A Rocky Mountain Christmas Story – From a Staffer at Last Frontier Heliskiing

December 24, 2016 Liam Harrap

Christmas isn’t meant to be spent indoors. As with all holidays, it’s meant to be an adventure. The following is a Christmas spent in the mountains of Canada by a staff member at Last Frontier Heliskiing.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
Holidays should be spent among snow, friends, and mountains | Photo – Liam Harrap

Pony Boy, the red Toyota Forerunner, chugged down the road to Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park. The driver, Liam, hoped it wouldn’t get too cold the next couple days. Pony Boy didn’t like the cold. He might kick up a fuss and not start when they returned from the camping trip – he’s stubborn like that. 

| Photo - Liam Harrap
The group | Photo – Liam Harrap

At the parking lot, Stacey, Liam, and his dad packed their bags. They were overflowing with goodies – it was the night before Christmas after all. Stacey had never skied before. Never winter camped. Hell, never been below -5 C. The weather network predicted the night would go below – 30 C. Stacey warned Liam that if she perished, he’d have to explain the unfortunate situation to her mother. And she would not be forgiving.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
Liam’s dad is well stocked with snacks | Photo – Liam Harrap

The group was heading to a “cabin” down the lake, only a couple hours ski. I say “cabin”, because the floor was dirt and the roof wasn’t connected to the walls. Better to use the term “character building shelter”. A good place to grow hair on the chest said Liam to the group. Stacey told Liam she didn’t want a hairy chest. Apparently, she thought she had enough character as is. Typical!

| Photo - Liam Harrap
The temperature went below the thermometer. Oh dear | Photo – Liam Harrap

By dusk, the group had arrived at Hidden Cove “Cabin”. A fire was started, the kettle prepared, and mince pies were passed around. Liam and Stacey built castles, trying to out-build each other. That night it got cold. Like I’m-never-leaving-my-sleeping-bag-even-if-the-hut-catches-fire cold. Pony Boy won’t be happy. Neither would Stacey’s mother. Good thing the walls were attached to the roof for extra warmth.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
Stacey won. She probably cheated. She must have! | Photo – Liam Harrap

Christmas morning came slowly. Winter is a time for sleeping as it’s too cold to get up when the sun hasn’t arrived. And since it isn’t light until 9 A.M, it’s a good time of the year to be well-rested.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
Food: The only reason I ever leave my sleeping bag | Photo – Liam Harrap

Nevertheless, soon the fire was stocked and breakfast was frying. Since we had no electricity, other means of entertainment was needed. Liam and Stacey boiled pots of water on the stove and tossed them into the air. They made snow – the hot water instantaneously turned into ice crystals and gently fell to the ground as fine white dust. It was magical.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
Stacey the snow making goddess | Photo – Liam Harrap

The group went for a ski, building an appetite. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and plum pudding was all in order. The sunset was a startling affair of yellows, pinks, and purples. The Queen of England didn’t have a finer view on Christmas. The group was merry well into the night, playing dutch blitz and settlers of catan. Life was good. Life was simple.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
Liam’s dad enjoying the sunset | Photo – Liam Harrap

Alas, all things must eventually end. Even Christmas. The next morning, the group packed and made the final ski back to Pony Boy. Of course, they were dressed for the occasion.

| Photo - Liam Harrap
Liam returning home in a kingly manner | Photo – Liam Harrap

Luckily Pony Boy started! A Christmas miracle! The group chugged back to a world of smart phones, Netflix, and Tinder. Nevertheless, they knew that when Christmas came again next year, they’d head off into the woods. As Christmas is meant to be spent in the Great Outdoors.

Merry Christmas

From Your Crew @ Last Frontier Heliskiing