Last Frontier Heliskiing Bell 2 Lodge
We met at a restaurant overlooking my old Silicon Valley windsurfing home, Coyote Point.
1. George, you are somewhat of an industry icon. How did you get into the heliskiing business?
In my twenties, I had been in Canada to play professional football (soccer). The league never got off the ground, but I loved Canada and set a goal to return by age 45. I spent 20 years in a real job and saved enough money to make it a year early. I founded my first heliskiing operation, TLH, in 1993.
2. You recently sold your interest in TLH Heliskiing. Why did you divest?
My wife and I found ourselves skiing more and more at Last Frontier; and less at TLH. We decided to focus on Last Frontier Heliskiing. Also, another partner wanted control of TLH, so it made sense for everyone.
3. How many days a year do you helicopter ski Canada?
It depends on the season, but usually 20-25.
4. Are you nuts?! You own two lodges (Bell 2 and Ripley Creek)
It might seem that way, but there are many aspects to managing the business. And, the guests come first.
5. I heliskied at the Last Frontier Bell 2 Lodge in 2003. What’s new?
Now our 7-day packages are 7 full days of skiing. You stayed in one of our new luxury cabins. We now have five cabins with four units each.
The facilities have all been upgraded, and we know the terrain very well.
Last Frontier Heli-Skiing, eh?
6. The way guests travel to Bell 2 Lodge has changed, too, eh?
Yes, we now fly to Smithers and take the bus 4.5 hours to avoid weather delays.
7. Last Frontier Heli-Skiing is almost in Alaska. How does your weather compare to the other locations in British Columbia?
Good question. My partner was working up in Northern BC and discovered the terrain and weather that is perfect for heliskiing. We ski the Coastal and Skeena ranges. It is colder, the snow is lighter, and we have fewer down days than some operators to the South.
8. What is the average vertical for a week at Last Frontier Heliskiing’s Bell 2 Lodge?
130-140K vertical feet (well above average)
9. How does Bell 2 compare to your other location, Ripley Creek?
[See our recent HELISKI.com Interview with Last Frontier Ripley Creek Lodge]
Ripley Creek is more hard corps. Steeper and more trees. Groups that like fast to turn around. It appeals to more aggressive skiers. Lodging is a hotel and the prices are lower.
10. What is the best feature of a week at Last Frontier Heliskiing?
The terrain. Great slopes, variety, trees and easy pickups. The lodge is situated right in the center of the tenure, so we can go in whatever direction offers the best skiing / riding.
11. What would you change if you could?
Nothing, really. But I would like to add another lodge…
12. You fly the A-Star B2, in three groups of 5, correct?
14. How many down days do you average in a season?
15. What packages are you offering for 2011?
4, 5 and 7-day
16. How does Last Frontier cater to heli-boarders, too?
Yes. We are able to mix skiers and riders with no problems. Our terrain does not require long run outs (aka death by flatness). 20-25% of our guests are heli-snowboarders.
Is there anything else you would like to add about Last Frontier Heliskiing at Bell 2?
I like to say that if God created terrain and climate for heliskiing, this is it.
Thanks, George. I hope to get up there to make some turns with you this winter and take advantage of the Lodge 2 Lodge Safari package, 2 group of 5 skiing from both lodges in one week!
And thanks for lunch!
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