Sorcerer Lodge – Day 1- Heinous Traverse – Wizard Gullies – Moraine Run

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Sharon and I have had this trip to Sorcerer Lodge planned for almost half a year. I’ve been researching the terrain and route options and adding beta from other previous trips to a general trip preparation page; steadily getting more and more excited as I realize that the terrain is glaciated, big and burly. A dicey persistent weak layer had formed in the Selkirks. Compounding this hazard was daily doses of new snow. Finally, to add icing to the cake, a special avalanche bulletin was issued for the entire area.

Conditions seemed so grim that, one of the more experienced members of our group cancelled his trip at the last minute, forfeiting his entire prepayment.

However, with the attitude that, at worst, we could just meadow-skip low-angle powder slopes, Sharon and I headed off to Golden to meet the group.

Sorcerer Lodge is north of Glacier National Park and SE of Iconoclast Mountain.

We drove in from Vancouver on Friday and met up with our group in Golden on Friday night; flying out from Heather Mountain Lodge near the GNP east boundary on Saturday morning. It’s a pretty mixed group of tele’ers and AT types (no splitboarders). Our connection with this group is through Greg, a good friend of ours from Canmore. We’ve biked with Greg a few times but have never skied with him. The group is self-guided but we hired a cook (Dee Dee Cote from Nelson). Most of the group is from the Calgary/Banff/Canmore area with a couple from Rossland, us from Vancouver and one from Nelson.

Every group at the lodge has a hut custodian who looks after general chores. We really lucked out as we got a great custodian (Merrie-Beth Board from Golden) with tons of knowledge of the local terrain and a lot of useful beta. Not only was MB a sweetheart – she also skied with us every day!

The helicopter flight stages out of Heather Mountain Lodge from the base of Great Canadian


A short 7 minute flight up Ventego Creek gets you to Sorcerer Lodge

Approaching the moraine at the toe of the Nordic Glacier as the high alpine opens up

Sorcerer Lodge sits right at treeline on the edge of an alpine lake

Four flights got our group and its gear in. Almost everyone brought spare skis which meant lots of gear to tote. I got a great vibe watching our group work together hauling gear into the hut. Everyone worked and we got our stuff sorted out quick. Our cook, Dee Dee, was very organized – boxes were labelled and packaged according to each day. As the trip wore on, I really began to appreciate the value of a good cook who was professional, concerned about her client’s welfare and could whip up massive amounts of food for large numbers of hungry skiers.

The heli flies in another group and gear. Behind is Alder Ridge and wide – open faces to ski

After a quick meeting and discussion about latest observations and terrain beta, we were off to ski for the afternoon. I had been intrigued by an area marked the Heinous Traverse and wanted to check it out. Ignoring MB’s sensible advice to avoid exposed terrain I went to look at it – ignoring the prickling hair on the back of my neck as I traversed the big exposed slopes northward off the Wizard.

Although nothing bad happened, in retrospect, going into big terrain right off the bat when you don’t know what’s above you is a bad move. We were exposed the entire time on the traverse and really had no clear idea of conditions in the terrain above us. We quickly dropped off and skied 1000 ft ~ 350m down to Ventego Creek in nice waist to knee deep snow.

Our first run took us partway on the very exposed Heinous Traverse and then down to Ventego Creek

Greg getting off the traverse and pointing it down to Ventego Creek

Sharon finding the snow. Above is the Wizard north face supercouloir which runs spectacularly during storm cycles

Looking up towards the Wizard. There is no safe way to get up the Wizard

At Sorcerer you are running on Mountain Standard Time and it does not get dark until 6pm. Convention and safety protocol is to be back in the neighbourhood of the moraine below the hut by 5pm. We still had some time before we had to go back so Greg and I decided to take a look at the moraine run and ski some more turns. It was a fun exploration and a good preparation for tomorrow’s full-day activities.

View of the Nordic and Escargot glaciers from the toe of the lodge moraine

Greg dropping in off the moraine

Day 1′s map travels.

Day 1′s elevation profile

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