Last Frontier Heliskiing is off the beaten path. Located in the remote mountains of Northern British Columbia, Last Frontier has two distinct locations; one in the frontier town of Stewart, BC, located on one of the longest fjords in the world and the other, Bell 2 Lodge, in a remote wilderness perched on the road to Alaska, deep in the Skeena and Coast Mountains.
This is where you’re going to ski for a week…epic, but getting here can be part of the journey as well.
Photo – Jun Yanagisawa
In a perfect world, every winter ski vacation would have snow falling from the sky between the hours of 4pm and 6am, then clear to bluebird skies for that picturesque moment captured in all those ski resort marketing photos. But the reality is, Nature rarely works that way. Snow storms come rolling through mountain ranges, dropping the white stuff but sometimes lingering for a tad longer than needed. This can play havoc on heliski holidays, limiting flight time and restricting terrain. The good news is that at Last Frontier Heliskiing, storm skiing is a regular occurrence and one that our guests enjoy.
No sunshine? No problem. | Photo – Dave Silver
Frequently when people book a heliskiing holiday, the focus is primarily on skiing. However, it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Today, there are many heliskiing outfits in Canada and it can be difficult for people to chose where to go. Most of them offer excellent skiing, which makes the decision even harder. Nevertheless, Last Frontier Heliskiing stands out from the rest. While the skiing is outstanding, Last Frontier Heliskiing goes beyond the skiing to provide a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. A holiday isn’t a holiday without mind-blowing cuisine. The following is a look at apres-ski and why it may be the best part of your holiday at Last Frontier Heliskiing:
A welcoming sight after a hard day’s ski | Photo – Geoff Holman
We are three weeks into the season here at Last Frontier Heliskiing and so far it’s been a great start. Our base, measured at 1000m in elevation, sits at 155cm. Our guides have been taking our guests all over our heliski area in the last three weeks, constantly on the search for good snow. This January, we’ve had some great tree skiing, lapped some big, wide open alpine bowls and had some all around deep days.
Cold smoke in the Alpine
Photo – Michael Brackenhofer
Taking media footage while skiing has never been easier. Smart phones, compact cameras and the ubiquity of GoPro units means there’s pretty much always someone capturing the moment. When on a heliski or cat skiing trip, sometimes there’s even a dedicated photographer with you on every run to make sure you get your chance to look good in front of the camera. But when flying smaller helis (like the five-seater A-Stars we run here at Last Frontier), often there’s only room for the pilot, guide and the guests. That means all the photos you bring home will be the ones captured by you and your friends. In order to give you the best chance of bringing home the banger shots, here’s some pointers on taking photos on a heliski trip.
Getting the shot isn’t always as hard as you think, but it requires planning | Photo – Vince Shuley
In the buzz of our hectic lives there’s an easy answer to leaving all the stress behind – tents. There is nothing simpler than setting off into the woods with a backpack and a tent. Forget the cellphone, the laptop and the social media feeds. A ten allows for other pleasures; read a book, study flowers, count snowflakes, or make conversation. In an age where so many of us use so much, it’s amazing how small a space a person really needs. Just 2.25 meters by 1.25 meters will do. The following is a story about tent life:
“Clifford” – the Big Red Tent has taken me to amazing sights | Photo – Liam Harrap
There are a few great pleasures in life. Having a tarry black espresso, Beef Wellington, an old world Pinot, waist deep snow, a really good book and getting a massage after a day of skiing. That last one has to be one of the best. Nothing compares to the bliss of laying down for a massage at the end of a day of leg burning laps on your skis or snowboard, especially when those laps are out of a helicopter.
Photo – Greg Foster
Congratulations! You made it to 2017. Now that we’ve all loosened our belts a couple of notches from indulging over the holidays, it’s time to start thinking about what our big plans are for this year. And I’m not talking about losing weight, running a Tough Mudder course or achieving some level of personal financial stability. Instead, let’s look at your skier’s new year’s resolutions.
A New Year brings new challenges and rewards ahead| Photo – Ashley Barker
Although the season has just started, it’s been epic so far. Skiing in December is always a special time of the year as it’s quiet and cold. However, in many ways it’s the most exciting time of the year. Runs are skied for the first time of the season and it usually snows. A lot. The light is magical as the sun doesn’t rise high into the sky, resulting in breathtaking pinks, yellows, and oranges. Here is an update of the current conditions at Bell 2 Lodge at Last Frontier Heliskiing:
Ready to get lifted above the clouds? Come aboard.
Photo – Cliff Umpleby
Every time we go into the backcountry we face some form of risk. Managing our own personal risk is one thing, however, (notwithstanding being with a certified ski guide) managing your own personal risk in a group is where things can get tricky. The last ten years have seen a massive increase in the amount of people heading into mountainous wilderness. Parks Canada, which instituted a winter park use permit for backcountry skiers in 1995, saw 124 percent increase from 2009-2012 in permit requests. In Canada alone, 7000 new people every year sign up to take basic avalanche courses. New avalanche safety equipment, education and reporting have all contributed to this uptick in skier traffic behind the boundary. With that increase has come an increase in avalanche incidents. And while there is a mountain of information and data about how snow moves, works and becomes something that can kill a skier, researchers are seeing that presenting users with the right information is only half the battle in managing risk.
Getting this requires managing risk.
Photo – Reuben Krabbe
The alarm chimes on my phone, but the duvet counters with reassuring comfort. I take a deep breath and remember the reason for the ridiculously early start. I clamor out of bed and into my thermals. Pouring coffee into my travel mug, my phone chimes again, this time a text message from my touring partner.
Loading gear into my car, I pray that it starts in -17 C.
Sleep feels good. But a moonlit dawn patrol feels better | Photo – Vince Shuley
Christmas isn’t meant to be spent indoors. As with all holidays, it’s meant to be an adventure. The following is a Christmas spent in the mountains of Canada by a staff member at Last Frontier Heliskiing.
Holidays should be spent among snow, friends, and mountains | Photo – Liam Harrap
NEW: PRE-SEASON SETUP
Guide Training Recap
From Dec 10 until Dec 16, 19 guides, 5 pilots and 4 engineers, 6 chefs, and a whole host of support staff participated in our annual pre-season training. It an important time where skills are refreshed and new techniques are practiced. The guiding team spent a few days in the mountains to assess snow conditions and staged several mock rescue scenarios. As we have dropped from groups of five to four, we have some fresh faces on the team, as well as a full roster of lead guides that have been with us for a long time.
We are well into our first week of operations here at Last Frontier Heliskiing and things look very promising this year. With a solid base of 200cm at 1500m and over 60cm of snow that’s fallen since Friday, our current weather pattern is making for a fun ski week, full of deep turns and faceshots (more on current conditions and weather here).
Lifting off for another season in paradise.
Photo – Aurelien Sudan