After a few days on the road with early morning tours and late nights in the RV, we arrived at the mythical Mike Wiegele’s Helicopter Skiing lodge. If life on the road had taught us anything, it was to appreciate a warm shower and hot meal when we could get one… As we settled in, we began to hear rumors around the lodge that we had just stumbled upon the fountain of youth… what exactly did they mean? We would shortly find out.
Located in Blue River, BC, Mike Wiegele’s is a small slice of heaven for anyone with a passion for skiing. Originally, Mike had set up the operation an hour north of Blue River, but after hearing of some Norwegians living in the alpine of Blue River he changed his mind — “There was one Norwegian family people said, who’d built a hut high up in the alpine and were avid ski tourers…” As fate would have it, this Norwegian family had been collecting notes on weather patterns for the past 34 years… the result was an annual snow fall of more than 915cm (30ft) per season….
Everything I’ve done in my life was done for the love of skiing — Mike Wiegele
Wiegele was a ski pioneer in British Columbia throughout the 60’s and officially established the operation in 1970. The Austrian lived for the mountains and skiing. In a 2002 interview for Ski Magazine, he says “Everything I’ve done in my life was done for the love of skiing.” He continues, “Unfortunately that first year yielded few paying customers. That was OK by me. That way, I could take the time to get to know the mountains and they could take the time to get to know me. That’s my philosophy: The mountains are living things. I wanted to show them that I meant no harm. That I came to them with respect.”
And now the three of us found ourselves on the very same mountains some 50 years later. With two planks and enough passion to ski every second we could, we joined our gracious guides for some of the best “cold smoke” turns of our life. It was actually impossible in those moments to not laugh out of pure joy—and with a wink one of the guides looked us and said “there you go… the fountain of youth.”