When I first spot Sol Mountain Lodge, it looks like a small dot in a wilderness of untouched white. The helicopter almost skims the top of the snow-laden trees as we make our final approach. It touches down, is quickly unloaded and takes off again, leaving me here for the next four days. Sol Mountain Touring’s backcountry lodge is located in Canada’s spectacular southern Monashee Mountains mid-way between Vernon and Revelstoke, British Columbia. I feel like I have been transported to another world.
I am greeted by Aaron Cooperman, one of the friendly owners of Sol Mountain Touring and a certified ACMG mountain guide. Aaron’s first priority is getting the new guests on track with some basic safety training. We are outfitted with avalanche beacons and instructed on their use including a practice session of burying and searching for them. Sol Mountain Touring’s high safety standards require snowshoers, cross-country skiers and backcountry skiers to wear the beacons at all times when away from the lodge.
And then…the reason I came. I strap on my snowshoes and head out to explore with Aaron and several other guests. It is snowing hard for much of the day, adding fresh powder to the significant existing snowpack. While this makes for slow going, I feel privileged at the opportunity to enjoy such pristine wilderness. There are simply no other tracks, animal or human. When the sky clears slightly, the pale light of the sun magically shines through a snow squall. I come to a descent and run down it, suddenly feeling light on my snowshoes.
Late in the afternoon we return to the lodge and settle in. The atmosphere is easy and informal, while the comfort level is high with a distinct resort feel. It is sometimes difficult to remember that this is a backcountry experience. The eight warm and comfortable bedrooms are well outfitted with hooks and shelves for gear and clothing. Shared bathrooms and showers have ample hot water, as the lodge is fully serviced with indoor plumbing and electricity. A large and spacious living/dining room serves as a meeting place for guests and guides to re-live the day’s adventures, while a quiet enclave can be found in the upstairs yoga room for reading or stretching. Each evening I am newly impressed with the level of comfort and thoughtfulness the owners of Sol Mountain have infused into the lodge, from large windows perfectly framing the mountain views, to appetizers and drinks served beside a roaring fire after a day of snowshoeing.
Snowshoeing destinations are almost limitless in the expansive area surrounding the lodge, including the lakes and mountains of Monashee Provincial Park. The meadow adjacent to the lodge provides ample opportunity for an easy romp, while the longer and more challenging trek to Mission Ridge is immensely rewarding with its big vistas of peaks and valleys. We are overall in open terrain with little to obstruct our views. It snows every night of my stay, making each morning fresh and beautiful.
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