Powder Dreamstuff: Blanket Glacier Chalet Touring B.C., Video Courtesy of Dan Csokonay
Nestled deep in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia lies the Blanket Glacier Chalet.
“The Blanket” as it is known is only accessible by helicopter and features a plethora of backcountry touring accessed terrain.
As the helicopter rose above the Columbia River at 8 am and threaded its way through valleys and gorges, the snow swirling around the rotors thickened. Similarly, the snow cover on the largely obscured peaks and valleys increased dramatically.
Upon landing at the Chalet, we could see that there were already meters of snow deposited at our location. At 1700 meters, with average temperatures below freezing, and a snow-free season of a little over a month, the Chalet and surrounding terrain were already covered in snow.
After avalanche equipment and awareness training, we set out into the white. Ski after ski, the snow towering around our skin track, we trekked further into the wilderness behind our guide and “Blanket” local Marty Schaffer. Trees, lakes, mountains, everything was covered in fresh snow.
After about an hour of touring, we were ready to drop into the flawless expanse of untracked soft snow. Due to the 20cm of fresh snow and even deeper depths of powder underlying that, we chose to stay among the trees to mitigate avalanche risks.
A bottomless playground is the best way to describe the conditions present in the terrain that day. We dashed down the wooded face dodging only trees as we raced through the snow. Every turn, the snow swirled over our heads.
Throughout the next few days, continuous snowfall totaling over 80cm kept us around the trees, but the terrain and good vibes were plentiful. The powder was light, fluffy, cold, consistently settled, and seemingly everywhere. With Marty’s guidance and the immense amounts of fresh snow, we were laying down fresh tracks during every run even though we stayed within adjacent zones to optimize our up-track.
After 3 days of surfing through light powder, free refills, and hitting nearly any feature in sight, the fresh snowfall abated. On our last full day at the chalet, we were finally able to venture into the alpine to see more of the massive terrain.
The sun came out, and we ventured upwards once again, this time with full blue-bird visibility. Lucky for us, the avalanche conditions were tolerable at a moderate level with a slight risk of wind-effect, and a settling snowpack that largely stabilized a deeply buried crust from December 9th. Our goal for the day was reaching a nearby peak. The day’s up-track led us through everything from the familiar depths of Blanket powder, to foreign-seeming wind-blown crust and ice in the high alpine. Yet in our descent, the few meters of technical alpine terrain faded behind us as we again raced through bottomless powder in the alpine.
Overall, the conditions at “Blanket” are what dreams are made of. Bottomless powder, viable skiable options for everything from low visibility to increased avalanche danger days, very comfortable lodging and catering, and immaculate guiding and local knowledge (courtesy Marty Schaffer and his team).