close range baldface
Image: Dan Hudson

BALDFACE LODGE

Nelson, BC

THE QUEST for uncrowded alpine serenity need not preclude you from living in high style. Case in point: Baldface Lodge, a resort comprising of six timber-frame chalets just a five-minute helicopter ride from downtown Nelson. The only development atop a secluded ridge, Baldface houses a gourmet restaurant, a bar, a cedar sauna and a cadre of on-call massage therapists—all on the edge of the expansive backcountry of the Selkirk Range.

Every winter’s day since it opened in 1999, Baldface has divided its 36 guests among three Sno-Cats and—via a network of ridgetops that stretches endlessly toward the jagged horizon—delivers them to the edges of powder-laden bowls and plunging chutes. Expert guides steer skiers away from avalanche danger and toward epic steeps that begin above the tree line and end at the bottom of the valleys. Typically, you’ll log 8 to 12 runs a day before returning to the flickering hearth, a warm pot of soup and the cozy bar, where, as with everything at Baldface, there is never a line of any kind.

Dinners of seared wild salmon, beef tenderloin or whatever else chef Mark Kohl has dreamed up sometimes are served family-style, followed by dessert, after which you can lounge on the leather sofas or indulge in an evening massage before your eyelids grow heavy with well-earned exhaustion. When the sun strikes your frost-glazed window, it’s time to pull on your silk underwear, collect your avalanche beacon and do it all again.

But don’t let the steaks and saunas fool you—a day of crashing through BC’s backcountry powder is hard work, so come with your legs primed. In fact, Baldface is perhaps the only ski resort that recommends a pretrip workout regimen on its Web site.