2019 Last Frontier Heliskiing Season Recap
As we close the books on another successful heli skiing season [our 24th], we can’t help but get a little sentimental. Some of our seasonal crew including heliski guides and lodge staff are transitioning into summer work, while others stay on for the start of summer operations at Bell 2 Lodge. At our head office in Vernon, BC, plans are already being crafted for our 2021 season and beyond. The arrival of Spring means that most of our guests have tucked their skis or boards into the closet, which is always a bit of a shame as we could easily extend our season into late April or early May. Regardless, we are so very thankful to our guests that took time out of their busy lives to visit us at Bell 2 Lodge or Ripley Creek [or both] this winter.
2019 will go down as the sunniest year we’ve ever had since we started keeping track of conditions in 2005. Clear skies brought with it unprecedented opportunities to explore the furthest reaches of our lands. Despite having periods of one or even two weeks without snow, the vast scale and flexibility of our tenure allowed us to continually find fresh tracks for our guests. With less than 0.9 down days per week at Bell 2 Lodge and 0.7 down days per week at Ripley Creek, our guests got to ski a lot. We skied more vertical than any year since 2013 and despite below average snowfall levels, the quality of skiing remained consistently good to amazing.
Our first guests of the 2019 season arrived on December 22nd. The early season brought with it plenty of snowfall and a solid base was built for the season. If you where looking for tree skiing, December and January had some awesome early season conditions down low.
As we rolled into January, the storms kept coming and almost 300cm of snow fell in the month. This made for some really great tree skiing when visibility was low. Several temperature inversions created a slew of dramatic days above cloud layers that formed over the valley bottoms.
Temperatures quickly dipped in February as the skies cleared up and two huge high-pressure systems set in. We skied cold power all month long. The weather was so good that we only had a single down day at Bell 2 Lodge all month and none at Ripley Creek.
March brought with it much milder temperatures and a big storm system in the first half of the month. We had some of the biggest days of the season as the sunny skies returned. Great snow was found at higher elevations and the snowpack settled beautifully. Steep skiing was on.
April continued to delight with a very stable snowpack, many clear blue days and a nice snow refresh towards the middle of the month. Our last guests departed Bell 2 Lodge on April 12th.