Daily Heliski Program

Your day at Last Frontier Heli starts with the opportunity to join a morning stretch session, followed by a proper breakfast to fuel up for the day. On the first day there will be a safety briefing where we cover how to use a transceiver plus the do’s and don’ts around the heli.

Once we get airborne the real fun begins. We explore further out into the heliski tenure over the course of the day, pausing for a picnic-style lunch in the mountains, and logging anywhere from 8 to 15 runs. Let’s just say your heart and legs will let you know you’re alive. (The number of runs per day depends on the length of the runs, the ability of the group, the conditions and how much you as a group wish to ski or ride.)

Apres-ski is as celebrated as the skiing with snacks served in the bar. Jump in the hot tub or treat yourself to a massage before dinner, which is served around 7 p.m. Cheers to a nightcap or turn in and reset before another big day tomorrow.

A Day In the Life

The Backgrounder Video Series

Daily Program

Ski, eat, sleep — repeat. Scoring fresh powder is anything but ordinary, but a day in the life at Last Frontier quickly falls into a welcome routine. Here’s what to expect from wake-up to last call (depends on time of year):

7:15
Morning stretch class (optional)
8:00
Buffet breakfast
8:45
Get gear ready
9:00
Depart from lodge
9:00 - 12:00
Morning heli skiing
12:00
Picnic-style lunch in the mountains
13:00 - 16:00
Afternoon heli skiing
16:00 - 19:00
Apres-ski and snacks in the lodge
18:00
Free time for relaxation
19:00
Dinner
20:30
Bar open….

Safety

Guest safety is fundamental to everything we do at Last Frontier.

Striking a balance between showing you the time of your life and keeping you safe is our top priority. This is how we tackle it:

On an industry level: All the top heliski operators in BC have safety at the forefront of their minds. If and when something goes wrong at any one of those operations we are quick to share any lessons to be learnt amongst each other. Snow conditions and avalanche hazards are discussed twice daily amongst all mountain guides across British Columbia and the various businesses they work for. It’s a space of intense collaboration.

On a business level: As a business we’ve been at it since 1996, some of our staff a lot longer than that. We have protocols and systems in place that have been refined over the years to eliminate as much of the risk as possible, both on the snow and in the air. Training sessions are held regularly and there’s a very open forum that’s encouraged to self-assess and cross assess. It keeps everyone on their toes at all times. We consider safety at Last Frontier Heli a team sport, at Olympic level.

The Northern BC mountain wilderness can be challenging and unrelenting. Our guides meet each morning and evening to discuss terrain and snow stability. Weather forecasts and snow conditions are continuously monitored by our snow safety team. This analysis determines our terrain choice. The information is also pooled and shared across British Columbia with other mountain safety professionals. It is important to follow the directions of your guide at all times.

On a personal level: Your guides and pilots are there to take you out into the mountains and show you the time of your life but more importantly, they are there to bring you home safely. They are the backbone of what we do. They are not there to scare you, they are not there to prove how steep they can ski. Most have families and like you (we will assume) have every interest in coming home at the end of the day. They too love to ski, so when the conditions and the group’s ability allow, they will open the throttle and turn up the volume. When it doesn’t, they won’t – and you should thank them for it.

In spite of our best efforts, there are inherent risks and hazards associated with helicopter skiing that are beyond our control and that you must share with us. You will be asked to read, understand and sign a waiver / release of liability before you ski / board with us.

Safety

The Backgrounder Series

Meet Our Guides

We take no shortcuts when it comes to who we recruit: All our guides are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) or International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA). Occasionally we have guides that are certified under the Canadian Ski Guide Association (CSGA). They update and recertify their designations annually. Many are trained at the highest levels available and have the field expertise to match.

Our heliski guides are chosen not only for their skill in navigating the mountains, but also for their charisma and enthusiasm (after coffee). You’ll spend all day and often a solid part of the evening with them, so bring some good (or bad) jokes.

Most of our guides are Canadian. Some born here and some elsewhere that have purchased their lumberjack shirts, hockey skates and can now call themselves Canadian. We still have a few ‘imports’ from around the world. We intentionally have a team of very different personalities on the guiding (and lodging) team. It’s rare but if one of our staff (or guests for that matter) rubs you the wrong way, just let us know. That way we can make some changes to who you ski or ride with.

  • Cliff Umpleby
    Director of Operations & Lead Guide
  • Michael Brackenhofer
    Guiding Manager & Lead Guide - Bell 2 Lodge
  • Andre Ike
    Guiding Manager & Lead Guide - Ripley Creek
  • Lucas Holtzman
    Assistant Guiding Manager, Lead Guide - Bell 2 Lodge
  • Colin Moorhead
    Assistant Guiding Manager, Lead Guide - Ripley Creek
  • Franz Fux
    Lead Guide
  • Mark Corbett
    Lead Guide
  • Matt Edwards
    Lead Guide
  • Mike Gadja
    Lead Guide
  • Lydia Marmont
    Lead Guide
  • Eirik Sharp
    Lead Guide
  • Hannes Webhofer
    Lead Guide
  • Melissa Makepeace
    Apprentice Guide
  • Luis Castillo
    Lead Guide
  • Charles Gerrard
    Lead Guide
  • Marc Reimer
    Lead Guide
  • Graeme White
    Lead Guide

Meet Our Pilots

The challenges that come with flying in the mountains, along with the precious cargo on board mean you need the right kind of pilot. A good heliski pilot must be highly focused and thrive working in this kind of intense environment. Our pilots are at the top of their game and are closely supported by a team of on-site engineers.

Consistency year to year is absolutely key. We have been working with Access Helicopters since 2012.

When the flying is done for the day, the pilots hang up their helmets, gather around the piano, sing songs Top Gun style, swoon the local ladies and burn off into the sunset on their motorbikes...In their dreams.

  • Michael Holcroft
    Co-Owner & Pilot
  • Joel ‘Papa’ Valentine
    Co-Owner & Pilot
  • Aaron Gillingham
    Pilot

Safety Gear

Last Frontier supplies all guests with an avalanche transceiver and an ABS Airbag backpack containing essential safety items including a shovel and probe. All guests visiting Last Frontier will be trained to use the transceiver, ABS Airbag and basic rescue equipment.

Avalanche Airbags
The ABS airbag is a small backpack which contains two large pouches. By pulling a rip-cord, the pouches are filled with air and deployed from the side of the pack. The system is designed to minimize the risk of burial if involved in an avalanche.

Emergencies
Continuous radio contact between the pilots, guides and the lodge ensures communication in the event of an emergency. There are always two radios in each group. The guides carry emergency equipment in their packs, additional equipment is carried in the helicopters and there are several rescue caches within our tenure. The closest hospital and an additional helicopter base is located within 30 to 40 minutes flying time.

Avalanche Transceiver Interference
Cellular phones, GoPro cameras, electric gloves and metal objects can seriously interfere with the transmit and receive functions of your avalanche transceiver. In the event of an avalanche, if a phone or similar device is not turned OFF it will interfere with a search beacon. We recommend that all cell phones are turned off while skiing. Review Last Frontier Heliskiing’s electronic equipment policies.

Touring Boots
The use of touring boots is highly discouraged. Recent tests have shown that all makes and models of touring boots have failed release function tests. We recommend using only alpine ski boots with our skis. If you’re bringing your own skis, alpine touring pin bindings are also not recommended.

Guests who still wish to use their own equipment will be required to sign an additional release of liability before skiing. Before your visit, please review the waiver.

— Guides will track anything of note that they see during the day and share with the other guides at the evening meeting.

— The pilots are masters in their realm.

— Guides load & unload all skis & safety equipment.

— The Bell 2 Lodge boot and drying room.

— Ski tech facility at Bell 2 Lodge.

— All guests are provided with an ABS Avalanche Airbag.

— Guest packs contain a shovel and probe.

— The Ripley Creek boot and drying room.

— Ski tech facility at Ripley Creek.

— Guests receive training on use of avalanche transceiver.

— Guests are educated on basic avalanche rescue techniques.

— Guides monitor snow conditions on an ongoing basis.

— The guide is the first one out of the chopper after landing.

Our Fleet of Skis & Snowboards

We choose the skis in our fleet because we consider they are the best for the conditions (not because the manufacturer gives us the best deal). Most guests and guides enjoy skiing on them but we appreciate that for some finding the right ski can be like discovering the holy grail. Therefore, you’re welcome to bring your own quiver. Powder skis, poles and snowboards are included in the trip at no charge. We have a limited selection of snowboards, so please request in advance to discuss options. We encourage you to use our stock of skis and poles to avoid having to travel with gear. However, we don’t have any boots so you must bring these with you, and we strongly recommend traveling with them as hand-luggage so they arrive with you.

 

There’s a reason why the Super 7 HD has earned a stack of accolades. It’s perfect for skiers looking to float in powder with easy maneuverability.
Sizes: 164, 172, 180 & 188 cmTip/Waist/Tail Dimensions: 140/116/130 mm
Waist-deep days have nothing on the Rocker2. A playful ski that floats in deep powder and stays solid at speed even when conditions turn ugly.
Sizes: 180, 184 & 192 cmTip/Waist/Tail Dimensions: 144/122/134 mm
The QST 118 lets you charge in powder on the deepest of days with its light construction, thick waist and twin rocker profile.
Sizes: 171, 178, 185 & 192 cmTip/Waist/Tail Dimensions: 142/118/129 mm
With a twin tip shape and lively rocker profile, the Rossignol Angus Snowboard is built for surfy, all-mountain riding.
Sizes: 154 & 156 cm
Designed with camber between your feet and rocker at the nose and tail, the Sick Stick makes for effortless float in powder and a fierce edge hold when it counts.
Sizes: 160 & 163 cm
A shorter and wider profile lets the Derby turn on a dime in the trees, while its tapered directional shape is optimal for high-speed powder slashing.
Sizes: 163 & 166 cm
A cross between powder and freestyle board constructions, the Assassin is built as a ride-anything solution for all conditions.
Sizes: 160 cm
The Rossignol XV Sushi is aggressive volume shift board has it all — wide waist, tapered shape and powerful nose for a surf-inspired ride.
Sizes: 145 cm
Designed in BC, the Khyber has long been the ride of choice for deep, coastal days. With its drastic tail taper, directional shape and shovelled nose, the back end sinks to relieve leg burn.
Sizes: 156, 160 & 165 cm

Down Days

Overall, heli skiing down days are relatively few and far between. The secret: tree skiing and lots of it. The trees provide ample options for low visibility days. We don’t offer cat-skiing backup because we don’t need it. On a seasonal average, we experience half to one full down day per week. Of course each winter is unique and throughout the season, there is no better or worse period for downtime.

Those same storms that deliver the pow can also bring weather that creates problems for flying. Down days are caused by one or more of the following factors: high winds, very poor visibility, icing or extreme avalanche hazard. Our two lodges offer a variety of activities to keep you entertained when we are grounded. The good news is that down days tend to be followed by the most epic of ski days.

Bell 2 Lodge
Bell 2 LodgeCross-Country SkiingSnowshoeingSki Touring
Skeet ShootingTarget ShootingFat Biking
BonfiresArchery
Ripley Greek
Ripley GreekVisit AlaskaMuseum VisitsExplore Town & Local Bar
SnowshoeingBonfiresSkeet Shooting
Frisbee GolfCruiser Bikes [Spring]

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