November 13, 2014 – It can be difficult to choose when to go heliskiing. At Last Frontier Heliskiing, we’ve even written a post about it to help you decide when to come visit. You see, every month is different and they all have their pros and cons. March is the glory month; sunshine and waist deep turns. February is cool and crisp and made for long, alpine descents and exploring the deep corners of our massive tenure. Early April is spring skiing at its best with some pow days thrown in for good measure. December can be epic, with those early season storms that seem to never stop rolling in. But January? January is something different.
Every year the North Coast of British Columbia gets pummelled with some of the biggest snowstorms on earth. There’s a reason George Rosset, all those years ago, decided to set up Last Frontier Heliskiing where he did. The area of the North Coast and Skeena Mountains is pretty much the snowiest place on earth. The average annual snowfall at Last Frontier Heliskiing is just over 25 metres. TWENTY FIVE METRES. That’s a faceshot a day for the whole season and roughly ten to fifteen metres above the annual average for most ski resorts in North America.
In January, those storms roll through and drop some of the deepest, fluffiest snow I have ever skied. Sure, we get inclement weather, but even in January, when the massive deposits of blower BC pow get dumped on our tenure, we still average about a half to a day of no flying time each week. I’m usually grateful at that point cause my legs need a rest. Whether skiing from a helicopter or lapping the resort, January is the month to really shred. It’s still in the first part of the season, so the powder addiction is in full force. It snows, well, all the time. Every day. Non stop. At Last Frontier Heliskiing, January is epic. It’s the month where things are a little quieter and a little cheaper. Where the depths of each storm are measured in metres and the variety of terrain really shines.
Unlike a lot of other operators out there, Last Frontier Heliskiing really does have it all when it comes to terrain. From either of our two locations, the skiing and riding is truly limitless. But I think what I like most about skiing in January are the trees. Sure, big, wide open alpine bowls and glaciers are great, but often, even after the deepest storms, they are never as deep as skiing in the trees. My deepest turns have always been in the trees and there is nothing so satisfying as skiing chest deep turns in old growth forest. At Last Frontier, our tree skiing options rival those of our high alpine options. Where other operators are averaging two to three no fly days each week because of their lack of tree skiing, we are flying almost every day and taking clients into some of the most fun terrain on offer anywhere.
Tree skiing is fantastic. It’s easily managed by your guide when the avalanche hazard is high, it’s beautiful and sheltered from the elements and even in the most raging storms, when it snows in the trees, it’s calm and understated. But what I love most is how deep the snow can be. At Last Frontier, it’s not uncommon to actually be skiing in snow so deep it defies explanation. Bringing a snorkel is the running joke in January but there have been times, up there, where guests have actually wondered aloud if we should include it with their equipment.
Deep snow is why I ski. It is the reason I make my life in the mountains. For our guides, our staff and our guests, it’s the reason for everything. January at Last Frontier Heliskiing is a study in deep snow skiing and riding. It’s that place where you can truly lose yourself in your powder addiction. It’s the place where people begin to understand why folks give up their jobs and live in their cars, spending all their days skiing and riding. Don’t get me wrong. We spend time up high in January. I’ve had some beautiful, sun-filled powder days above tree line in January, but there’s no denying, the norm for that time of year is skiing when it’s snowing. So if you really want to go somewhere to ski deep snow. Not boot deep or knee deep, but waist deep snow on the edge of a wild and beautiful wilderness, January at Last Frontier Heliskiing is your best option.
Be safe, ski hard.