Windows on the Wild

Sentry Mountain Lodge

Apr 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

250-344-7227 >>

An all-inclusive package—round-trip heli access (from Heather Mountain Lodge, 30 miles west of Golden), daily guided excursions, all meals and nonalcoholic drinks—begins at $990 per person for a weeklong stay; three-day trips are also available. Additional heli service costs extra.

In the back of the backcountry: ski touring near Glacier National Park

YOUR JOURNAL MIGHT READ LIKE THIS: "We flew in by helicopter, dazzled by Kinbasket Lake, Mount Bryce, the Columbia Icefields, and high points of the Canadian Rockies. The bird dropped us at a cedar hut, on a 7,128-foot col cradled by the Selkirk Mountains. Before settling in, we explored some of the lodge's 13 square miles of alpine meadows, heather-swathed valleys, and interlaced ridges. A herd of caribou crossed our path, but otherwise we didn't see a soul. Afterward, we sipped Big Rock Ales, basked in the alpenglow rosying up the surrounding granite peaks, and waited for Venus to pop out, which would later guide us on a midnight hike." Of course, that would be just the first entry.
AT THE LODGE This just-built hideaway feels like a European-style mountain home, one that you share with only seven other guests: a red tin pitched roof, soaring vaulted ceilings, mural-size windows, a gray-pebble hearth, and handcrafted bookshelves overflowing with maps, fraying paperbacks, and the best local reads, like Chic Scott's The Story of Canadian Mountaineering. The kitchen, festooned with garlic braids and lined on one side by a pine bar, is where your hosts rustle up items like cheese fondue and coq au vin from the French-inspired menu. Each of the four airy bedrooms is outfitted with a custom-made mattress, downy duvets, and fluffy bathrobes for trekking to the sauna hut.

THE SPORTS There are countless hiking and mountaineering options, and best of all, the terrain connects effortlessly, with gentle meandering accesses to most ridge tops. One morning you might walk down a half-mile to spring-fed Tetras Lake, with its east-end waterfall, and then wrap back up through stands of subalpine fir into Secret Valley, where pine marten pop up like animatronic jack-in-the-boxes. Or follow mountain-goat tracks up a 1,200-foot climb to the crest of 8,344-foot Sentry Mountain. Come winter, the snowshoe, heli-ski, telemark, and ski-touring options are bountiful.
BACKCOUNTRY FORAY SML's guides can help fashion multiday backpacking excursions, set up heli-hiking jaunts to the celebrated glaciers of the Selkirks, or arrange a hut-to-hut itinerary. The "Esplanade Haute Route," an eight-mile south-to-north traverse over the Esplanade Range, leads to Vista Lodge, the first in Golden Alpine Holiday's chain of three rustic huts. From here carry on to Meadow and Sunrise, each an alpine scramble and a day's hike away.