Overnight Backcountry Sledder Cabin in Little Sand Creek
Words and Video by Colin Wallace. Photos by Patrick Garbutt.
Little Sand Creek in the Lizard Range near Jaffray, BC has seen many different user groups over the years but one thing there has always remained constant: epic deep snow.
So epic deep in fact that the Lizard Range has its own avalanche report. To say that the incredible views from the ridgetops are breathtaking is an understatement. The only thing better is the number of steep ‘n’ deep treed descents that are virtually everywhere in Little Sand Creek.
A previous life as a catskiing operation makes Sand Creek some of the best tree riding in BC; the glading that was done to accommodate skiers and snowboarders left just enough room to pick a line up or down through the mature pine. Lots of different slope angles make this the perfect terrain to accommodate beginners or test the most technical riders. A little exploring through this zone reveals pillows and cliffs hidden in the trees to drop or wheelie off. The roads that weave through Sand Creek offer up some fun terrain to jib; and with a little shoveling, road gaps and tech jumps that force you to split the uprights between trees on the landing.
When the sun is shining and the visibility is good, Sand Creek is an incredible place to explore with a few passes hidden in the trees that can be easily climbed to open up more terrain. Along with the incredible riding, the 360 degree views from the ridgetops are second to none, with the Bull River Valley to the north, Kimberley and Cranbrook to the west, Lake Koocanusa to the south and the Lizard range to the east.
When the Mountain Sledder crew was in Sand Creek, we measured almost 3 meters of snow at 2200m; that was at the end of January. Still lots of winter left! All the frequent snowfall means that bluebird days are not as frequent as in other areas, however there isn’t much alpine anyways and the trees are perfect for giving the snow some depth and definition. There aren’t wide open alpine bowls to ride but don’t let the trees lower your avalanche spidey senses, there are many hidden dangers above the trees that can be remote triggered, and the banks along the roads are steep and cause for concern. On the way in there are also a number of slide paths that frequently come down and cover the road from both sides of the valley. Always check weather and avalanche conditions.
Built in the summer of 2012, the Grizzly Basin Outfitters cabin is an incredible way to stay and play in Little Sand Creek. The firewood splitting delete kit from the propane furnace is a nice touch and keeps the cabin toasty all day while you ride without having to stoke the fire or carry wood around.
All you will need to bring is food and your sleeping bag as the cabin is fully stocked with fridge, stove/oven, cots with mattresses and even a couple double beds.
The kitchen is downstairs and all the sleeping is done upstairs in the loft so the early risers and first to bed won’t be disturbed.
The tree-house outhouse wraps up the backcountry experience but be sure to bring your own TP because the Mountain Sledder magazines in the cabin are too glossy and don’t make a very good substitute.
We couldn’t have asked for better hosts, better terrain or deeper snow. Little Sand Creek and Grizzly Basin Outfitters come highly recommended.
Here’s a short edit from our stay at the LIttle Sand Cabin:
For directions, terrain photos, and more comprehensive descriptions of terrain pick up a copy of the Mountain Sledder Ride Guidebook to the Columbia valley including Sand Creek. Get it here: http://sleddermag.com/rideguide/
For more info and reservations go to http://cabinrentals.grizzlybasin.com/Grizzly_Basin_Mountain_Cabin_Rentals/Little_Sand_Cabin.html
Grizzly Basin Outfitters
(250) 417-6696 or (250) 429-3943