Living in a place like Squamish, just about everyone is an athlete of some sort. This is true of a lot of other places, but especially here in BC. And why not? We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Endless mountains, lakes, rivers, and ocean coastlines. BC is one of those places where if you like to play outdoors, you have every option imaginable. Even here in Squamish, on any given summer day, I can go kite surfing, ride world class singletrack, spend my day climbing some of the best granite in the world, go mountaineering, run epic creeks in a kayak, spend the day on a stand up paddleboard…you can even ski if you’re motivated enough. The options really are endless.
Find a good bench and spend a few hours with a good book. Photo – D’Arcy McLeish
If you’ve never set foot in Canada before, you’re in for a treat. At 9.98 million square kilometres, Canada is enormous (the second largest country in the world, in fact), filled with polite folks, distinct cities and a beautiful, natural landscape that stretches across the North American continent. In order to get the most out of your visit to the Canuck Empire, here are 5 travel tips for visiting Canada.
When the bill arrives, don’t forget to add the tip. | Photo – Caton Garvie
The famed cook, Julia Child, couldn’t have said it better: “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” No one should look back in time and regret what they ate. The backcountry however, has never been revered as a place of quality cuisine. Of course, we can argue that good food is heavy. Why bring a fresh apple when a dried one will do? Yes the dried apple probably has the texture of cardboard and could in theory be older than you, nevertheless it’s still preferred as it weighs almost nothing. And what are we doing with all the weight we’re saving? Some people use it by bringing “necessities”, like iPods and solar chargers. Others go the extra couple kilometers down the trail, getting in as much “enjoyment” as they can before the Monday office meeting, as mileage determines if the trip was a success or not. Whether you enjoyed it is irrelevant.
Baking fresh scones over the fire. Yum! | Photo – Liam Harrap
Northern British Columbia has seen a bit of a renaissance in the last few years. While its history is long and steeped in frontier life, native culture and the rugged ingenuity that develops in the hard to reach places of the world, something else has been happening in the wilds of Northern BC. You see, the northern part of our province is home to some of the most pristine wilderness on earth. A half million square kilometres of glaciated peaks, raging mountain rivers, old growth forest and rugged pacific coastline. In short, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, without the crowds of the south. That’s right. There’s no line up on a powder day in the north. You have rivers to fish all by yourself. Untracked snow as far as the eye can see and loamy singletrack that meanders for miles.
The Salmon Glacier near Stewart, BC. Photo – Steve Rosset
The fall can be a trying time of year. It’s dark, it’s cold, and it rains a lot. But it’s also the time of year when anticipation and excitement is at its highest. And if there’s anything skiers and snowboarders look forward to the most, it’s early season cold powder.
Last Frontier Heliskiing guides enjoying the fruits of the early season | Photo – Aurelien Sudan
It’s weird calling summer the “off season”, but for ski bums it is. Nevertheless, there’s still some reasons for us to get up in the morning, other than just reading the morning paper. It’s important to keep the mind occupied until the ski slopes open again. Stay fit and keep the legs in good working order. If you stay inactive too long, you’ll rust. Here’s a few activities you can do in the meantime:
Winter is pretty awesome | Photo – Grant Gunderson
BC is home to some of the best to some of the best mountain biking in the world. That biking comes in many different forms, from enduro style trail riding to pure cross country riding to lift access, downhill mountain biking. Lift access riding is still something relatively new in the world. Ski resorts, long dormant during the summer months, started to see the potential, after folks decided riding bike on a trail was more fun than the road of what their chairlifts and gondolas could do in the summer. Fast forward fifteen years and BC is home to some of the best bike parks in the world.
With 37 trails to ride and everything from machine made jump trails to technical single track and some easier stuff in between, Fernie has established itself with a real following of riders. It’s still got that local’s vibe, where everyone is into the stoke and the lift lines aren’t a fashion show. The riding is awesome and outside the park are a multitude of XC trails and even some gnarly shuttles, like the famous Dirt Diggler DH trail.
My first heliskiing experience was far from glamorous, but still unforgettable. It was the 2006-2007 winter when I got the call from a Whistler local I had recently met. Good flying weather tomorrow. Stable avalanche conditions. Heli drop.
To heliski or heli drop? That is the question | Photo – Last Frontier Heliskiing
The naturalist John Muir once said, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt”. Hiking is one of the most effective ways to experience a new place. For one, it’s cheap. All you need is a pair of shoes and a sack to carry things. The speed and route is up to you. Yes, it can be painful and yes at times darn-right-unpleasant, but it can be argued that anything worth experiencing in life doesn’t come easily. In retrospect, blisters can be a small price to pay for spectacular sights, new friends, and unforgettable memories. For those of you wanting to see more of British Columbia than road-side ditches and cafes, here’s five hikes for doing so:
A car can only take you so far. Your feet go far beyond | Photo – Liam Harrap
One of the biggest misnomers in the heliskiing world is that you have to be an expert skier or rider to ski from a helicopter. Not true. That being said, skiing in a remote, backcountry area in some of the biggest mountains you’ll ever see is not for novice skiers and riders. You do need to have some ability with your chosen form of swooshing.
It’s easier than it looks, trust us. Photo – Randy Lincks
Of all the things to consider when buying a ski jacket, the single most important quality I’ve come to appreciate is durability. A jacket may look good, feel good and even perform well, but if if you can count its lifetime in years on one hand, in my opinion it’s not worth buying. Plenty of other ski jackets have come and gone, but one Gore-Tex garment remains as a stalwart benchmark in my gear closet: the Arcteryx Alpha SV.
Tired of disposable outerwear that dies after a couple seasons? Invest in an Arcteryx Alpha SV | Photo – Arcteryx.ccom
For the past couple weeks, I’ve asked myself this question a lot. What make me Canadian? I asked around and one friend simply said, “a piece of paper”. I laughed, chuckled, and rolled my eyes, thinking there must be more than that. However, after thinking for awhile and talking to more people, it became clear that Canada is very diverse. Perhaps one of the most diverse places in the world. Canada is the second largest country, has the largest coastline, and more lakes than the rest of the worlds lakes combined. Canada is BIG. With “big-ness” comes variety, each province is unique and has different values and traditions. It’s hard to nail definitive stereotypes for Canadians as a whole. When compiling a list, some are true for me, and others are not even close. Nevertheless, here’s some bits of “Canadiana” from different parts of country:
There are different ways to achieving 150 day ski seasons. You can work nights, for instance, as a cleaner or a bartender, and shred every day. Another option is to pick a job that requires you to ski. Those can work. But to truly dirtbag a season, or multiple 150 day seasons, you need to be free of the constraints of regular employment. Being unemployed gives you the freedom to rip lines every day and never be worried about showing up for work. But unless you’re independently wealthy, financing a winter devoid of work but filled with mountain pursuits on skis tends to get a little expensive. If you’re really good, sponsorship can help, but free skis don’t put food on the table so regardless, you need money, plain and simple. Which leaves only five to six months out of the year where gainful employment is a necessity. But what pays? What jobs, over the summer months, allow for big pay cheques that you can stash for the first storm of the season?
Dirtbagging in style on the Last Frontier. Photo – Bryn Hughes
If there’s one thing British Columbia has going for it, it’s the natural beauty. Vast as the entirety of Western Europe (and then some), it would take a lifetime to explore all of BC’s splendid nooks and crannies. And while we are all blessed with a single lifetime, until we’re all working five day weekends we have to pick and choose where in BC to explore. Here’s our top 5 places to visit in BC.
What more could you ask for? Whistler, BC. | Photo – Tourism Whistler
I’ve never been good at conventional sports. I don’t have an arm for throwing or a foot for kicking. Baseball becomes floppy-arm-ball, and soccer ball-kicked-in-the-face-game. While most kids are probably encouraged to be team players, my father always advised against. “Just go the other way,” he’d say, or “Make your own path. Don’t be a follower”. Team sports have always confused me, and I’ve usually just run around bewildered and pretending to be useful. It turned out that I was quite exceptional at something different – suffering. Give me sweating, gut-wrenching, back breaking, bush thrashing, groveling up steep slopes to claim some insignificant peak any old day. It’s never been easy, but for some twisted reason I enjoy it. For me, there’s few things better than an ol’ski traverse. A ski traverse is going from Point A to Point B on skis. Some are long, some are short. It could take a day, or it could take years. It just depends on how long you’re willing to go. Here’s five notable ski traverses worth trying in British Columbia/Alberta:
Skiing among the mountains. A truly golden moment | Photo – Liam Harrap