Brian Cross, or “The Bald Bomber” as he is known, is the owner/operator of Mt Carlyle Backcountry Lodge. “Bomber” (for short) has been tromping around these, and many other mountain ranges, for over 40 years. In that time he has gained a vast knowledge of the outdoors both as a prospector of minerals and as a ski bum searching for “the powder motherload.”
Brian started in the backcountry ski touring industry as a winter custodian for the British Columbia Parks board, at Kokanee Glacier Park in the early 1980s. After noticing that there were more guests than the Slocan Chief Lodge facilities in the Park could accommodate, he figured there might be an opportunity to start a lodge offering accommodations to skiers in the backcountry. He hasn’t looked back since. After 30 years of providing ski touring opportunities to many hundreds of guests, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and a reputation as one of the best service providers in the industry.
“Bomber’s” roots are firmly planted in a 70’s ski-bum mentality, he is easy going with a great smile, laugh and sense of humor. An unassuming, fun-loving guy. As a host folks find him extremely welcoming, hard-working and helpful, always willing to share his knowledge of the terrain and local lore. As a business owner, he holds integrity as paramount, his word is as good as gold. He has garnered respect from all corners of the ski industry. Best of all, “Bomber” has that uncanny instinct for finding that perfect line. He loves filling that awesome beard of his with Kootenay Powder.
How do the experiences you offer at Mount Carlyle Backcountry Lodge give guests a unique perspective on history, geography or culture of your region?
All the above, Mt Carlyle lies smack-dab in the middle of the 1890s. The mining boom-town of Sandon, now a ghost town, was the start of opening up this whole Kootenay region. Miners from Norway started the ski culture out here, the geography is full of cool, stuff that attracted prospectors and fortune-hunters. Here at Mt Carlyle we pay tribute to these first backcountry skiers (the true “gnarl” dudes), our lodge is full of old pictures, maps, and other memorabilia from those early days.
How have the backcountry experiences that you offer evolved since their inception?
Mt Carlyle was started in 1997, offering simple accommodations in an old miners bunkhouse. Since 2000 we started constructing a new 1500 square foot building accommodating up to 12 skiers. It includes a fully stocked kitchen with hot running water, stereo, big dining room, comfy living room, indoor toilet, a sweet wood fired sauna/shower, a great deck to hang and enjoy cocktails on a sunny afternoon. Solar power. Always upgrading a bit here and there … so big changes since our simple inception, EXCEPT for our vast, accessible and varied ski terrain. 36 square kilometers, which we cannot, and would not change. We have always offered trip packages ranging from self-guided/catered to guided and catered, so no changes there. We have created a solid crew of fun-loving, hard working, experienced backcountry cooks/bakers who make all foods from “scratch” right here at the lodge. Quality meals!
What is one detail of an experience you provide that may go unnoticed by guests, but which you feel is important?
The amount of work we put in behind the scenes to provide an easy going, enjoyable, and welcoming environment.
What do you wish every guest knew as they consider a ski trip to Mount Carlyle Backcountry Lodge?
Just how wonderful, enlightening, and important to our spirit, the natural environment is. Perhaps they all know this already?
What is one travel trend that really excites you?
More and more women in the backcountry. We have been designing lodge trips (and the lodge itself) to make our scene inviting to women of all ages.
What sets Mount Carlyle Backcountry Lodge apart from other, similar, lodges?
It ain’t rustic, but it ain’t 5 star either, all the comforts one really needs. One can start shredding right out the door (a 1400 foot naturally gladed treed descent right off the porch. Our crew of youngun’s and old time ski bums, who are unassuming and welcoming to all our guests. Our approach to life. How good the whole experience Mt Carlyle provides for our guests is. A week long ski trip into the remote Selkirk Mountains ain’t just about the skiing. It’s also about camaraderie, good times, saunas, good food, great accommodations, and a safe, friendly lodge environment.
What is one insiders tip to getting the most out of an experiential travel vacation?
Live in the moment! Try not to conquer or mold your experience/environment to your parameters. Go with the flow, and let the environment shape your experience.
What is one strategy that has helped your business to grow?
Sincere appreciation of our guests. We don’t fake our appreciation of folks visiting Mt Carlyle and helping to grow our business. We realize that without our guests support, we couldn’t have this mountain lifestyle. We want everyone to have an excellent, safe experience so folks go home to tell all their friends and family of the good times/experience we provide, we want folks coming back! We go to great lengths to make everyone’s experience at Mt Carlyle a “special” time. That old adage “going that extra mile.” This is our guests “home” during their stay, and we make em feel that way.
What is one personal habit that has helped you to be successful?
Sorry gotta go with 2 habits integrity, humor, and an unassuming attitude…..uh, guess that’s 3.
Please share one instance where a guest had a moving or emotional reaction to the experience you provided to them.
Helping a guest with confidence building, and dealing with vertigo. After a few days of helpful hints, encouragement, and specialized attention, we saw a marked improvement. This guest overcame this debilitating fear and “grew” and was able to expand their “horizons” as person. This was extremely rewarding for both our guest and myself. Carlyle Lodge made a new friend for life. That’s what being in the backcountry can do for folks. New experiences which enable one to become a stronger more confident person. “Yes I can do this”
Mt Carlyle Backcountry Lodge online: www.skihikebc.com
Mt Carlyle Backcountry Lodge on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Mount-Carlyle-Backcountry-Lodge
Mt Carlyle Backcountry Lodge phone number: 250-355-2269