A Whistler Journeyman Lodge adventure with evoTrip and Arc’teryx.
Article sponsored by evo.
Words :: Feet Banks.
Whistler is known around the world for its big mountains, deep snow and a non-stop party. Which is awesome, but it also means upwards of 1.35 million people show up every winter to partake in all the fun. And while there’s plenty of good times to go around, sometimes it’s nice to step off the hype train and enjoy the other side of Whistler—the quiet, untracked, off-grid backcountry wilderness side.
Built in 1980 deep in the Callaghan Valley (15 minutes south of Whistler), Journeyman Lodge is Whistler’s quiet little secret—a wintery oasis of powder (average snowfall 6.2 metres/20 feet), wilderness, and peace and quiet. Completely off-grid, the lodge has capacity to sleep 24 people (15 singles) in a traditional alpine backcountry setting that includes a fireside game room, gourmet meals, a Scandinavian sauna (with a cold-plunge creek) and perfectly varied ski and splitboard terrain in an established non-motorized slice of Coastal Mountain paradise.
“And it snows more up there,” says Sandy Ward, an Arc’teryx ambassador snowboarder from the local Lil’wat nation. “All those snowstorms Whistler gets hit the Callaghan first. Last time I was at Journeyman Lodge, the ski hill had 30 centimetres (12 inches) and we had almost 60 (2 feet).”
On April 9–12, 2024, Ward is hosting an all-women, all-levels backcountry adventure with evoTrip and Arc’teryx. Created for ski-tourers or splitboarders of any skill level, the 4-day trip is all about earning your turns and enjoying the mountains in a supportive, inclusive environment.
“Having the opportunity to go out there all together as women is amazing,” Sandy says. “There is so much potential for women to speak their voice in the industry and in the backcountry but many often don’t feel comfortable speaking out in a male dominated space. Up here, we can open it up for everyone to speak their mind and enjoy.”
A snowboard professional for over two decades, Sandy Ward is the Backcountry Mentorship Team Lead of Indigenous Women Outdoors and was the first person from the Lil’wat Nation to snowboard the famed (and steep) slopes of Mount Currie, the mountain that rises directly above her home community. In 2022, she took two young Lil’wat skiers up the mountain for the first Indigenous ski descent, captured in the film Slides on the Mountain, and she says she’s excited to share that same love of being in the alpine with a new group of women.
“Journeyman Lodge is the perfect spot for these trips,” Sandy says. “The terrain is amazing and super accessible right from the lodge. The cooking is amazing, and it’s such a beautiful spot to meet people and get outside. Growing up here, I know how important it is to access the Land that’s around us. It is very healing in every aspect of your life.”
But the ladies don’t get all the fun. On April 2-5, 2024, Julia Niles hosts the same Journeyman Lodge adventure open to ski tourers and splitboarders of any gender. With 20 years of guiding under her belt, Julia is one of the first female mountain guides to attain the US IFMGA qualification. She’s also certified by the Canadian ACMG and is the first woman to solo Colorado’s fabled Grand Traverse point-to-point ski race (40 miles long climbing over 6800 feet) in a day.
“The mountains have always been a huge source of resilience,” Julia said in a 2021 interview for the Arc’teryx blog. “There’s something distilling about exercising in nature. Part of it is the exercise, some of it is the hardship. People face a lot of fears in the mountains, have to be talked through steep sections. It can be very cathartic. And then, you’re trudging along, just walking next to a person, and a lot flushes out. Lightness and banter and deeper stuff too. To be honest, a lot of my guiding missions and expeditions throughout the years have felt like therapy.”
The opportunity to progress one’s skills in a safe and supportive space is an amazing opportunity for any skier or snowboarder. To do it amongst acres of untracked Coast Mountain wilderness with a full-service lodge more than 13 kilometres (8 miles) from the nearest road is unparalleled. And when your guides are among the best in the world, it’s about as good as shredding gets.
(Did we mention that all attendees receive a free Arc’teryx Jacket…?)