The History of Last Frontier Heliskiing

December 11, 2015 Vince Shuley
Last Frontier Guides looking good - history in the making | Last Frontier Archives
Last Frontier Guides looking good – history in the making | Last Frontier Archives

2015 marked the 20th anniversary of operations for Last Frontier Heliskiing. 20 years of adventures, growth, smiles and improvements have made them one of the premier heli-ski ops in the world – boasting smaller groups (groups of 5 for 2015/2016 and dropping down to groups of 4 for 2017) than their top competitors. As is true in our own lives, it’s important to know where we came from (our history, lessons learned, ski outfit choices that should never be made again) in order to truly appreciate where we are, so warm up your coffee, grab a holiday cookie and settle in as we take a look back at the history of Last Frontier Heliskiing.

To the chopper! | Last Frontier Archives
To the chopper! | Last Frontier Archives

1968 – Herb Bleuer, a mountain guide from Switzerland, was hired to complete avalanche control work for the Grand Duc Mine near Stewart, BC. In his free time, he ski-toured around the area and explored the mountains, lines and valleys in the area. After his stint working for the Mine, he guided for several heli-ski operations throughout British Columbia.

1994 – Through Herb’s tales about the amazing terrain near Stewart, Last Frontier founders (George Rosset, Franz Fux, Mike Watling and Geoff Straight) decide to explore the area for themselves to see if it could be a good area for a heli-ski operation. They discovered a prime staging area for their op – Bell 2 Lodge – a lodge that was built in 1979 for people traveling to and from Alaska.

Hot tub party fly-by at Bell 2 Lodge | Last Frontier Archives
Hot tub party fly-by at Bell 2 Lodge | Last Frontier Archives

1996 – Using a single A-Star heli, Last Frontier Heliskiing spends eight weeks exploring the terrain available to them. They take along TGR to document the first descents and now accessible (for Last Frontier Heliskiing) mountains and terrain. This footage would end up being used in their movie Re: Session.

1997-2003 – From small traveler’s lodge to full-on heli-ski village, Bell 2 is transformed into a beautiful mountain paradise.

Bell 2 Lodging -  A rich history with a bright future | Steve Rosset
Bell 2 Lodging – A rich history with a bright future | Steve Rosset

2005 – Last Frontier establishes another heli-skiing area in the small community of Stewart, BC. This new area (known as Ripley Creek) is explored and established by lead guides George Feitzinger and Andre Ike.

Ripley Creek | Mike Watling
Ripley Creek | Mike Watling

2008 – Last Frontier heliskiing makes it mandatory that all guests be issued avalanche airbags – one of the first operators in the heliski industry to do so.

ABS Airbags issued to every heli guest | Steve Rosset
ABS Airbags issued to every heli guest | Steve Rosset

2010 – Bell 2 Lodge adds a third helicopter to their fleet, bumping guest capacity to 35.

2013 – The common facilities (the dining room and gift shop) at Bell 2 Lodge are renovated and modernized.

Newly modernized gift shop and common area at Bell 2 | Greg Foster
Newly modernized gift shop and common area at Bell 2 | Greg Foster

2014 – Franz Fux and George Rosset give-up their stakes in the company – Franz stays on as Director of Ops and George’s role as Managing Partner is succeeded to Mike Watling.

2015 – Last Frontier Heliskiing turns 20 years old! High five for that killer history lesson!

An eye on the past with a hand on the future - The original Bell 2 Lodge | Last Frontier Archives
An eye on the past with a hand on the future – The original Bell 2 Lodge | Last Frontier Archives

As Last Frontier Heliskiing embarks on their 21st year (for those Americans out there, this is always a rather exciting one), they step forward with excitement – remembering their history, but focusing on the moment, and always having an an eye on the future. What will the next 5, 10, 20 years bring, you may ask? More… much, much more.

Now let's go ski some pow! | Reuben Krabbe
Now let’s go ski some pow! | Reuben Krabbe