Jane with her "sink-into-snow" boots.
Today our goal was to find a helicopter and take a tour of the Rockies in it. We had a brochure and a phone number. But they weren’t answering - or were incredibly busy. So we drove. Valemount is back in British Columbia and the base of Mount Robson Helitours. It took us a while to find their operation, but it was in the obvious place right where there are two large helicopter company signs (neither which say Mount Robson Helitours). So we went in and the place was shut up tight with a few cars around and no-one in sight. Oh well…
From our last tour through here, we met a guy called Mike Wiegele who ran a heli-skiing outfit and I had also seen what he’d done with the place since on a recent Warren Miller ski film - so that was my next target.
If there’s a Heaven on Earth…
…then this place could be it. It’s not widely advertised as accommodation, and the only thing that gives this place away is a reasonably large sign saying “Mike Wiegele Heli-Skiing Resort” out front…which doesn’t really explain what is well hidden behind groves of pine trees.
Jane with her "not-sink-in-snow" boots.
We rocked up to the front office and asked if we could get on a helicopter. The front office is a massive log cabin structure and there are further log cabins all about the place with something of a Bavarian feel to it. We could be in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Poland…maybe even Canada. The girls are ogling at the beauty of the place and the question gets asked…”how much to stay here?”. Oh…about $170 per night per room. SOLD! We’ll take two!
It turns out that each chalet has 5 bedrooms, and as we were the only people in our whole chalet, they let us also access the common area of the chalet. This gave us access to a kitchen, dining table, lounge setting, another cable tv with 400 channels, open fireplace with lots of really flammable timber, and extra bathroom and free laundry facilities (but we’d just done all our laundry in Jasper 2 nights ago).
We also got known as “The Walk Ins”. Apparently most people who come here know of it by word of mouth or through the Warren Miller ski films. They also advertise a lot in German magazines. But for people to just
Wayne @ River
Checking it out...
show up out of the blue and get a room is almost unheard of. But here we were - very lucky indeed.
As we were walking around the resort taking in all the beauty, Jane was sinking deeply into the snow and general finding the going hard. So we went and got some snowshoes from the resort equipment centre. It’s well stocked and run by some really nice guys who have infinite patience and take the time to explain things well. And the snowshoes are complimentary for resort guests…bonus!
With snowshoes on, we set off…everywhere! The bloke said you just walk…and we did…everywhere! In a matter of minutes we had tracked up pretty much most of the pristine white powder snow between the resort office and our chalet (right at the extreme end of the resort…nice and quiet!). It was so easy to move around! I felt a bit guilty for putting great bit footprints in some of the other guests postcard views from their chalets…but then again…they had helicopters and we didn’t.
That pretty much sums up the next 2 days. We snowshoed our little hearts out until it was officially check-out time. Wayne
Sun and Snow
Perfect weather was our companion
and I headed off into the neighbouring forest and campground and went where clearly no man had gone before...however plenty of wildlife had. There were all sorts of interesting animal tracks in the snow. It was interesting to see rabbit tracks, big padded paws that somehow managed to keep the rabbit on top of the deep soft snow. I would have thought one great jump for rabbit means one great instant burrow.
We finished up the trek with some extreme snowshoeing, climbing the ridiculous...the usual. Writing a happy new year message on the roof of a building for someone to find that night perhaps and returning all five sets of shoes in one go to Rene at the equipment centre. I suspect his surname might have been Wiegele too...he had the demeanor of someone who owns the place...generous, understanding and knows what his guests need.
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