We recently caught up with Phil Wickens, Director of Ski-Antarctica, a sail-to-ski operation exploring none other than the rugged wild of Antarctica and the Falkland Islands. At Last Frontier Heliskiing, we love hearing about these incredible tours and opportunities; to connect with people that share the same passion that we do. We couldn’t help but to ask Phil to tell us everything about this amazing experience that his team offers. Here’s what he said!
Sail to ski. Photo courtesy of Ski-Antarctica
Flights booked? Check. Camera charged? Yup! Snowboard boots packed as carry-on luggage, not checked baggage? Uh… wait, what? Regardless of how well traveled a rider you may be, it never hurts to make a list and check it twice. For a little shoulder season inspiration, check out our list of 10 tips for your heli boarding trip this winter.
That’s hot! Photo: Lorenz Masse
Guido Schnelzer is a modern day mountain explorer, inventor, ski madman and good humoured backcountry wizard. Guido also happens to be the ski tech for Last Frontier Heliskiing at our Ripley Creek location in Stewart, BC. When last we spoke to Guido, he was well into his ski season, bagging night laps after work in the local Stewart backcountry. Over the summer, Guido’s Ghettoworks, as he so aptly calls his little workshop of snow magic, has been hard at work.
Soon it will be winter, and all of us will back in our happy place.
Photo – Reuben Krabbe
Remember the good old days, bombing around the ski hill with a bunch of other little muppets, following the coolest-person-you-had-ever-met-ever (ski instructor) in a series of wide, slow, big, arcing S-turns? You learned so much back in those days. Now, equipment technology has changed, and a few big crashes over the years have made you more timid. But, you still love to ski more than anything, and as and adult, maybe it’s time for a brush-up. What about taking a ski lesson? Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
A coupl’a old dogs, lookin’ for some new tricks. Photo: Dave Silver
For some, winter is the season to let it all go: bring on the sweatpants and Netflix and check in with the cardiovascular system in the spring. For skiers and snowboarders, however, winter is go time. There’s no greater excitement than suiting up on opening day, an epic season ahead in which every day will probably be a powder day, you will finally nail a backflip and your YouTube channel will go viral. There is also no greater pain than the immediate burning which will inevitably spread from your feet up to your lungs as you break a sweat just getting from the gondola to the first chair on your very first run. This is the natural result of an entire summer spent car camping and drinking beer in an inflatable lounger at the lake. Luckily, we’ve got some tips on how to get in shape for ski season NOW!
Keeping up! Photo: Reuben Krabbe
Heliskiing has always been the holy grail of skiing. It’s the dream trip skiers and riders imagine every time it snows. What would it be like to have a helicopter at your beck and call with just a few friends and nothing but untracked snow as far as the eye can see? Working as a ski patroller lends itself to untracked pow on tap after every epic storm, but my own experience with heliskiing has been twofold. On one side, there’s the epic adventure we all dream of: endless lines in a remote mountain range where the snow is deep and the skis are as wide as surfboards. The other side is not so romantic. I’ve been out ski touring when a large Bell 212 helicopter lands and starts its drop off of multiple groups of eleven skiers and slopes are tracked out in minutes. A heliskiing vacation has to be something more than that.
This is it. This is what I want on a heliski trip.
Photo – Reuben Krabbe
Some might say the only way to have a successful family vacation is to not go on one. But at Last Frontier Heliskiing, we disagree. There are a few things that can keep your family together, smiling and laughing like you’ve walked right out of the pages of a Sears catalogue. One of those things – if age appropriate – is alcohol. Another is heli-skiing. Here are few tips to make your family’s trip to Last Frontier Heliskiing one for the books:
Someone’s got to bring up the rear. Photo: Dave Silver
Mountains. They’re SO BIG. This is most amazing when you happen to be at the very tip-top, ready to drop into a massive swath of untracked powder and ride the run of your life. It is not so key when you’re standing at the bottom and want/need to get back up to the top for another epic ride. In fact, it’s a bit disheartening. Unless, of course, there’s a helicopter waiting to bump you back up there in less time than it takes to empty the snow out of your chest pockets and defog your goggles. Then it’s really pretty awesome. This is heli boarding in Canada!
Ticket to ride! Photo: Gordon Eshom
In the mountain environment, we often point to athletic achievement as a form of inspiration. This athlete climbed that peak or that rider won this competition. While physical achievement can be inspiring in its own way, is it truly a measure of character? Too often in the bubble of the mountain culture, athletic achievement is celebrated over true inspiration. Sure, it takes mad skills, discipline and balls of steel to do some of the things athletes do, but that often has little do to with the depth of someone’s character. Human existence has always been defined by suffering and life occasionally deals all of us bad cards. How we overcome adversity, be it death, illness, addiction, injury, or trauma, is a true measure of character. That’s what inspires me.
There’s more to life than skiing, some say. We agree. What’s more: the skis. We don’t think that every set of skis is ideal for the conditions out here at Bell 2 lodge or Ripley Creek – your straight skis or your snow blades, for example, aren’t going to cut it out here in the deep stuff. But we do know what are the best skis to float through the powder (because we do it a lot) and we want you to share in the joy. Let us recommend some of our gear that we’ve got up here, waiting just for you.
Just a couple of guys! Photo: Dave Silver
I remember speaking to one of the more respected weather forecasters at the University of Washington and he told me that long term weather predictions always need to be taken with a grain of salt. Case in point. Since spring, skiers and riders have been raptly listening to long term forecasts stating that the 2014-15 ski season is going to an El Nino season. Will it be a drought? Epic? Wet? Warm? Cold? Blogs and freeski sites have been going off with weather predictions. Fairly critical stuff. Answering the question of whether this is going to be a good snow year can have enormous consequences. Lots of ski bums out there have decisions to make. People may be debating quitting their jobs and buying a van. All based on long term weather predictions about whether it’s going to be an El Nino year. OK. But first off, what is El Nino and what does it mean for skiers?
Typical El Nino season in North America. More Precip in California…less in the Western US and Southern BC.
Canadians love a lot of things, but they especially love active lifestyles, good beer or wine and laughing at themselves. That’s why they do heli-skiing vacations so well, because heli-skiing vacations consist of those things. But there are a few more reasons why heli-skiing is awesome in Canada, and they’re not just about the beer.
Like a little bit of this! Photo: Steve Rosset
Grandmothers always say, “you want to know what you’re getting for your money, honey.” That’s why we at Last Frontier Heliskiing want to make it simple for you to know exactly what you’re getting for yours. Heli skiing isn’t cheap, we know, but this might be the one exception to the rule that “money can’t buy you happiness.” Because in this case, for 4, 5 or 7 days, money can buy you happiness. So what’s it going to cost?
Happiness looks like THIS! Photo: Dave Silver
Our maintenance manager at Bell 2, Ron Ledoux, sent us the photos throughout this post of his summer so far at Bell 2. Enjoy.
Photo – Ron Ledoux
Summers in Northern British Columbia are beautiful. Long days under a warm sun in some of the most beautiful and rugged landscapes in the world. At Bell 2 Lodge, things don’t stop once the snow melts. Last Frontier Heliskiing runs a year round operation at Bell 2 Lodge. Continue reading
Catching first chair. Is there anything better? Even if it’s not a powder day, there’s something to be said for being up there first. Getting off the lift with an entire ski area of untracked snow just waiting to be skied, is one of the great pleasures of being a skier. But at every mountain, catching first chair isn’t always as simple as it seems. There are decisions that go into it.
Sunrise on the first chair…happy days.
Photo – D. McLeish