Why Whitecap?

Of all the huts, cabins, chalets, resorts, and stashes in Canada, why Whitecap (WhitecapAlpine.ca)?

Before we get started, let me assure you this is no sort of promotion sodden in the corruption of a comped trip. I paid full ticket to come up here and I’ll do the same again, I’m sure. No, my friends, we came to Whitecap because it’s one of the best places in BC and here’s why:

Terrain. Whitecap sits at 1870m, which is just below treeline in this part of the world. If the weather goes south–which it does quite frequently when you get 1000cm or more of snow each year–you’ve got trees to ski. Trees mean visibility and visibility means skiing when other lodges and heli-ski operations are shut down.

There’s a bit of glaciated terrain within reach, so that keeps things interesting, too. Above treeline there are bowls, chutes, couloirs, cliffs, and every other topographic feature imaginable. It’s also a no-fly zone, so no heli-skiers with which to compete.

Translation: you get to ski the goods, every day you’re here.

Elevation. Just down the road at Whistler, they get rain at least a few times during the winter. At 1870m (6150 feet), Whitecap is high enough the snow stays cold and rain events are thankfully rare. Treeline is just a few hundred feet above the hut, so in no time at all you’re ripping turns in wide-open bowls. Fun.

The gang. Ron, Karin, and Lars Andrews own Whitecap. Lars is an IFMGA guide (mountain god, raging skier, the works) and knows the terrain in and out. I’ve not met his mom, Karin, but judging by what a good guy Ron (dad) is, it’s a good bet she’s five-star. Ron hangs on long tours, knows the area as well as Lars, maintains the hut, and is the general go-to dude for all things. He’s also 66 and skies better than most of us guests!

Annemieke Smulders runs the kitchen. Uberskier, mountain minx, and wondrous chef, she dedicates herself to sending us home fatter than when we came. Annemieke toured with us today for six-plus hours, ripped skins when we got home, charged in the hut, and had hot pierogies, tea, and snacks ready to go within 15 minutes. She is from heaven.

Guides. We’re here with Colin Zacharias, IFMGA guide, technical consultant for the American Institute Avalanche of Research and Education, and examiner for the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and American Mountain Guide Association. Colin teaches all the AIARE level-3 courses in the States, has been the safety director at the winter Olympic games (Calgary), and ski toured just about everywhere there are slopes covered with snow. Most important, he’s a good guy and likes red wine.

The hut. Running water (fresh, pure, out of the river), a wood-fired sauna, satellite internet, comfy bunks, and splendid food.

So basically we come here because we eat so well, the skiing’s epic, every night is a good night’s rest.

Tomorrow–long day up to Piebiter Peak and the glacier on the north slopes.

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