Visiting the Journeyman Lodge felt like visiting a good friend with a house that just happened to be nestled in the snowy mountains of the Callaghan Valley where we could ski right from the front door. This is a place where you are not just a customer, you are a guest in their home and are warmly invited by the hosts to enjoy the space as your own. A beautiful place to enjoy the backcountry without having to give up the little comforts like indoor plumbing and a warm place to sleep.
The Tailor-Made 3 Day Ski Touring Escape was the perfect option for us. It included a shuttle to the lodge Sunday morning, 3 hearty meals a day including evening après, a comfortable warm room to stay in for 2 nights and endless skiing terrain. Here are some of the highlights from our stay:
From the time we set foot at the base office we were welcomed with smiles by everyone. The lodge,built and run by Brad Sills, manager for Whistler Search and Rescue and long time lover of the Callaghan backcountry, came by to arrange our shuttle to the lodge. We had the chance to chat with him and caught a glimpse into the passion he has for the mountains, his love for the Callaghan valley and his desire to share this pocket of winter and summer paradise with as many people as possible. As he said “people need a connection and to value the connection to the wild.”
After our shuttle to the lodge we met the seasonal hosts – Ryan, Rebecca and Hannah. They are some of the friendliest, most inviting people and instantly make you feel at home at the lodge. Between the three of them they made sure that we were well fed, warm, having fun and kept the sauna nice and toasty every afternoon. The only thing we had to worry about was setting our alarms to get up each day to play in the snow.
Built like a big backcountry family home, that sleeps 15-24 people depending on how cozy you want to get, with bedrooms on the top 2 floors along with a living/games room and a communal dining area downstairs – you can tell this place was designed to bring people together. All of the bedrooms are private and you can choose between a room with an en-suite bathroom or a room with shared facilities down the hall.
The best thing about the accommodation is the chance to catch up with everyone at the end of a day skiing. Everyone gets together over après in the early evening to talk about their day, conditions and to get to know everyone a little better. Being completely unplugged, away from any external connections like internet, phones or tv’s, is refreshing and provides the opportunity to make some new friends and just immerse yourself in being out there.
Don’t even get me started about the wood fired sauna. Located a few minutes walk from the lodge you will find a creek side scandinavian style sauna. Fired up each day around 3:30 it is always hot and ready for you after a day out in the hills. There are fewer things better than relaxing in a sauna ,heavy with the scent of cedar, until you just can’t stand the heat any longer and go plunge yourself into the snow outside. The best way to unwind before dinner.
Made from scratch every day, tasty, well seasoned and just perfect after you have been out skiing all day. They also cater to diet restrictions, like gluten free, vegan etc, just make sure to let them know in advance.
Breakfast each day was continental style with fresh coffee, tea and orange juice. A giant bowl of delicious granola, hard boiled eggs and probably the BEST banana chocolate chip muffins, baked by Hannah that you will ever taste. To top it all off they were still steaming from the oven each morning…it doesn’t get much better than ooey gooey melt in your mouth chocolatey muffins.
Each morning our lunch was packed and ready for pickup in a brown paper bag at reception. We always had a choice between 4 sandwiches, a cookie and a juicebox. If you decided not to head out for the day you could enjoy a soup and sandwich leisurely at the lodge by the fireplace.
Après began every evening at 5:30 in the communal living room. Listening to the crackle of the fireplace as we munched away on a platter of delicious eats, everyone was relaxed post sauna, hungry from a day spent playing in the snow and full of stories to tell.
Dinner, cooked by Rebecca, was served family style at a long table in the dining room. The room was softly lit to keep the atmosphere rustic and to help you feel as relaxed and welcome as possible. Each night we enjoyed 4 courses of varied dishes that included soup, salad, a main and dessert. One of our favourite dinners over the course of 2 nights was an amazing salmon steak served with mushroom risotto. To be able to have such fine food prepared in such a remote setting is pretty fantastic.
Within 30 minutes from stepping foot out of the lodge you can be swishing down beautiful treed slopes or within 2.5 hours you can be up in a remote bowl that feels like you have entered a mountain range hundreds of miles away from civilization. There is endless terrain to explore.
From intermediate to extremely advanced, there is something for every type of skier. Whether you are looking for moderate tree skiing, big open lines through a bowl or technical couloir descents; depending on conditions and group fitness you will never be without a possible option.
We had an amazing day checking out the Solitude Glacier which is an approx 2 hour easy pace skin from the lodge. It is aptly named as we didn’t see another person all day and as we climbed higher and higher into the bowl we really got to experience the big mountain feel.
Located in the Coastal snowbelt the Callaghan area is notorious for receiving copious amounts of snow with mild temps. So be prepared for a mixture of stormy snow days that are perfect for pillowy tree skiing and some bluebird days that let you hit the higher slopes for fresh untracked powder.
When you get up to the lodge make sure to ask to take a look at the “Bible”. It is a comprehensive list of the backcountry zones surrounding the lodge, with pics and details of routes compiled by the owner Brad, who knows the area inside out.
What They Offer
The Journeyman Lodge offers something for everyone. There is kilometre upon kilometre of groomed trails for x-country or skate skiers, including the 14 km (8.6 miles) trail from the base to the lodge. Whether you are a snowshoer, nordic skier, backcountry skier or simply want to get away from it all in a snowy paradise then you should probably book a night or two at the Journeyman Lodge.
We can personally recommend the Tailor-Made 3 Day Ski Touring Escape to really get away from it all and to thoroughly immerse yourself in everything they offer at the Journeyman Lodge.
When to Go
December to April is the winter season at the Journeyman Lodge and the lodge is open Fri-Mon during this time. If you love playing in the snow as much as we do and need a place to unplug and reconnect with the natural world, while still enjoying the creature comforts, take a look at the packages they offer to find one that suits you best.
Journeyman Lodge: Packages and Rates
Getting to Journeyman Lodge: Directions
The best thing about the Journeyman Lodge is of course the incredible skiing terrain and the total feeling of disconnect you get when you arrive. You enter another world up there – a world that consists of untracked powder, incredible food and not a worry in the world except for where to explore next.