Just got back from a 4 day trip at Talus Lodge on a MTN Guiding trip. Anna Elkins came with me and we were joined by Evan & Emily Oleson, Nina, Kevin, Kevin, Alex, Nick, Ryan, Jeff, Kitt and Sean, (I hope I got that correct!). We were guided by Kevin Hjertaas and Martin Lefebvre from MTN Guiding and our host Thomas Grandi. And last but not least we enjoyed some amazing food cooked by Sue Shih!
Outside of avalanche and mountaineering training I’ve never been on a guided lodge trip so the overall experience was a nice change from my usual snowcave sufferfest.
On our first day we flew into the lodge, did an avalanche refresher and skied a couple of short runs nearby. The second day we skied a zone that is easily in my personal top five tree/glade zones for this area of the Canadian Rockies, (and I’ve skied my fair share of trees around here!). The full run was around 500m of fall line tree/glade skiing with pillows/jumps scattered within the forest, a real treat. On the the third day we skied several shorter laps near a lake that hadn’t been full explored, the danger rating was still touchy so we didn’t get into anything too crazy but everywhere I looked I could see potential for some excellent steep/pillow/cliff sessions, offset with rolling playful glade laneways, (which is what we stuck to). I finished the third day by heading back to the lodge early with Thomas where we picked up Anna (who stayed in the lodge for the morning) and skied another 3 excellent glade/drainage laps close to the lodge. On the fourth and last day the sky cleared up a bit and we went for a nice tour in the low alpine/high treeline areas near the lodge and skied a few different pitches along the way.
We had mostly clear weather on the first and last days and steady snowfall between. We had some extremely strong winds during the storm days, so much so that it knocked people over and had one group doing whiteout navigation to get home! The snow was skiing excellent in the greater area during the whole trip.
Talus Lodge had previously been used mostly in the summer so a lot of the areas we were skiing were barely known to even the guides, which was right up my ally. It seems like most of the areas within reach of this lodge are well suited for skiing and the guides were able to insure we missed any flats or bushwhacks, which made for some amazing runs. I think the main highlights for skiing here are the playful rolling glade areas at treeline, the outstanding long tree/glade skiing just on the boarder of the lodge area and the big north facing alpine terrain that surrounds the lodge. We were not able to push into the steeper alpine lines due to the conditions but there are some very nice lines to bag when conditions permit, I’ll for sure be looking to go back some day in late spring. The lodge itself is very nice and has amazing 360 views. The Talon (a large talon shaped peak) can be seen from the dinning room, as can Mount Assiniboine. The local terrain and position of the lodge helps produce a sunrise and sunset show that makes everyone (including staff) literally drop what they are doing and run outside to fully experience.
A trip to Talus Lodge comes highly recommended and outside of not being able to sample those big alpine lines I’m not sure I would could have had a better first time guided lodge experience. Great guides, hosts, food and company!