What Our Helicopters Get Up To During the Summer

August 12, 2016 Liam Harrap

While winter is long in Canada, the season for heli-skiing is short. Careful! If you blink too fast, you might just miss it! The ski season runs from mid-December to April, with the peak being in February and March. Not only do the staff have to find others job to fill the “in-between” time during summer, but so do our helicopters. Not surprisingly, we do not own our own helicopters. Every year we hire a company to run, maintain, and fly the machines. The Bell 2 Lodge uses Access Helicopters, based out of Kelowna, and Ripley Creek uses Mustang, based out of Alberta. Here’s what our helicopters have been up to this summer.

The Chopper Dropping Skiers Off At The Top Of A Run. Yeehaw! | Photo - Mike Watling
The chopper dropping skiers off at the top of a run. Yeehaw! | Photo – Mike Watling

Access Helicopters

We have had a partnership with Access for a longtime, the first season being 1996. The owner, Joel Valentine, is a familiar face to our returning guests. He’s popular with the clients, staff, and knows our tenure better than most. This has been a busy summer for his company. With such a dry, hot spring, the wild fires exploded, with some helicopters being used to fight the devastating Fort McMurray fire. With the cool and wet summer, the fires have died down. Thus, the choppers have been working on mining projects in Northern Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Territories. We look forward to another season with Joel!

| Photo - Reuben Krabbe
These helicopters have seen the world | Photo – Reuben Krabbe


The 2015/16 was our first season with Mustang. They have had also a busy summer, with some machines staying in the Stewart area and working on the new hydro line to a nearby mine. Other projects include clearing trees along the USA/Canada border, mining , and surveying. They also had a couple machines involved with the Fort McMurray fire. We had an awesome winter with Mustang, and look forward hopefully to many years of partnership!

| Photo - Liam Harrap
In the summertime I work for the Alberta government as a biologist. In July, I was in Wood Buffalo National Park, about 100 km from the nearest town, picking flowers,  when out of no-where a Mustang helicopter appeared. It was fighting forest fires (like this one) with Parks Canada | Photo – Liam Harrap
| Photo - Liam Harrap
A typical northern view. This is the landscape both companies Mustang and Access work in during the summer for mining and surveying work | Photo – Liam Harrap
| Photo - Steve Rosset
Only 133 days until winter, but who’s counting…| Photo – Steve Rosset

Summer can be a busy time for helicopter companies, with wild fires, oil industry work, and mining. However, we look forward to old man winter returning, and bringing the helicopters with it so we can ski again. Yahoo!