Can also personally recommend Golden Alpine Holidays. We did our annual backcountry ski trip with them last year and had such a great time we signed up immediately to go with them again this year. We opted for the "guided" option and will do so again this year (and we're psyched to have the same guide as last year too!) We were only at one lodge last year (Vista), which was a nice size for our group (6, plus guide). I believe 12 people is the max for that lodge. This year we'll be starting at a different lodge and doing a traverse to Vista halfway through the week, so we'll see some new terrain as well as some familiar from last year.

I can't say enough good things about GAH in terms of how efficiently they run their operation and how wonderfully helpful & friendly they are to deal with.

Also have a friend who went on a trip w/ Sorceror Lake Lodge last year and had a really great experience w/ them as well. (I believe this is the lodge run by the sister of one of the owners of GAH, so the ability to run a great backcountry lodge must run in the family!)

We have a fair amount of experience with GAH - none with the others so I can't compare, but I can tell you what I like/dislike about GAH.

Their system consists of three huts, each with its own characteristices (terrain, vistas, etc). During a typical week groups often switch huts which gives them a chance to see new terrain, but you loose a day of skiing (you are humping loads between huts). If you are planning to do this, it is wise to pack accordingly (ie. send a bag with the extra beer to the second hut in the helicopter). Actually, to say that you loose a day of skiing is not quite true, typically you throw your packs down and do some yo-yoing while on route.

The guides and staff are wonderful people and we've become good friends with several of them. I can guarentee that they can find good skiing for everyone in your group.

The terrain around each hut offers a lot of options - open bowls and ridges if the weather is good and tree skiing if its stormy. There are no glaciers so there is no roped skiing - but avalanches are a real possiblity. There is a little "touring" (rolling kick and glide type skiing) but its mostly skin up and ski down.

Wood fired sauna and propane lights make for nice hut life. I would opt for the full guided trip with food and cook furnished - after a hard day of skiing its so much nicer to relax with a beer and sauna while someone else cooks (been on both sides of that one).

We have been there in december (over new years eve, actually) and had lots of pow but pretty short days, and march (good pow and corn and looonnng days), late february is my preference.

There is another business associated with GAH (interesting family story here) that has a single hut at Iconoclast Peak (love that name). It is almost totaly glacier skiing above tree line (i don't know what you would do on a stormy day), almost no "touring" (you want to be either a good tele or AT skier). We had and incredible week there in late season a couple of years ago.

We have also gone on these trips with a our own group (we all know each other and each others skiing abilities) which is nice, but we have also done fill in trips (where my wife and I didn't know anyone else). That can be a little funky if you show up with T boots and fat powder skis and the guy from nebraska has no wax touring skis and bamboo poles. Usually by the end of the week everyone is naked in the sauna together anyway. Also the guides are pretty good at finding terrain for everyone but it is nice to have everyone keen for the same thing.

I have taken trips the past 2 years with Golden Alpine Holidays. They have 3 huts, and you can arrange to ski between them or stay put in one of them. The first year, we spent half a week in one hut and then traversed to another hut for the other half a week. This past year, we stayed put in one lodge (the third one that we hadn't previously visited). There is enough terrain around one hut to keep you busy for a week, so I would recommend that route. The 2-hut trip was still loads of fun, but we spent the better part of a day on the traverse when we could have been making turns.

I've had fun will all of the guides that we have dealt with at GAH. Allison, who runs the show, is a very nice person. A pleasure to do business with as well as ski with. And all of the guides also were good cooks. I through a small wrench at them, since I'm vegetarian, but they handled things very nicely, and even whipped me up some tasty special meals on some nights (like the turkey dinner night). Overall, the food is very good, and there is plenty of it. Any you can pack in beer or alcohol (er, I mean it gets flown in by helicopter. You don't carry it). They don't want glass, though. So cans or a keg.

The terrain is varried. There is some moderate stuff which is out of this world (such as on Paradise Ridge). Every time we treked in that direction the snow was velvet ego snow and the slope was just enough but not too much. Then there is the steeper stuff, and the stuff even steeper than that. Once your guide determines how well you can ski, and you establish a bit of a repore, you can ski stuff as steep as you can handle. It is a group setting, however, and the guides are responsible. There are usually 2 guides for 10 customers, and they often split into 2 groups. So as long as there are a few other people on the trip who ski at your ability, you will have fun.

The bottom line is that I would go back again and take another trip with them.