Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1928 as Canadas first Rocky Mountain ski lodge, the Mount Assiniboine Lodge remains a back-to-basics rustic retreat, with 12-volt electricity and wood- and coal-stove heating. The Assiniboine area offers cross-country skiing, ski touring, and snowshoeing. Beginning Nordics stride along ungroomed trails through open larch forests, then across to Cerulean and Sunburst lakes a couple of miles from the lodge. Intermediate skiers head for Nublet, below Nub Peak. Touring skiers outfitted with avalanche transceivers skin to the top of 9,300-foot Ellys Dome.
As a backcountry lodge, its either ski-in or fly-in. A spectacular eight-minute helicopter ride from the Mount Shark Helipad 25 miles south of Canmore, Alberta, is one way to get to this lodge in a roadless provincial park abutting Banff National Park. The other way: a 16-mile uphill ski from Mount Shark. Let s go with the chopper: After threading forested valleys, skimming ridges, and cresting the Continental Divide, it zooms down toward the north face of the lodges 11,870-foot namesake, the Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies, to deposit guests beside a cluster of red-roofed log buildings near frozen Lake Magog.
The kitchen and dining room are in the original steeply pitched one-story log building. An adjoining building contains a first-floor living room and six second-floor rooms. On a bluff above the lake, six single-room log cabins sleep two to six. Dinners are served family style. Round-trip helicopter flights are $135.