Accessible only by air and tucked away in the Howson Range of the Coast Mountains near Smithers, the Burnie Glacier Chalet is British Columbia's most northwesterly mountain lodge. It rests on the Kweese Djakanyex house territory of the Tsayu clan of the Wet'suwet'en who in 1999, granted chalet owner/operator, Christoph Dietzfelbinger permission to build. In 2008 the surrounding area became Burnie Shea Provincial Park, a protected part of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory. The chalet is primarily known for its world class skiing, but also hosts guests during hiking season. When we visited in mid September, the air was crisp and clear, with no mosquitoes in sight!
STEP 1: SMITHERS
Arrive in Smithers the day before your trip. Grab a coffee and cruise main street for any last minute supplies you might need. Book a stay in Smithers or nearby Telkwa, a village located a 5 minute drive from Alpine Lakes Air on Tyhee Lake (where you fly out of).
STEP 2: FLY TO UPPER BURNIE LAKE
Head to the Alpine Lakes Air seaplane base and meet your pilot and guide. Hop on a 17 minute flight from Tyhee Lake to Upper Burnie Lake.
STEP 3: HIKE TO THE CHALET
Once you've landed at Upper Burnie Lake, don your pack and hike 4km up along the trail to the chalet! A few minutes into your hike, pay close attention to your surroundings and see if you can find a face carved into a tree, This face was carved long ago and guards the trail from the lake to the high mountains.
The chalet is three stories with feature windows facing down valley. The kitchen, dining and common area are on the second floor.Running water is provided by a small hydro turbine fed by a nearby mountain spring. There are five guest bedrooms on the third floor, each of which has two beds. The lodge sleeps ten guests, two guides, and one cook. *To stay at the chalet in summer you are required to book at least one guide. Ours was Sean of Hyland Backcountry Guides and this was coordinated by the chalet at the time of booking.
SHOWERS / BATHROOMS
There is a wood fired sauna right next to the lodge. The building has a primitive shower using water warmed by the sauna. An outhouse is located a short walk from the lodge. Mason jars are provided for each guest to use in the middle of the night. There is an open concept powder room (sink, water + mirror ) on the second floor of the chalet.
MEALS / SNACKS / BEVERAGES
The chalet's in house cook will amaze your tastebuds and keep you full with hearty made from scratch meals and snacks. Originally from Austria, our cook Monika Loschberger came to Smithers with her husband, two young children, and a wealth of family recipes, perfect for hungry hikers and skiers. We feasted on pork schnitzel, salads, soups and freshly baked pie made with local huckleberries. Coffee, tea and fresh mountain spring water are always available, You can bring your own alcoholic and zero proof beverages. Should you run out, there are always some on hand available for purchase.
GUIDED HIKES + GLACIER WALKING
Each morning after breakfast, we headed out with Sean for a full day of exploring. We ascended moraines, drank water straight from the glacier and walked on ice that was formed so long ago, I couldn't quantify its age. As a photographer who works at the intersection of recreation and climate change, I decided that for two days I would try to let go of what I knew about the future of glaciers. I revelled in the scale and beauty of what we were experiencing, but I couldn't forget that I was also documenting a landscape that may very well disappear within my lifetime.
EXTENDING YOUR STAY IN NORTH BC
To maintain our glacier mountain high, we booked in at a campground, headed for a pint and hit up the grocery store before settling into our riverside site tucked in a stand of aspens.
Campground We Stayed at:
Riverside Municipal Campground. Open May-October. Tent, Unserviced and Full Service sites available.
Grocery Stores in Smithers:
No Frills, Safeway and Nature's Pantry.
Oscar's Fly and Tackle for all things fishies.
Aquabatics, your watersport one stop shop!
Bugwood Coffee on Main Street
UFO- Ukrainian Food Awesome (amazing cinnamon buns), Inn at the Creamery for lighter fare.