Earlier this winter Blackstrap Marketing Manager, Tim Karpinski, got a message. It was from his longtime friend and Gnu Art Director, Shawn Bishop, saying, “We have a last minute opening in our Canada Hut trip, you in?” He wrote back immediately, “yes!”. These are his words about his trip to Meadow Lodge in BC, Canada.
What I would come to find out about the trip is that I was agreeing to an unreal adventure to the top of the World. The crew of 14 was made up of hardcore backcountry enthusiasts with backgrounds in mountaineering and climbing. The destination was the elusive Meadow hut which is part of the hut group ran by the Golden Alpine Holiday tours of Golden, British Columbia. These groups of huts, only accessible by Helicopter, are located atop the Esplanade Mountain Range of the Canadian Rockies.
"In 7 Days We Climbed Over 20,000 Vertical Feet."
The crew met in Revelstoke the night before our ride. Hugs, High fives, and grocery store missions prepared us for the week ahead. The crew received Blackstrap Therma baselayers, Expedition Hoods, and beanies to keep everyone warm and protected up in the mountains. The heli flew out the next day from the staging area in the remote Rogers Pass with the small group members from Denver, Seattle, and Bend, prepared for the adventure. This is when we met our trip guide, Mike aka: Big Mike aka Modest Mike.
The crew included: Will Kirscher, Chris Spalding, Shawn Bishop, Scott Bailey, Garrett Hoppe, Madeline Lee, Kevin Bellany, Paul Montague, David Kiker, Byron (BJ) Richards, Patrick Haynes, and the tour coordinator and Diamond Couloir 1st descender Whitney Kiker, and me….Tim Karpinski.
A 30 minute helicopter ride to 8,000 feet took us to our beautiful cabin named the Meadow Lodge tucked away deep in a valley beside a glacial lake at the foot of Mt. Capali. Meadow lodge, famous for its pillow lines right below the hut, is also the launching pad for some of the steepest and longest runs in the Esplanades Mt. Range. A short hike to Paradise Ridge is the access point for some of the Esplanade's best west-facing runs (which we descended) and from here you're treated with incredible views of Mt. Sir Sandford which, at an elevation of 11,545, is the highest mountain in the entire Selkirk Range.
Each day the crew met with the guide to review avalanche reports for the day, packed our lunch, put on our blackstrap gear, and grabbed our touring gear to set out for our daily adventure into the mountains. In 7 days we climbed over 20,000 vertical feet summiting Mt. Cupola multiple times, and for me, twice in one day! The highlight of this trip was dropping in my 1st couloir named the “Diamond Couloir”. It was the run of a lifetime.
Big thanks to Mike for keeping us safe and stoked, the whole adventure crew of 13 and the team at Golden Alpine Holidays for creating this little slice of heaven in the mountains.