Always a treat in summer, this area offers an equally delightful wintertime experience. The pristine meadows filled with meandering streams, lakes and wild flowers in the summer are transformed into a winter wonderland when the snow starts falling. A ski trip in to the Wendy Thompson Hut is a long but possible day trip, particularly in early spring when the days are a little bit longer. The hardest part is turning around and going home, so plan on spending the night in the well-appointed, comfortable hut. (The hut was built and is maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada Whistler Branch. Don't be a deadbeat freeloader. Pay the very modest per night fee.)
Access is easy provided that the Duffy Lake Road is clear. Simply park on the North side of the road 400m past the Cayoosh Creek Bridge. From here, make your way in to the Cayoosh Creek FSR. The road wasn't obvious when I was there, due to snow ploughing, but it isn't hard to find. Just head in through the trees. When you get to the ACC sign, you know you're on the right track.
The winter trail breaks off from the summer trail upon entering the forested area, taking a higher route which crosses over the Mt. Rhor trail on its way to the first meadow. The trail climbs steadily, easing off as you approach the first meadow. Do not count on there being a trail. Route finding skills are required. If you can find your way to the first meadow though, it’s pretty straightforward from there. The first meadow makes a great lunch stop and there is good skiing to be had on the Western slopes although I did not partake myself. We had hooked up with 3 guys from the ACC who gave us the 411 on the area.
Head towards the end of the meadow where you will begin to gain elevation again. Before long, you will come to the lake. After skiing up hill all morning it feels good to stretch your legs as your skis glide across the snow on the surface of the lake.
After the lake, you climb steadily through the trees for what feels like forever but probably wasn't more than 45 minutes until the hut comes into sight. The hut makes a great base camp for exploring the surrounding area. The ACC guys spent 2 nights in the hut so they could ski the surrounding slopes.
You don't have to be an expert backcountry skier to have fun in this area. It is a strenuous day trip but does not require any technical skills. Anyone who is an average skier could manage this trip.
There is GPS data attached to this trail (see "download GPS"), which if loaded into your GPS can help you find route points.
Drive 33 km from Pemberton, past Joffre Lakes, & over the Cayoosh Creek bridge. 400m past the bridge you'll see a big metal shed (I think they store snow clearing equipment in there). Park on the other side of the road and ski in from there.
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Posted By: kgrain
- Mon Nov 14 10:02:10 UTC 2016
UpsideStunning scenery even in crummy weather. The hut is beautiful and well stocked with dishes and convenience items (and even a Coleman stove if you have your own fuel). DownsideShoulder season is NOT a good time for this hike unless traversing that boulder field/slope along the side of the lake is your idea of a good time (it added on about 2 hours to the ACC estimated time) :P We were cutting new trail across the boulders and falling through into crevices frequently. Would love to return and do this once the lake has frozen over. CommentWe just returned from this hike/snowshoe last night and were pretty shocked at how different the conditions were than described in all of the research we did. If you do this one during shoulder season (aka any time when the lake is not yet frozen, BEWARE - the boulder field along the side of the lake will make this a significantly longer trip. The ACC website says 2-3 hours but our group (in addition to four other groups that we met over 2 days) were put in precarious position by planning for a much shorter hike / snowshoe than it was. Our group and one other ran out of daylight long before making it to the hut (we planned for 4.5 hours at the most) and were snowshoeing pretty technical terrain (the boulder field/slope and beyond) by headlamp and moonlight. Not the best scenario when we were post-holing through and requiring the team's assistance to get us out of the boulder crevices. We were prepared so it wasn't a huge deal, but daylight would have been preferable.
Again, it's a beautiful snowshoe/hike in, but make sure you give yourself more like 6 hours of daylight in case the lake isn't firm enough to safely traverse.
As of Nov. 13, there was a LOT of water and most of the trail before the large river crossing is all under about 3-6 inches of water. The river crossing about 1-2 hours in is much wider/faster than usual but there are some sturdy logs and a guide rope to help you over. We put on our snowshoes after the river as the terrain becomes more snowy than muddy at that point.
(PS - we ran into 2 groups who had to turn around because they didn't have snowshoes...you will definitely need them!)
Posted By: cwsnoek
- Sun Jan 20 23:05:55 UTC 2013
QuestionCan anyone tell me what the road to hut elevation gain is? The scale on the map is hard to read - feet or metres?
Thanks!!ANSWERS are in this forum: Wendy Thompson hut
Posted By: iwhitehe
- Sat Mar 28 07:17:39 UTC 2009
UpsideThis route is beautiful and worth every kilometre! But you have to wait until you find your way through the forest first. DownsideRoute markings become extremely sparse once you break out into the first basin. CommentI actually stumbled on this route when looking for another cabin. I was not disappointed with the trail as i had a sunny day with fresh snow and no wind! My biggest recommendation is that you have a detailed map with cabin location because once you break out into the basin there are no indications to the location of the cabin. so do you homework first! This route took me 4 hours of hard snowshoeing with minimal stops other than some pictures and a few 5 minute snack stops, but i only went to the lake which is about 1-1.5km (one way) short of the cabin.
Posted By: vpigeon
- Wed May 21 05:23:59 UTC 2008
UpsideExcellent day or overnight hike, with very rewarding views of surrounding mountains and the valley once you get to the Basin (approx 5 kms from the road) DownsideQuite a bit of slogging through forest with no views. CommentSnow right from the highway on Sat May 17, 2008, so snowshoed from the get-go. This of course adds approx 2 kms to the hike, but it's flat and easy.
Snow got quite wet and heavy by early afternoon, so last 2 km on open trail was tough as the snow was very heavy.
Saw bear and coyote(?) tracks along the road portion (still covered with snow), but no animals, just tracks.
There seems to be 2 trails in starting approx 1 km from the road, for approx 2 kms. Wanted to go up 1 way, and back the other. Went the southern route, which is well marked and has a sign approx 2 kms from the road indicating this is the trailhead for the Wendy Thompson trail, but could not find the other trail back. Will have to go the northern route next time to try to find the other route back, for variety.
Made it to the Basin only for a day trip. Hope to make it to the Wendy Thompson hut in the summer or possibly for an overnighter next winter.
Posted By: mountaingirl
- Fri May 09 20:03:02 UTC 2003
UpsideEasy access, spectacular views, uncrowded. DownsideLong drive for a day trip. CommentPersonal trip report, more photos & video on my web site. http://www.mountaingirl.net