by Sasha Barkans
Ask any skier or snowboarder what their dream day would look like and their answers will be remarkably similar: deep untracked snow, no lift lines, and diverse terrain. The hunt for the aforementioned conditions and features is a season long affair. Gear is purchased and tuned, maps and weather reports are pored over—and still—there are seasons where those epic and measureless mountain days just never arrive. Enter Sol Mountain Lodge; a backcountry lodge located deep within the Southern Monashee Mountains near Revelstoke, British Columbia. A mountain lodge surrounded by 30,000 acres of terrain that is truly at the apex of accessibility and diversity. Departure and staging occurs in a field in the tiny town of Cherryville, British Columbia, located about 300 miles from Vancouver. While there is potential for a 40-mile snowmobile journey to get you to the lodge, on a clear day, a stunning 15-minute helicopter ride is all it takes to get to paradise.
Established in 2004 by owners Aaron Cooperman and Paul Pearson, the lodge was carefully placed in a snow-heavy location between treeline and alpine elevations. This translates to easy backcountry access, regardless of the weather and conditions, enabling visitors to find big mountain lines, or some mellow glade lines right out of the door. If the weather is truly cooperating, you can prepare for some epic 3,000 foot descents from summit to creek. Co-founder Cooperman (a lifelong skier and mountain man) wanted to create something different within British Columbia’s backcountry lodge landscape. “The thing that makes Sol Mountain Lodge so unique is the lack of ego. While big mountain skiers can definitely find some epic lines and terrain here, for some guests it’s their first backcountry trip. Our elevation and location within the Monashee Mountains ensure that we have great terrain for all experience levels, and we welcome split-boarders and skiers.”
The culture Cooperman and Pearson have created is palpable upon entry into the 10-bedroom, 3,500 square-foot lodge. Guides mingle with guests sharing beers and speaking above maps about impending conditions, while some stretch out in front of the fire with local BC wines. Others get zen in the panoramic yoga room. Days usually start in the expansive kitchen; while bacon and eggs fry, groups peer through windows, at maps and consult with Sol’s crew of guides to plot their adventures. On our visit, after breakfast, everyone strapped on their beacons and packed their probes and tested the lodge’s radio transceivers. After confirming conditions with staff, guests are required to run through a quick training course. Feeling safe and informed actually added to the imminent fun.
Skinning up the surrounding mountains was relatively easy. Once at the summit, we were able to confirm lines and terrain with the lodge via our transceivers. Cooperman recommended some steep glades that were naturally well-spaced, recommending we “mini-putt,” a term he uses for skinning and skiing small sections of the mountain all day.
Once thoroughly exhausted, one is able to return to the three-story lodge and its crackling fires. While the lodge’s exposed wood frame and comfy furniture nod to the backcountry surroundings, the off-grid amenities feel more like a five-star resort. The hydro-generated electricity provides all day comfort (and a great WiFi connection), while private bedrooms, a large dining room, a quiet yoga room, and a wood-fired sauna provide enough space and comfort to be as near or far as you want from the rest of your group. “While I’d love if guests were able to simply enjoy the beautiful surroundings, I understand that sometimes you need WiFi,” Cooperman says, “A lot more people are coming here for work-vacations now and I think it’s great. We want to be able to cater to all guests and all of their needs and desires, not just on the mountain and via the terrain, but also through the lodge.”
Sol Mountain Lodge’s winter season is open each year from late November to 13 April—but keep in mind, the heaviest snowfall is in February and March. A four-night stay at the lodge including full meals, guides, and heli-transfer from Cherryville starts at $1525 CAD. Self-guided trips begin at $920.
Second image courtesy of Sol Mountain Lodge, all others by Sasha Barkans