Heliskiing Update – Ripley Creek is Ripping!

February 08, 2018 D'Arcy McLeish
Some of the terrain at Ripley Creek. Photo - Andre Ike
Some of the terrain at Ripley Creek.
Photo – Andre Ike

At Last Frontier Heliskiing, we operate out of two distinct locations in our heliski area in Northern BC. Bell 2 Lodge, our purpose built heliskiing facility, sits right in the middle of our 10,200 square kilometre heliski area, or tenure, on the Stewart Cassiar Highway. This year the season at Bell 2 opened on December 15th. But we do have a second location that just opened last week. The Ripley Creek Inn, located in the frontier town of Stewart, BC, sits on the border of BC and Southeast Alaska. It’s at the southern end of our tenure and comprises a bit of a different feel from Bell 2 Lodge.

Double overhead at Ripley last week. Photo - Hansjoerg Franz
Double overhead at Ripley last week.
Photo – Hansjoerg Franz

Stewart is a small town located at the end of the Portland Canal, one of the longest fjords in North America. It’s right on the border, literally, of the State of Alaska. So close, in fact, that you can walk from Stewart into Hyder, Alaska for a beer (and quite often our guests do!).

Some of our guides hard at work in the field. Photo - Hansjoerg Franz
Some of our guides hard at work in the field.
Photo – Hansjoerg Franz

Stewart is a former mining town that sits in some of the most spectacular mountains in BC. The Coast Mountain Range towers over this quaint little mountain town and here, like at Bell 2, the snow is measured in metres. And so far this season they’ve had a boatload of coastal snow. They’ve had over 100cm in the last two weeks with another storm on the way.

ski vacation
The Ripley Creek Inn, Stewart, B.C.
Photo -Steve Rosset

The skiing in the southern part of our tenure is a little different, too. If you’re looking for deep trees and big lines overlooking the pacific and southeast Alaska, look no further. Ripley is famous for its terrain. The operation is different here as well. A typical heliski day, for instance, rolls out with our first group of guests making the two min drive down to the airport to jump in a machine for the first ski of the day. The rest of the guests will head to a staging area for their first lap via van. All meals are served across the street at the Bitter Creek Cafe where we operate our own restaurant and gift shop. It’s different from a remote heliski lodge and has that small mountain town intimacy.

Our lead guide, Andre Ike, running hot in the alpine last week at Ripley Creek. Photo - Andre Ike
Our lead guide, Andre Ike, running hot in the alpine last week at Ripley Creek.
Photo – Andre Ike

Our guests the last couple of weeks have had some absolutely fantastic skiing, from deep tree skiing to some sunshine laps in the alpine. There were even some sunshine pow days that were all time. The snowpack is over 300cm at 1000 metres in elevation and everything up high is looking fat and filled in. In fact, all over our tenure we’re in full winter snowpack mode and have been able to really get out an explore. With March around the corner, a good season might just turn into a great one.

Sunset over Stewart the other night. Photo - Guido Schnelzer
Sunset over Stewart the other night.
Photo – Guido Schnelzer

Both locations offer epic terrain and each have a distinct character. While most guests tend to book one location or the other, we do offer combination tours, known as our heliski safaris, that see guests spending a portion of their heliski holiday at Bell 2 and then skiing and flying their way halfway through their stay to Ripley Creek. It’s a great way to fully explore the size and scope of our terrain and definitely offers up the best of both locations. For more info on our heliski safaris, give us a call or drop us a line. We will be sure to write more about that trip in the coming weeks.

www.lastfrontierheli.com