Stanley Mitchell Hut - 3.31.13 - 4.5.13

Stanley Mitchell Hut, Little Yoho Valley. The Vice President, President, and Kerr, mountains.
Looking out our front door - choose your own adventure. Left to right - The Vice President, President, and Mt. Kerr. Little Yoho Valley, BC.
This trip turned out to be one of the best of my life! We had good to great snow the whole time--especially great considering that it hadn't snowed in a while--good stability, and, for most of our stay, the entire place to ourselves. Growing up in the Cascades, the Canadian Rockies were a huge change for me, and it was amazing to see snow-covered peaks all the way to the horizon in every direction. I have never seen anything like it. The price for that terrain and solitude was a 14 mile approach and exit, which was a slog to say the least, but it was well worth it.


Day 1: Slog in.

Seriously. I was ready for a long flat one, and it did not disappoint. The last few miles uphill through the woods were icing on the cake. One member of the group made a pretty impressive homemade pulk-style sled. Pulling it in was not so impressive, and I think we were all ready to throw it in the creek by the last few miles. Those sleds don't travel uphill through tight trees. Not recommended. The bonus was some great scenery, with amazing terrain on both sides, and what I'm told is world-class ice climbing. Also, the weather was fantastic, and we did most of the day in t-shirts. When we got there, there were a total of 27 people in the 22 person hut. Apparently it was a Canadian holiday, and everyone was making the most of the three day weekend.

The group ready to skin into Stanley Mitchell hut.
The group, and that damn sled, at the trail head.
Har Rai Khalsa preparing to skin into Stanley Mitchell hut.
Ready for a long one.

 Day 2: The President 10,295.

The President Mountain, Little Yoho Valley BC.
The President, as seen from our front door.

The location of the hut is amazing, in terms of the terrain that extends all around it. You could look in any direction and see inspiring lines to be ridden. The only limiting factor was that since it hadn't snowed in a long time, the best snow was limited to the north aspects. But there were no shortage of north facing slopes, and we found great terrain to ride every day!

The forecast was for two days of great weather, and then for a weak front to move in. Even though we were all tired from the trip in, we decided to make the most of the sunshine, and go straight for the biggest peak--The President--on our first day in the valley.

The trip up the Presidential Glacier took about 4 hours, and put us in the col between the President and the Vice President.
The President on the left, Vice President on the right, looking across the Little Yoho Valley.
The President on the left and Vice President on the right, looking across the Little Yoho Valley.

We headed up the ridge towards the peak of the President, but by then it was already 11:30, and we had just switched to a south aspect. The temperatures felt like they jumped 20°f as soon as we turned the corner. It was the hottest day of the week, and the slopes were baking in the sun. Travel was easy, and the climbing wasn't very technical, but the slopes were sustained for thousands of feet, and would have swept you over a few cliff bands on their way to the valley floor. Three of us were uncomfortable with the aspect and temperature, two continued on. They made it safely, but it took them a long time and those slopes only got warmer.

Man looks up at The President mountain, which reflects in his glasses.
Art contemplates the climb. He ended up standing on the summit.

Har Rai Khalsa climbs The President Mountain, Little Yoho Valley.
Yours truly, right before we headed down. Photo: Abrahm Lustgarten.

A giant cornice overhangs a skin track.
A massive cornice, and our skin track across the glacier, just off route.
View from the summit. Similar views in every direction. Photo: Jeremy Haas.

Art and Jeremy reappeared from the summit after about an hour.
Art and Jeremy wave from The President mountain.
...and gave us a wave.

It was a disappointment, to not get that summit, but the conditions felt wrong, and if you're not feeling it, you're not feeling it. Even in hindsight, knowing those guys made it down safely, I still think it was the right decision. We'll get it next time.

The ride down the glacier was great, and long. After Art--who famously survived a multi-day ordeal after taking a 100 foot (vertical) fall off of the Wapta traverse some years ago--narrowly avoided an up close look at the inside of the glacier when the bergschrund that he skied over collapsed, we had a great ride back to our front door.

Riding down the NW slope of the Vice President. Photo: Abrahm Lustgarten.
GoPro3 self shot snowboarding down The Presidential glacier.
We got to open it up on the way back down - hero turns.

We got back down by around 3:00, and with so many lines around, I was eager to check off some of the close ones that I new the group wasn't going to get to. I mistakenly ate someone's special brownies before trying to scramble up a 1000ft 40° scree pile to get to a little couloir I had my eye one, but that's a story for another day.

Day 3: West of The President.

The clouds came in early and the light got pretty flat, so I don't have many photos, but we still had a great day and found fun lines--picking our way through some cliff bands and the occasional cloud. I have some GoPro footage that I will get around to editing eventually.

The group at the pass just west of The President.
The group at the pass - mountains to the horizon.

Justin Zucconi HDR shot looking like a mountain god.
Justin Zucconi: HDR mountain god.
Day 4: Mt. Kerr.
Group looks over a map, choosing the route for the day, Stanley Mitchell Hut, BC.
Choosing the route for the day.

We traveled to the far west end of the valley, and stood on a summit for the first time as a whole group. The light was really flat, so the photos were kept to a minimum. The climb is not technical and we were able to skin to 100 feet below the summit, allowing us to push on as the visibility decreased. We found good snow on the slope below the summit, and yo-yo'd that a few times before heading back into the valley.

Head cam shot traversing over a cliffband
Got a little off route and had a nice traverse on the way back down.

We got back early and three of us went on a mission for some lines right around the hut.

Bootpacking up a couloir, Stanley Mitchell Hut.
Our only real bootpacking of the trip.

Two skiers bootpack up a couloir, Stanley Mitchell Hut.
Art and Jeremy near the top.
Har Rai Khalsa snowboards a couloir outside of Stanley Mitchell Hut.
I finally got the line I'd been eying all trip. Photo: Art Lustgarten.

Day 5: The north side - great snow!

After exhausting most of the obvious north-facing objectives that we could see, we decided to head past the south facing slopes behind us, and see what options awaited on the backside. We found some of the best snow of the trip, and got some sun breaks after two days of flat light.

Two skiers skin across Little Yoho Valley with The President and Vice President in the background.
Abrahm and Art heading north, The President and Vice President across the valley.
Telemarker making powder turns, Stanley Mitchell Hut, BC.
Art enjoys the best snow of the trip down a 1,500ft shot we found.

Telemarker does a high-speed turn, Stanley Mitchell Hut, BC.
Jeremy knows how to do a proper turn - flying.
Skier does a powder turn Stanley MItchell Hut.
Justin, 1 week from the last real snowfall and still knee-deep at times.
Skier does a high-speed turn, Stanley Mitchell Hut, BC.
Justin, high-speed turn out the bottom.

Day 6: Slog out.

I don't really remember too much about this day; I think I blacked most of it out. There are little flashes that come back to me every once in a while of rain, collapsing snow, and failing G3 skin glue, but I quickly forget about that day, and focus on the good times and the lines that I will get next time I am up that way.

Mountain face to the East of the Vice President, Stanley Mitchell Hut, BC.
The lines that got away.
Skier skins out to the highway, Stanley Mitchell Hut, BC.
Jeremy on the final stretch. Until next time.
I have some video that I will eventually get to, so if you want to see that, as well as future trip reports, follow this blog or add it to your RSS feed.


  1. Absolutely incredible pics! The splitboarding up there in Oregon looks amazing! Nice work!

    1. Thanks! Give me a shout if you're ever in the area.