January 15, 2015
ski cabin proposed in Miette Pass
Two local skiers have approached Parks Canada with a proposal to build a winter-use cabin in the northwest region of Jasper National Park.
Dana Ruddy and Sean Elliott’s concept would establish a club-based hut near Rink Lake, making accessible the untapped ski potential of the Continental Divide and Miette Pass areas.
“This could be a new, exciting destination for people in the ski community,” Ruddy said.
The pair’s letter to Supt. Greg Fenton details their familiarization with the terrain, the generous snowpack and the 10 km ski approach to the proposed cabin site. They hope to model the concept on the Maligne Lake Ski Club’s Shangrila cabin, sustaining the structure with membership fees and cabin rentals.
Initial building costs would be borne by a non-for-profit group which would operate the cabin’s use, the pair suggested.
“We want to put it out there, to gauge support,” Elliott said. “We think a club could be not just for the sake of a cabin but more like an advocacy group.”
In February of 2013, Jasper National Park officials hosted public workshops which, along with advancing biologists’ recommendations to limit winter recreational access in the name of caribou conservation, asked users to put forward new recreation areas in Jasper’s wilderness. The Miette Pass area comprises Ruddy and Elliott’s answer to that query.
“[But] it’s far enough back there that it’s not a day hit,” Elliot said. “It’s really great ski terrain but only the most hardy people are going to hoof it up there and winter camp.”
The proposed cabin, accessed via the Yellowhead Mountain Trail and sitting at 1,970 m in the Miette River drainage, would eliminate the need to haul in camping and cooking supplies.
“Access to everything is safe,” Elliott said. “Miette has been recognized as great skiing by local wardens for years.”
The born-and-raised Jasperites have taken several exploration ski tours through the area, but they’re not the first to recognize the area’s winter potential. British mountaineer, photographer and member of the famed Lovat Scouts, Frank Smythe, wrote of the area as a “ski-land of exceptional interest and beauty” in his book Rocky Mountains.
“When this district becomes known, it will undoubtedly rank among the better skiing areas in the Rockies, for it is possible to ski for miles across country over a terrain as safe as it is beautiful,” Smythe wrote in 1948.
Elliott, who happened upon the book in a dusty shop in Kaslo, and Ruddy, whose great-grandfather, outfitter Jack Hargreaves, is featured in the publication, hope that the visions of Jasper ski pioneers will merge with the progressive movement of modern-day winter touring.
“It’s just the beginning,” Ruddy said. “Who knows what it could become.”