Avalanches are the original ski run cutters, and when the slope's angle is consistent, the clearings left by avalanches tend to be parallel sided. When the angle increases, the avalanche paths narrow, and when the angle decreases the paths tend to widen like water flowing in a river. The angle of the valley walls in the Cariboos is so consistent that mountains are striped with avalanche paths running parallel to each other like the teeth of a giant comb for as far as the eye can see – even from a helicopter. Each of the paths can be skied, and on many of them a runaway ski following the fall line unchecked will end up right at the pickup.
The terrain of the Cariboos is an amalgamation of all the different kinds of features that make up great skiing: the long, powder-cloaked old-growth forests, steep serpentine ridgelines, friendly glades, rock-edged couloirs, undulating glaciers, planar mountain faces and chaotic combinations of all of the above.
So massive and obvious is the ski potential in the Cariboos that if there had been no sawmill camp in the Bugaboos to serve as an ideal base for launching the operation, heli-skiing in Canada would likely have started in the Cariboos. The mountainsides just beg to be skied. There are numerous safe and obvious drop-offs and pickups for the helicopter, and with the smaller craft of the day, the location of the present Cariboo Lodge would have allowed more efficient access to varied ski terrain than the precipitous, albeit incomparably spectacular Bugaboos. Thus, when the demand for heli-skiing exceeded the capacity of the Bugaboos, it was an easy decision where to ski next.
For much of the timber used in the construction, they took trees from the building site and hauled them to a sawmill, where the logs were hewn into boards and beams. Then the wood was hauled back to the building site and used in the construction. The beautiful woodwork in the lodge is made of trees harvested from the very land where the lodge now sits.
From Bugaboo Dreams by Topher Donahue
Get your copy of Bugaboo Dreams today.