Bell 2 midwinter. We’ll do the shovelling. Photo – Andrew Doran
Making the choice to book a heliski trip is a big decision. It’s a little bit more of a commitment than going skiing at your local mountain. First, you have to choose an operator. But if you decide to come to Last Frontier Heliskiing, we offer another choice: Should I book my trip to Bell 2 Lodge or Ripley Creek? You see, Last Frontier operates out of two distinct locations. And trust me, it’s a tough choice. Each location has its own special vibe and character and each offers a unique experience.
On the road to Stewart, BC for a week of spring heliskiing…
Photo – D’Arcy McLeish
- a journey or expedition, for hunting, exploration, or investigation, especially in eastern Africa.
- any long or adventurous journey or expedition
The very word “safari” conjures up images of pompous colonial aristocrats in khaki suits and pith helmets. But in contemporary times it’s more associated with adventure, when animals are shot by cameras are (more often than not) than hunting rifles.
Van Pelt knew he brought the wrong suitcase for his heli ski safari | Photo galleryhip.com
There’s an obvious answer to the question of when is the best time of year to go heliskiing: whenever you can. If you’ve only got one shot, however, timing is everything and, in the absence of a crystal ball, choosing a week for your trip of a lifetime can feel like a pretty big gamble. While we can’t predict the future any more than the next heliski company, we do have a few tips and suggestions to help define the best window of opportunity.
Jackpot! | Photo: Reuben Krabbe
Choosing a heliski operator can be a little overwhelming. Heliskiing is a big investment and the hope is that when you book a trip, you’re booking the trip of a lifetime. Living in a ski town, I often hear stories of no-fly days, mediocre accommodations and hard earned money spent on skiing fifteen degree slopes in average snow. That doesn’t sound like heliskiing to me. So how do you choose? What are the key things to look for in an operation? Canada has a range of heliski outfits to choose from; from day trip heliskiing close to some of the major ski resorts to remote, fly-in lodges nestled deep in some of BC’s best mountain ranges.
At Last Frontier, we believe we have the right mix of terrain to keep you satisfied.
Photo – Aurelien Sudan
This is a question that’s posed all the time to heli ski operators. Actions sports movies (and the occasional Bond film) may suggest that heli skiing is only for the elite skiers of this world, but in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
People are generally looking for heli skiing because they have spent years exploring resorts, building up their skills and now look towards the horizon where long glaciated runs exist without a single track going down them. Powder – and lots of it – is what heli skiers pay good money for. Heli skiers needn’t be competitors in the Freeride World Tour.
You may be closer to heli skiing ability than you think | Photo Caton Garvie
When it comes to talking about the size of our terrain, we don’t mince words. Simply put, Last Frontier has got the largest single heli ski area on the planet. With 9,500 km² (2.2 million acres) of mountain playground at our disposal, no other backyard comes close. But, other than superlative bragging rights, what are the advantages of having such a gigantic tenure?
B. I. G. | Photo: Dave Silver
There was an article published recently on the Powder Magazine website by The Jaded Local, who is one of my favourite writers out there in the world of action sports, and it was about something he called ‘Hubristics’. In the piece, he discusses the recent revelations in the world of avalanche risk management. Heuristics, or put more simply, the human factor, is on the cutting edge of those looking at mitigating the risk of avalanches and why people get caught in slides in the backcountry.
Does an Instagram account have a place in the mountains?
Photo – Steve Rosset
Northern British Columbia is known for its remote and rugged towns and few places can match that description as well as Stewart, B.C. Located on the Alaskan border at the head of the Portland Canal, this town was built on the backs of pioneers and has retained much of its frontier history.
Like many frontier towns, Stewart seems lost in time | Photo Steve Rosset.
For half the year, our guides can be found scouting new lines, touring the alpine by helicopter and giving all the high fives around the fire at après ski. It’s not a tough day at the office by any means, but the thing about skiing for a living is that it’s entirely seasonal: if there’s no snow, there’s no work. Fortunately, our guides’ summer occupations keep them stoked year-round.
Summer happens | Photo: Ron Ledoux
Small groups skiing untracked snow in the middle of nowhere. What heliskiing was meant to be.
Photo – Caton Garvie
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? If you are going to spend the time and money to go heliskiing, it has to be epic. Good food? Absolutely. Plush accommodations in a remote, rustic lodge on the edge of civilization? For sure. Remote mountains in a rugged, untamed wilderness? Definitely. Massive snowfalls? Yep. But more than that, I see heliskiing as something intimate. Something to be experienced in a small group of adventurers all seeking the same thing: deep, untracked snow in every direction. Continue reading
With spring in the air and longer, sunny days, it’s easy to stop thinking about winter. You may be already planting seedlings in your garden, planning summer camping trips or just relaxing in the sunshine to work off a season’s worth of goggle tan. But while winter may be five months away, booking your heli ski vacation as late as September or October will mean you have slim pickings of suitable dates and flexibility.
Dream big for next winter | Photo Travis Simms
Going big is usually where it’s at. Whether we’re talking about bigger lines, bigger air, or a bigger plate of nachos, size matters. In terms of heli skiing, however, bigger isn’t always better. Compared to a standard package at many other heli ski operations in which multiple groups of up to 10 skiers and 2 guides share a helicopter, our small groups of no more than 5 guests and 1 guide per machine allow for more flexibility, more skiing/riding and more control over how, when and where your day takes you. Upgrade to one of our private heliskiing packages and you’ve got yourself a customized adventure tailored specifically to your group’s wildest dreams.
Friends who ski together, stay together | Photo: Dave Silver
This month we have a short slideshow to highlight the 2015 heliski season, photos from Red Bull’s visit to Ripley Creek, April conditions update and the latest blog stories.
Ok, so maybe this isn’t too ski related, but every spring, as the snow recedes and the dread of spring cleaning creeps into my life, I dream of having a killer garden. I dream of turning my yard into a perfectly landscaped paradise of green-thumbed goodness. I have visions of shrubs and flowers and edges and carefully cut grass and maybe even a veggie garden budding in my back yard. Notions of the 100 mile diet and living sustainably creep into my head and my motivation begins in earnest. I even start contemplating a life without bacon. So now, after the snow has melted, the sun has started to shine and my grass has decided to take performance enhancers, I ponder becoming a gardener.
Sure, a well manicured lawn and garden looks nice, but don’t be deceived, it’s a MOUNTAIN of work…
Photo – Carl Wycoff
With the heli ski season winding down the staff start looking at what their options are for the summer. Some will continue with guiding work on mountains, rivers and glaciers, others will resume their summer occupations which ranges from construction work to planting trees to fighting wildfires. But once winter returns, ski guides all head back to the mountains. With so many years poured into their training, certification and experience, skiing powder with guests as a career is a well earned reward.
A core group of returning staff helps train new recruits | Photo Jun Yanagisawa