we arrived at the Best Western at Rogers Pass in a blizzard-a great sign.  Met the other 6 members of our group over dinner and exchanged dreams of the upcoming week. Next morning we drove 30 minutes east to the helipad at Heather Mtn Lodge.  We flew in on a 4 passenger A-Star.  I had the front passenger seat during the 10 minute flight which flew over all 3 of the Golden Alpine Holiday huts enroute to Sentry Mtn Lodge. The lodge is located at 6920' and has over 8400 acres of terrain in their permit area.  The lodge is in its second winter of operation and has worked out all the kinks. The lodge has 4 bedrooms which sleep 2 or 3 clients, 2 indoor bathrooms, a shower, kitchen, lounge, dining and drying rooms. A separate bldg has the Finnish sauna and another shower.  Electric power is provided by batteries which are recharged daily by a generator while clients are out skiing.  We were a self guided group but opted for the meal package(smart choice).  Aleks(one of the owners) was our chef and we gorged ourselves daily on European cuisine. She even baked my favorite peach pie. She's also Polish. :)  

The day before we arrived the area received 70cm of BC's finest powder - YAHOO.  Our next seven days were epic.  Night temperatures down to minus 24 C to keep all that powder dry with daytime highs of minus 10 C to provide great climbing temps.  Most days we had brilliant sunshine with only 2 days starting overcast then becoming sunny.  Minimum  winds kept the snow light and we received a few cm on 2 evenings. When it's this good, it's usually illegal.  Our biggest challenge each day was deciding where we wanted to ski - boot to knee deep powder.  Breaking trail was fairly easy with our inventory of professional trail breakers including Carter(Quad 1), Craig(Q2) and Dave(Q3) - love those guys.  

Naturally, we were aware of the avy conditions and we skied conservatively.  Snow pit confirmed the buried hoar frost layer and subsequent layers.  The terrain is so vast that finding safe terrain was easy. Mike,another owner, was present and worked on various projects including a satelite internet connection which may be available to clients at a later date - all rooms have coax already.  Mike provided excellent terrain advice plus skied with us 2 days between projects.  Mike's one of those incredibly strong trail breakers and skiers.  I followed him over a few lips and landed into deep powder pillows as we decended tight trees.  In the alpine, we limited our slope selection to 30 degees and spent the majority of our time in the glades.  Chic Scott  supposedly commented that Sentry has the most extensive tree terrain around.  We can confirm that staement.  There are tree runs of 500 to 1800 vf.  Our finest tree run occured on the last day when we  found "Excalibur" now known as "Orgasmic Explosion" - 850 vf,40 degrees, 10 feet wide and west facing.

The views were epic.  From the lodge's dining table we looked east across the Columbia Reach to the Canadian Rockies and Mt. Bryce, the Columbia Icefield with Snowdome and Mt. Columbia.  Just behind the lodge on Rampart Ridge, the Adamant Range(my next trip to Fairy Meadows hut) sparkeled with Mt. Sir Sanford protruding majestically.  It was a photographers mecca. 7 days of sun, powder, great food, lodging and friends.  WOW.  Zap
Wow. Nice report, Zap.
That's another one to put on my list.  Thanks.

Sounds great, Zap. You certainly had the weather working for you. Alf Skrastins and Albi Sole are lining up University of Calgary OPC (Outdoor Program Centre) trips there for next year. They were enthusiastic (but hadn't visited it yet). After reading your report I'm going.


I've done 4 trips into those GAH huts you flew over, and the skiing was awesome each time, ranging from late January through early April. The folks we went with said they've gone 7 additional years, and never had a bad line. The terrain is low enough that it tends not to get quite as hammered by wind as places like Fairy Meadow, and the tree skiing is generally awesome, which is great for storm days but nice for other days as well! I don't know about Sentry, but the only lack at GAH is the big glacier/icefield type of skiing, and the really BIG peaks. But if you're out more for turns and views, locals from up there tell me that the Esplanade range is hard to beat.

Sounds like the Sentry lodge is a little cushier than GAH (e.g. showers, electric, internet in the plans) unless GAH has upgraded in the past two years. Your report makes me want to book a trip to Sentry now, but I'm sure I'll also return to the GAH terrain.

Jim,

The owners of GAH and Sentry Mtn have a great relationship.  In the summer, I understand they conduct traverses from GAH huts to Sentry.  On one of our sunny days, we skied into Colpitty Creek drainage which you probably skied while at Vista hut. Our entry was completely across the valley from where Vista skiers enter down the steep pass. Sentry and GAH talk daily on "the party line" and make certain that only one of them is in the drainage.  I believe this is the only area they share. Sentry Mtn lodge was wonderful and great views, sunny skies, cold temperatures and 70cm of powder sure enhanced the memory. :)  Zap

Many fine runs in the Colpiti (sp?) creek drainage, in fact! And some great photos in the low light up on that opposite wall from where you entered. And the finest midnight ski I've ever done up to the edge of that drainage. That does it - I'm going to start doing the research to book a week next year!!

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Zap
2003-03-04 11:56:20