This was my first time in the Selkirks and it was superb. There was tons of snow and great skiing. The disadvantage of the Selkirks is the 7 hour drive from Edmonton. But it is worth it every once in awhile. We drove up Friday night eventually arriving at the trailhead around 1am. Since it was so late, we didn't see much point staying at the hotel, so the 3 of us in my car just rolled out our sleeping bags and slept in our seats. Not the best sleep but good enough.
The ski in was interesting. I am not use to seeing so many big slopes in such a small area. There seems to be a lot less flat areas in the Selkirks than the Rockies. The huge tree wells were also new to me. Some of them looked pretty scary. The ascent to the hut is actually pretty strenuous since there is more uphill than the huts I am used to staying at in the Rockies. The mousetrap was a little scary to go through since it is a collection place where a bunch of slopes meet. I plowed away up the slope as fast as I could to make it to the safety of the tree triangle. I was sweating which made my sunscreen run into my eyes partially blinding me. I managed to still find my way to the tree triangle by only occasionally opening my eyes to adjust my route. Once in the triangle I had a chance to rinse the sunscreen out with snow and cool off. The approach route from there was pretty steep. No break from the steep ascent until you reach the hut. A group from Idaho caught up to us and broke trail the rest of the way to the hut. They were just there for the day. They continued on up the Seven Steps of Paradise. I think they made it to the top but we are not sure since they didn't come in to chat on the way down.
The hut is very beautiful. It is a log cabin built by parks and is now maintained by the ACC. We had the place all to ourselves on the first night and on the second had a couple to share it with. There was no visibility above the hut on the day in so some of us did turns below the hut where we could see better.
On the 2nd day we tried to ascend to the top of the Seven Steps of Paradise. Since visibility wasn't very good we followed the ascent track of the group from Idaho. It wasn't easy for me to follow since it had snowed a fair bit the previous night. I eventually go to a point where I couldn't find it. The slope was steeper at that point. We dug a pit to test the strength of the snowpack. The results were very encouraging but without knowing where we were going or what was above us it wasn't worth it to keep going. The visibility wasn't great so we stuck pretty close to our uptrack on the way down. It was hard to turn in the heavy powder, so I we ended up doing some wobbling instead on the way down. The rest of the day we did yoho skiing up the Seven Steps stopping just before the start of the glacier. As the light started to fade the powder improved and was a little easier to ski.
The day out we did one more lap up the Seven Steps. The visibility was much better. The cloud had risen above most peaks. The temperature was also lower. The skiing was much better on the Seven Steps as a result. On the way down from the hut the snow was very poor with a heavy crust. The Mouse Trap had the worst snow. The crust was icy and previous ski tracks would catch your skis making it difficult to stay in control. I ended up snow plowing a fair bit. The rest of the descent through the forest was enjoyable. The snow was icy but controllable. We passed at least 3 groups heading up to the hut. Glad we got to enjoy the hut without it being too crowded. Once back at the parking lot it seemed that at least a foot of snow had melted while we were up there. Definitely a great trip with great people. I will keep returning until I can ascend to the top of the Seventh Step.
Good TR Eric. There must be other cabins in the Rockies with more arduous approaches? What about Stanley Mitchell? It's a good truck but maybe not that much elevation gain.
Thanks. Stanley Mitchell is definitely a much longer slog. For some reason I found this approach more strenuous. Maybe its because when I went into the Stanley Mitchell this year we didn't have to break trail. The huts I have skied into in the rockies (Stanley Mitchell, Peyto, Bow, Balfour) have longer sections of flat.