Outstanding backcountry skiing and granite mountaineering. Summer access is via a logging road followed by a 5-8 hour hike. Winter access is by helicopter. Class A, sleeps 20.
There is a very good reason why the ACC has held its General Mountaineering Camp in the Fairy Meadow area on four separate occasions since 1981 - the place is awesome! The Adamant Group of the Selkirk Mountains provides climbers and backcountry skiers with a wealth of fantastic opportunities.
The peaks here are mainly granitic and there are several classic routes of various lengths and difficulty to challenge all types of climbers. In winter the snow comes early and in huge quantities, allowing for a myriad of touring and ski-mountaineering possibilities that are second to none. "The Bill Putnam (Fairy Meadow) Hut is one of the great backcountry ski destinations in Canada. The snow is deep, the runs are excellent and the hut is very comfortable." (Summits and Icefields - Columbia Mountains, by Chic Scott, page 54).
Built in 1965 by the ACC as a project proposed and largely overseen by William Putnam, the hut has since seen extensive renovations which have transformed the two-storey wooden building into a deluxe backcountry destination indeed! With a complete propane system which includes an oven for baking, two very efficient woodstoves and a fully stocked cooking area, comfort is guaranteed. There is sleeping space for 20 on the second level and a spacious common room with adequate space for hanging gear. A large and very hot wood-burning sauna is an absolute treat on those clear, cold winter nights!
In summer approximately 65 km of logging road driving brings one to the beginning of the hiking trail. This road is in various stages of ruggedness and can usually be driven nearly its entire length in low-clearance non four-wheel drive vehicles. Usually. A higher-clearance vehicle and perhaps even a set of chains is recommended. This area receives significant rainfall and the road can rapidly be turned into a bit of a quagmire, particularly in the last half. A four-wheel drive vehicle virtually guarantees that you'll get there.
Once you've reached the end of the road it is a matter of hiking the spectacular Swan Creek trail through the cathedral-like rainforest of cedar and hemlock which dominates this area. The path has undergone some extensive cutting and clearing which has made it quite easy to follow. Cairns or flagging mark the tricky spots, and at a couple of points where the trail breaks through rockbands there are handlines for extra security. It isn't a Sunday stroll nor is it particularly difficult.
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