The Monashee Range in British Columbia in all her glory. Photo: Jeremy Allen
Canadian heli skiing has a rich history dating back to the 1960’s, when Austrian mountain guides first teamed up with local geologists searching for gold to bring skiers to the high peaks of Alberta and BC. One of those mountain guides, Mike Wiegele, quickly realized the potential for world-class powder skiing in BC’s Monashee Range.
Mike Wiegele's operation is world class. Photo: Jeremy Allen
After skiing in places all across North America from frozen eastern Canada to the sunny slopes of California, Wiegele settled on basing a new heli operation in Blue River, BC. In fact, the area was known by locals at the time for being too snowy a place to live, but for Wiegele, the 30-plus feet of average yearly snowfall were an asset, not a liability.
Heed the call of the British Columbia backcountry. Photo: Jeremy Allen
From the beginning, Mike Wiegele Heli Skiing was not only fully immersed in, but acting as a trend setter for ski culture.
Whether you carve figure eights or your own line, Wiegele's has terrain for you. Photo: Jeremy Allen
In 1972, legendary ski filmmaker Warren Miller agreed to come up to Canada with a camera, which eventually turned into a long-running relationship producing classic ski films like Seven Days in Paradise and many more. That heritage and expertise shone through this past winter when Mike Wiegele Heliskiing and TGR teamed up to shoot a segment amongst the 1.5 million acres of terrain on offer.
En route to the goods. Photo: Jeremy Allen
In early 2023, a crew of TGR athletes set out to explore the legendary stashes of the Monashee and Cariboo Ranges with the help of Mike Wiegele’s guides and pilots. Nick McNutt, Tom Ritsch, and Alex Armstrong made their way to interior BC and were treated to the trip of a lifetime.
Wiegele's terrain has something for everyone. Photo: Jeremy Allen
Mcnutt is no stranger to these parts, helping TGR newcomers Armstrong (from Ontario) and Ritsch (from Austria) quickly get comfortable in the terrain, dropping into dreamy pillow lines, big alpine faces, neck-deep pow, and some of the best treeskiing in the world. The three athletes had never ridden together before, but the stoke was infectious.
McNutt has a flair for air and style. Photo: Jeremy Allen
“I already knew Nick was good, but it was so sick to see how he approaches stuff - he's super down to help out the other riders, and he’s been a great help with some things. He's a good guy to have on a trip, that's for sure,” shares Ritsch about his first days riding with his new friends.
Where's Alex Armstrong? Photo: Jeremy Allen
Of course, riding and filming in terrain like this takes a whole lot more preparation, and wouldn’t be possible without the guides and staff - not to mention the luxuries of staying at one of the many Mike Wiegele properties in the valley, complete with world-class food, lodging, and amenities.
Tom Ritsch floats with joy. Photo: Jeremy Allen
Ritsch, who arguably has the best job in the world, was blown away by the guide staff, sharing that, “Our guide Bob is a legend. He's so calm, he's focused, and he's also so stoked all the time, watching us skiing. Then he gets a couple lines in for himself, which is awesome to see! It's just good talking to him too, you know, because he's got such an interesting occupation. It's got to be one of the sickest jobs out there to be a heli guide. And can you imagine, you get to go skiing all the time?”
Army slaying the fresh goods. Photo: Jeremy Allen
As the trip wrapped up, Mike Wiegele Heli Skiing’s nearly 60 years of heritage shone through. It’s clear this operation is as dialed as can be - providing memories and the trip of a lifetime for these three seasoned athletes. Catch the full segment in TGR’s 2023 film Legend Has It.