The Beautiful Bonington Range Ski Traverse

Superb ski terrain, quaint huts and massive views make this one of BC's finest short ski traverses

Charlie Boscoe

Images

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One final look up at the mountains before disappearing into the forests

by Charlie Boscoe

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Beautiful light on the ridge

by Charlie Boscoe

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Looking along the ridge from near the start

by Charlie Boscoe

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One of the bootpacking sections near the summit of Empire Peak

by Charlie Boscoe

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Skinning up the early section of the ridge

by Charlie Boscoe

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On the rattle-y journey down the snowmobile track

by Charlie Boscoe

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On the ski down towards the final climb

by Charlie Boscoe

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In the small but characterful Copper Hut

by Charlie Boscoe

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The Copper Hut

by Charlie Boscoe

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Skinning up to the ridgeline

by Charlie Boscoe

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Skinning up to the final col in the last rays of daylight

by Charlie Boscoe

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The inside of the Steed Hut

by Charlie Boscoe

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The Steed Hut

by Charlie Boscoe

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Great skiing in the trees

by Charlie Boscoe

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Skinning up towards the col overlooking Glade Creek

by Charlie Boscoe

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Skinning up the sled track

by Charlie Boscoe

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The fabulous Grassy Hut

by Charlie Boscoe

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Skinning just before the descent to the hut

by Charlie Boscoe

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Description

In recent years the traverse of the Bonington range has become one of the most popular ski trips in BC, and it's easy to see why. The area is easily accessed from the various towns of the Kootenays and is short enough to be done in a long weekend. The fact that the skiing is excellent (not always the case on ski traverses!) only adds to the appeal, as do the traditional little huts which house you on the journey.

The huts (of which there are 3) can be booked via the Kootenay Mountaineering Club (https://kootenaymountaineeringclub.ca/huts/) and must be reserved in advance. The official line is that the huts sleep up to 6 people, but we found that 4 felt like a squeeze so we'd recommend keeping your group size to a maximum of 4 unless you don't mind spooning your fellow ski tourers! The huts are basic but comfortable, and all have a log burning stove (plus a supply of wood which is restocked every few years - try not to use any more than you need) and a cooker (with pans) which is powered by 1 lb propane bottles which you'll need to bring with you. Given the potential issues involved with using in-situ stoves, carrying a small backup stove and a gas canister or 2 is highly recommended. The huts all have flat sleeping areas but no mattresses or blankets, so you'll need to bring both with you. There are also outhouses at all of the huts but no garbage disposal facilities - pack your stuff in, and pack it out too.

The ski touring itself is, by the standards of BC, fairly straightforward, but you'll pass through potential avalanche terrain on every day except the first, so don't underestimate the need for sound route finding and navigation. The traverse of the Boningtons has a reputation for being a beginner tour but we found it a little more serious and challenging than the guidebooks make out, so show it some respect! The final day in particular will challenge ski mountains of all levels and requires sound judgement, a cool head and - ideally - a blue sky.

If the stars align and you get cold snow and clear skies, this is one of the best short ski trips in North America!

Adventures