This idea is for those looking to take their winter recreation beyond the wandering circuits of our core trail network. It’s a time commitment of at least 5 hrs and a challenge of endurance but the rewards are personal. Embark on the ‘Great Escape’ to Ski Callaghan’s Solitude Valley…
Consider it the scenic long haul, 13 km from the nearest road, the Solitude Valley reveals unspoiled nature, jutting peaks, alpine meadows and curious wildlife delivering a genuine escape from the everyday. Accessing this landscape requires a full day of snow-travel up either Mainline or Real-life trails. Most prefer to supplement the excursion with an overnight reservation at Journeyman Lodge. These high elevations are also awesome training ground for strong skiers and snowshoe runners to develop their endurance capacities. Day visitors are encouraged to pre-order a lunch at the Alexander Falls Touring Centre so they can look forward to the promise of welcoming food and hot drink, upon reaching the valley’s welcome station: Journeyman Lodge.
- At A Glance
- What’s up there?
- Route A
- Route B
Time Commitment: 5-8hrs, or multi-day
Interests: scenery, personal challenge, escaping the crowds, fitness
Distance: 13.5km one way, 27km return
Snow-travel Duration: 2-5 hours up, half the time coming back down
Elevation Gain: 560 metres (1,837 feet) not including gains after losses
Participants: skiers range in age from 5 to 90, with an equal male/female split, not for the faint of heart…it takes tenacity and courage!
*Start bright and early…hitting the trailhead no later than 10am
*Comparable to a mountain summit destination hike, be prepared with the appropriate attire and equipment for anything you might encounter along the way.
*You can count on burning a range of 3000-4000 depending on personal weight and travel time, so be sure to pack supplemental food and hydration for the journey.
Authentic adventure comes from the desire to shine a light into the unknown. It comes from searching out unfamiliar places and rising to unexpected challenges. The higher elevations of Ski Callaghan offer visitors a chance to discover true and amazing wilderness, but also a chance to uncover personal insights and answers they may not have even known they were looking for. The Solitude Valley greets skiers with a welcoming arrival at the doorstep of Journeyman Lodge, a full-service backcountry chalet. Here, skiers are invited to pop in and use the warming facilities in the lobby area or continue into the facility if reservations have been made. The Meadows Loop and Solitude Loop trails add on an additional 6 km, but are not to be missed. Seriously, some of the most scenic XC trails you’ve ever skied!
Mainline Trail (ski route only): The most popular route is via Mainline, Parkway, and Upper Wild Spirit groomed ski trails. For safety reasons, snowshoers are not permitted on this route. For skiers however, it features longer, but more gradual climbs and is quite open for sunshine and mountain vistas.
Mainline trail is a Blue Square rated, 8.4 km intermediate trail. It begins with an initial long climb of 3.5 km that follows the original Callaghan Forest Service Road on its way up to Callaghan Lake. The first part of the trail is the toughest with moderate terrain in the middle section and even a downhill slope to Callaghan Lake.
Along the way, skiers will enjoy amazing views of Metal Dome, Brandywine and Powder Mountains. Once you reach the lake you can continue on to the lodge via the forested Parkway trail, a Green Circle rated 1.8 km ski to the final climb of Upper Wild Spirit trail (3.2km). The return trip from the Lodge following this route affords skiers a fantastic view of Black Tusk, a volcanic spire that has become one of Whistler’s most famous landmarks.
Real Life Trail (snowshoe, ski, and luggage transfer service route): As the primary service route, this is usually the first lodge access route that opens each winter season. For those opting to snowshoe in and out of the lodge, Real Life trail, to the Wild Spirit trails is the only lodge access route. It is also preferred by those heading in on touring equipment looking to shave off the extra 1.6 kms of travel.
Real Life trail is accessed just off the first few hundred meters of Mainline trail. The first kilometre of real Life trail is blue rated because of a steep pitch that must be climbed before reaching the pleasant 3.5 kms of gently rolling terrain that soon turns into Wild Spirit trail.
The journey up the 4.1 km of Wild Spirit trail is a classic introduction to the West Coast forest ecosystem. Majestic old growth Hemlocks and Yellow Cedars tower overhead as the trail crosses over several creeks, including the fast-flowing Callaghan Creek.
Advanced and expert skiers LOVE this trail; an aggressive black diamond rating with some of North America’s steepest hills. As the trail winds its way up the valley to the lodge along the Upper Wild Spirit trail (3.2km), snow-laden trees give way to sub-alpine meadows and breathtaking mountain views.