Mt Brew by heli – A Lillooet experience

Words by Lee Lau. Pictures by Lee Lau and Brian Earle. All Rights Reserved

After retreating off Joffre we headed to Lillooet. Brian had never been there been before and it was cool for him to see how the rock, snow and ice changed as we drove from W to E over just a short 40 minutes. We showed up at Chris’s house with beer, ice-cream and chips and were welcomed!

It’s an ugly and vicious rumour that all Lillooet-based backcountry heli-assisted ski tours start with Kokanee and stunning lake views.

The Village of Lillooet was filming a documentary to showcase recreation in town in winter. They needed ski models and Brian, Chris, Kevin and I needed something to do. Having failed in yesterday’s attempt to deathmarch myself into the ground I felt the urge to ski some big N faces. It didn’t take much work to convince me to take the easy way to Mt Brew – the massive relief overlooking Lilloeet (Brew – 2891m; Lilloeet – 260m => LOTS of elevation to drop).

Oh air-donkey, how we love you and caress you with tender care

Seton Lake bird’s eye view. Whitecap in the distance

Hovering over Seton Lake and Lillooet looking down onto the Riley Crk, Enterprise Crk drainages and the Duffy Lake Road itself. Seton Ridge and the Shalath area stretches out in the background

Unloading the bird

The weather and conditions definitely could have been better. The N face of Brew that we had wanted to ski looked like 45 degrees of 600m of wind-raked snow terminating in a shiny icy glissade. We elected to drop onto a lower ridge that was a bit wind-protected.

Wind-swept ridge at about 2200m – the heli leaves

I didn’t do the pit to ground but guessed about 200 cms of snow based on a quick probe with a ski at the base of the hasty pit I dug. We tested a NW facing chute with about 300m of runout into a big open bowl. 1F to 4F snow in top 60 w/ solid pencil layer (possibly from high pressure??) approx 40 cms thick. No sign of faceting although that would have been surprising to see given relatively deep pack and windy nature of test spot.

We skied off the ridge with just enough sunlight and slutty turns to (hopefully) keep the filmers happy and make them feel like they got their money’s worth. Snow didn’t reach to hard ski cuts.

Kevin dropping in

Lee getting in a run

We headed a bit eastalong a ridge to see if we could get more skiing and found a treed slope to ski. It had been wind-affected in spots up high but was better down low and we managed to get another 300m shot out the slope. The snowpack was shallow but still fairly stable with recent storm snow sluffing.




We didn’t want to spoil that fine powder run by not bootpacking so up we went for another go at a chute at about 2300m elevation that we later called “Fingernails on the Chalkboard” couloir or alternatively “Don’t Eat Yellow Snow” couloir. This route took us for a climb continuing along the east ridge then up to the ridge approaching Brew summit proper along a rocky wind-swept wide bench. It’s a nice way to go as you get a chance to scope your lines and assess snow conditions along the route.

Chris scoping the line

Looking down about 500m downslope to where the slopes bench out and hit subalpine

Chris drops in


In Chris’s own words: “Kevin, Brian and I found variable snow, with 70km/hr gusts blowing right up the couloir… turning in pow resulted in huge faceshots as your sluff was blown back uphill into your face. The bottom third has slid and taken some dirt with it, resulting in yellow streaks down the couloir – hence

“Don’t eat the yellow snow couloir”

Lee dropped in just as the light worsened and luckily enough we had sloughed all the pow out, so he was stuck skiing hard pack.. hence Lee calling it “Fingernails on the chalkboard“”

My view as I dropped in – picture taken from the bottom

The prize for skiing is a Kokanee slurpee for Kevin

Exit is pretty easy from here down through Enterprise Creek. Fueled by thoughts of all-you-can down MSG at the Totem chinese restaurant we made a quick exit despite the standard Coast terrain of slide alder, downed trees, cutblocks and logging roads. We skied down to the 3km mark on the Enterprise FSR and were back at the vehicle in good time.

Exiting the trees

Last cut-block was a faceted horrow-show so we skinned up for a short climb to the road

Enterprise FSR is no longer maintained by Ainsworth but only has one washout at about 5 kms

Days rout – the GPS went a bit haywire and I think we’re missing a bunch of data

Elevation including heli ride

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