How Did We Choose Our Heliskiing Area?

August 12, 2015 D'Arcy McLeish
Northern Bc. Our Tenure, Our  Home, Our Passion. Endless.  Photo - Jun Yanagisawa
Northern BC. Our tenure, our home, our passion. Endless.
Photo – Jun Yanagisawa

Back before Last Frontier Heliskiing opened its doors, the founder of the business, George Rosset, had been on the lookout for more terrain. At the time, he operated another heliski operation in Southern BC and felt that there was a way to offer more. More snow, more terrain, more skiing. Along with his future partners, Franz Fux and Mike Watling, George’s vision has always been about finding the edge and constantly working to improve what they offer their guests with passion, ambition and the spirit of exploration. With that, there was a dream of expanding into the vast, untouched wilderness areas of Northern British Columbia.

George And Franz In Their Happy Place.  Photo - Last Frontier Heliskiing
George and Franz in their happy place.
Photo – Last Frontier Heliskiing

Enter Herb Bleuer. A Swiss Mountain Guide, Herb was instrumental in the early days of heliskiing in the Bugaboo Mountains as one of the pioneers, along with Hans Gmoser, Rudi Gertsch and Peter Schlunegger, of taking people skiing via helicopter. In 1969, while working as an avalanche forecaster at the Grand Duc Mine near Stewart, BC, Herb began to explore the terrain. His days off were spent ski touring all over the area and before long he began to see the potential for the vast expanses of the Coast and Skeena Mountain Ranges for a heliski operation.

This Is Why We Chose Photo - Last Frontier Heliskiing
Mike Watling getting his stoke on. 
Photo – Last Frontier Heliskiing

Herb went on to guide for another 25 years and it wasn’t until 1996 that at Herb’s urging, George started exploring those northern reaches in earnest. After a few trips up north it became obvious that this was the new frontier in heliskiing. With average snowfalls of close to 25 metres every year, and vast, untouched mountain ranges with a scope and variety of terrain they didn’t think possible, Last Frontier Heliskiing was born.

Bell 2 Lodge In The Early Days... Photo - Last Frontier Heliskiing
Bell 2 Lodge in the early days…
Photo – Last Frontier Heliskiing

As an added bonus, Bell 2, which at the time was a small outpost with a modest lodge on the Stewart Cassiar Highway and catered to passersby heading to and from Alaska, was smack in the middle of all this terrain. Last Frontier Heliskiing began operating out of Bell 2 and later, in 2001, expanded to Stewart BC. Both locations allow them to cover the 9000 square kilometres of terrain that encompass the Last Frontier Heliskiing tenure.

All That Snow In The Backgound? That's Why We Came Here... Photo - Last Frontier Heliskiing
All that snow in the backgound? That’s why we came here…
Photo – Last Frontier Heliskiing

It’s a big place and over the years, Last Frontier has become one of the most well known small group focused heliski operations. Bell 2 is now a fully repurposed heliski facility and can accommodate up to 35 guests. All ski in groups of five plus their guide. Down the road, perched on the egde of the longest fjord in North America is Stewart, BC. Here, Last Frontier operates out of the Ripley Creek Inn. The Stewart location can accommodate up to 28 people and is in the heart of one of the most rugged landscapes in BC.

Shwowng Our Guests A Good Time.  Photo - Reuben Krabbe
Shwowng our guests a good time. And yes, the guide gets to go first. Now you know why Franz is still out there…
Photo – Reuben Krabbe

The northern reaches of BC have always been where George, Franz and Mike have wanted to be. All three continue to be involved in the business. It’s not uncommon for Franz to be out there, digging pits and looking at the snow, between guiding his guests on yet another day of powder skiing or seeing Mike, now the managing partner, shredding pow laps with both guests and staff. The passion, experience and love of the snow all three bring to the business is inspiring for those of us that work for them. From that, the team at Last Frontier Heliskiing continues to try and keep exploring our limits and continue to offer what we see as some of the best skiing in the world.

Be safe, ski hard.