The Waiting Time – Prepping for the Ski Season

Fall in Northern BC. Gorgeous.  Photo - Cliff Umpleby

Fall in Northern BC. Gorgeous.
Photo – Cliff Umpleby

Patience is a virtue. At least that’s what I have always been told. But this time of year is tough. Waiting for the coming ski season can be brutal. Don’t get me wrong, fall is a magical time of year in just about every part of the world. The hot summer temperatures have given way to cool, crisp temps and warm, gorgeous days. In the mountains, the loam is tacky, the rock is grippy and the conditions are ripe for every outdoor endeavour. Hikers, climbers, mountain bikers, road riders, paddlers, runners…everyone loves the fall. Continue reading

Ski and Snowboard Camber and Rocker Explained

Pick up a ski or snowboard from a shelf these days and you’ll likely be bombarded with terms such as camber, rocker and early rise. The thing is, these are all pretty much the same thing. When ski companies design a ski they have to consider important factors such as material and shape, but the character of how a ski performs also depends on its camber profile and amount of rocker.

Ideal rocker conditions. | Photo - Vince Shuley

Ideal rocker conditions. | Photo – Vince Shuley

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The Ultimate Base Layer for Hitting the Powder Slopes

The British author Alfred Wainwright once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. Dressing oneself has never been easy, whether its for a wedding, or down to the corner shop for a pickled egg. I’m 27 years old and still learning. When it comes to skiing, it can become difficult. What if it’s windy? What if Stan makes us ski in the shade for the whole darn day? What if it’s too cold to eat my meatball sandwich for lunch? What if what if. After many trips of shivering, over-heating, and being outright miserable, I finally have some suggestions to make the whole skiing experience a delight.

| Photo - Ales Fevzer

It’s important to dress properly for skiing, you just never know where your skis are going to take you on the slopes  | Photo – Ales Fevzer

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Smithers – An Epic Pit Stop On The Way To Last Frontier Heliskiing

Named one of North America’s best secret ski towns by National Geographic, Smithers sits on the Bulkley River in one of the most pristine areas of Northern BC. Located along the famous Yellowhead Highway Route 16, halfway between Prince George and Prince Rupert, it’s fast becoming one of the coolest little adventure towns in BC.

Downtown becoming one of BC's best mountain towns.

Downtown Smithers…fast becoming one of BC’s best mountain towns.
Photo – Tourism Smithers

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La Niña Lite en route to 2016-17 winter season in Northern BC

I generally don’t pay much attention to longer term weather forecasts. When I see headlines in the middle of summer informing me that my local ski area is going to see  120% of its average snowfall during the upcoming winter, I always take it with a grain of salt and remain in the camp of “let’s wait and see.” The thing about weather predictions is they have a sort of sliding scale of uncertainty. Weather agencies and meteorologist can predict how much snowfall we will receive with surprising accuracy a few days ahead, but a few months out it’s more about a general trend.

Here's hopin' fpr 2016-17 winter | Photo - Dave Silver

Here’s hopin’ for 2016-17 winter | Photo – Dave Silver

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Wax – Yes It’s Important

No, not your legs. In this case I’m talking about waxing your skis or boards. For whatever reason, waxing is something that people often neglect. Much like your boots (which if neglected will turn your ski boots into torture chambers), the base of your skis or boards is something that needs to be loved and cared for. It’s the place where snow meets human, where that magic relationship between ski and pow becomes something wonderful and beautiful and makes life worth living.

Yes, waxing can even make a difference in cold smoke. Photo - Dave Silver

Yes, waxing can even make a difference in cold smoke.
Photo – Dave Silver

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The Benefits of Heli Skiing in Small Groups of 4 Guests

Signs of Fall are upon us in British Columbia. Leaves have started turning and many ski resorts have reported their first snowfalls of the season. The yearly seasonal change-over is considerably earlier than normal. Case in point, even the local apple harvest in the Okanagan is a full two weeks ahead of schedule. All signs point to an early winter.

4 people heli skiing looking at mountains

4 Guests + Guide | Photo: Caton Garvie

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Summer activities – it ain’t over

September always seems to have a bit of melancholy surrounding it. The air is cooler with shorter days. Kids begin their long trudge back to school. Summer activities have written their final chapter before we move into the long, wet fall.

summer activities

September in the Bugaboos. Perfect. | Photo – Vince Shuley

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A Guide to Smithers: The Paris of the North

My friends have always called me picky, and in many regards, there’re probably right. I grew up in the Rockies Mountains of Alberta, one of the best places (in my opinion) to live in Canada. There’re few that can rival it, however Smithers comes darn close. The town of Smithers is located in the Bulkley Valley in Northwestern BC. Built on the Yellowhead Highway, an essential travel vein in Canada, and connected by train and daily flights, Smithers has become an important hub for the region. It’s the service area for most of the Bulkley Valley and was the first incorporated village in BC, in 1921. Referred as the “Paris of the North” due to all the art and style, it’s a welcome site in a rugged and remote part of Canada. The town has a bylaw that requires the  downtown to be built in an “alpine depiction”, like a Swiss ski town. It has the second highest PhD’s per capita in BC, after Victoria, and boasts the most medical doctors per capita in Canada. Thus, not only is it a great place to visit, but perhaps also to die (or at least be sickly). Either way, whether you’re there for visiting, living, or dying, here’s some things you can do:

| Photo - smithersriversidefarm

Smithers in all its glory | Photo – smithersriversidefarm

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Choosing the Right Ski

When it's like this, it doesn't really matter what ski you're on...they're all going to be fun.  Photo - Willi Kunz

When it’s like this, it doesn’t really matter what ski you’re on…they’re all going to be fun.
Photo – Willi Kunz

It’s tough buying skis these days. There’s just too much choice; skinny, fat, super fat, reverse camber, traditional camber, big mountain, all mountain, park, race, jib…it’s getting crazy. Plus there are more ski manufacturers now than ever, from the big companies to the dozens of small, independent ski fabricators cropping up all over the world. But choosing a ski begins not with who makes it, but with what shape and size you want it to be. Once you have an idea of that, then you go shopping for who makes what you want. This is true whether you want one or ten skis in your quiver. Continue reading

Just how far is Bell 2?

There’s a reason why our company is named Last Frontier Heliskiing. It’s far – really far – from most of the urban population centers in British Columbia. But the remoteness of the Bell 2 Lodge is part of its’ charm. Both our guides and guests enjoy the feeling of seclusion when fully enveloped in a micro community that’s all about heliskiing, good food and comfortable accommodations.

Bell 2

Bell 2 Lodge in full winter regalia | Photo _Steve Rossett

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The Ultimate Backcountry Music Playlist

As I’m sure both managers of the Bell 2 Lodge and Ripley Creek at Last Frontier Heliskiing can attest to, our director Mike Watling is fanatic about two (lets just pretend its two…) things: Lighting and Music. Periodically throughout the year, mystery boxes appear from around the world, with instructions about joining a “leeang leeang” with a “flux capacitor” to improve the dining room. During my three years at Last Frontier Heliskiing, I’ve learnt how important the two are. Lighting can make all the difference, especially when eating, it can influence someones hunger and thirst. A stark room with appropriate lighting can become a rustic and cosy environment, perfect for a snuggle. Combine good lighting with music and you’re set.

| Photo - Dave Silver

Nice and cosy | Photo – Dave Silver

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Becoming a Heliski Guide

Imagine you spent your work days skiing untracked snow, all day, every day, from a helicopter. Not only that, you are the first to drop in every single time, every day, for the entire seasons. Top that off with a fairly decent pay rate and the fact that you will be waking up in some of the most beautiful places in the world…sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Enter The Ski Guide.

Helicopters and fresh turns.   Photo - Steve Rosset

Helicopters and fresh turns.
Photo – Steve Rosset

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Cost of guided backcountry skiing: Heli vs Cat vs Guided Ski Touring

If you regularly read this blog you are likely already aware of the attraction of backcountry skiing; landing on a remote peak to ski an untouched glacier, surfing bottomless powder through perfectly-spaced trees, topping out on a ridge and taking a moment to soak in the view before dropping into a mountain gully. While many recreationists opt to rely on their own skills to keep themselves safe in the backcountry, those without training are best off using a guided service. That can be either by heliskiing, cat skiing, or by self-propelled ski touring, all with their own pros and cons. The cost of guided backcountry skiing varies significantly between the different guided services, as does the amount of vertical and versatility in different weather.

| Dave Silver

Heliskiing. Winning! | Photo – Dave Silver

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Perceptions and Discussions of the Term “Wilderness”

Recently I asked a question on my Facebook page, what does the term wilderness mean to you? It’s a term that’s commonly thrown about in regards to the great outdoors, but what does it actually refer to? Can we drive to it on a weekend trip? Does it involve helicopters, month long trudges, battling bugs, and cans of Spam? Turns out its definition can vary, from person to person, and place to place. Historically, it has changed over time. It was more common in the past to regard it as an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region. A place of neglect or abandonment and not profitable. We couldn’t farm it, cut it, shape it, and it had no dollar value. As our perceptions of nature changed over time, so did our views of what was wild and what wasn’t.

The highest peak in Canada - Mount Logan at 5959 meters. It's an hour flight from the closest road, it this isn't wild, I don't know what is | Photo - Liam Harrap

The highest peak in Canada – Mount Logan at 5,959 meters. It’s an hour flight from the closest road, if this isn’t wild, I don’t know what is | Photo – Liam Harrap

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