Sahtu’s Ten Stone lodge aims to become backcountry ski paradise
A cabin nestled in the Sahtu mountains is being upgraded into a backcountry ski destination under plans set out by owner North-Wright Airways.
Ten Stone Mountain Lodge was built in 2019 and has so far served as a winter getaway or, more commonly, a summer destination for ambitious hikers and sightseers.
“But when we built the place, we always hoped it would have opportunities for skiing,” said the airline’s Susan Wright.
That hope is becoming a reality after North-Wright sent experienced backcountry skier Esker Norman and photographer Josh Ferguson to map out what the trails might look like.
“The findings were astonishing,” said Wright. “Esker said: this is sellable.”
Plans put forward by North-Wright show the existing lodge – on an otherwise deserted lake in the Mackenzie Mountains – surrounded by cross-country ski trails, areas for downhill and Telemark skiing, plus wall tents and a cedar-barrel sauna.
“We spent a year formulating a plan and now we were approved for some funding through ITI to go and purchase all of this equipment,” said Wright, referring to the NWT’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
“It will upgrade the lodge and equipment to what we need for safety.”
A team of professional skiers is now formally mapping the area to identify exactly where the best and safest skiing can take place.
North-Wright, meanwhile, has amended its tourism licence to account for the planned lodge. “There wasn’t even a box to check” for downhill skiing when the airline applied, Wright said.
“This is totally new. No one has done this before, as far as I know.”
North-Wright is targeting March 15 to April 30 each year for the lodge’s skiing season to operate, and is gearing up to sell packages for 2024. Visitors will arrive on the frozen lake by Twin Otter from Norman Wells.
“We’ve got everything to make this happen,” Wright said.
“A lot of Yellowknifers don’t even know there are mountains here, which is one of the coolest things about the territory.”
This article appears as part of a paid partnership between Cabin Radio, NWT Tourism and the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment celebrating Tourism Week 2023 in the Northwest Territories. To explore more, visit Spectacular NWT on Youtube.