Seeking a relaxing fireside sojourn in a luxe lodge to sip the afternoon away over a game of cribbage? Or maybe to dip your boots into heliskiing for the first time? Well, dear reader, keep swiping left.
Northern Escape’s 1.7 million-acre tenure exists solely to be gulped up greedily by pow-hungry steep chasers. Beginners and lodgelubbers need not apply.
Sure, the amenities are top notch—everything you could ask for, really. And no, there’s no official moratorium on board games. But if owner and veteran guide John Forrest has his way, guests will be too wiped from descending some of the most raw, steep and deep terrain in Canada to do much more than catch a few Zs before the next round.
There are no down days here, thanks to Northern Escape‘s reserve snowcat fleet, a welcome amenity in an area that welcomes some of the country’s most relentless storm systems.
“With our snowcat backup program, we’re able to keep you skiing in some of the worst weather imaginable,” says Forrest. “We can get you out in weather you could never heliski in, during storms, before the snow settles. It’s the best down day activity you’ll ever have—far better than playing Go Fish in the lodge.”
Located a mere sprint from Terrace airport in remote northwestern British Columbia, the area gets battered with record-breaking snowfall year-after-year.
“Because of our northern latitude, plus the Pacific location, the moist weather coming off the ocean hits the cold mountain air—and that’s where the magic happens,” explains Forrest. “We get a tremendous amount of snow—some of the deepest, driest powder you can imagine.
“The terrain is really big, wide open and remote,” he continues. “It’s one of the few places you can really be away from it all. It’s real wilderness up here.”
To be sure, this untamed expanse is not for amateurs.
“We ski what I like to call naturally aggressive terrain,” says Forrest. “The vast majority of our clients have already heliski’d before, but are looking for something more—and that’s often bigger, wilder terrain.”
Forrest started his first cat skiing operation in the Selkirks at 21, and has since helped launch ski programs for no less than three major cat and heli operators in Western Canada (as well a couple in Chile). A cat and heli guide for over 30 years, Forrest conceived Northern Escape 15 years ago, with the idea to create an easily accessible, but wild, northern experience.
“We wanted a place where you still had that remote feeling, but that guests could get to a lot easier than most other operations,” says Forrest.
“These days, people’s value of time has gotten far greater,” he says. “If people only have time for a seven-day holiday, they shouldn’t have to spend three of those days traveling to and from the lodge.”
Northern Escape’s two lodges—replete with the obligatory hot tubs, saunas, indoor and outdoor bars—house a maximum of 28 people between them. The resort’s team of six chefs delivers gourmet meals of locally sourced food. And testament to the operation’s family vibe and skiers-for-skiers ethos, most of the lodge’s guides have been with the company since Day 1.
“It’s quite intimate,” says Forrest. “Small group helicopter skiing ensures our guests get as much vertical as possible, with average groups skiing 8,000 metres of vertical a day.
“I ski every day, and I still guide every day, but what really makes the difference when it comes to what makes a good day is the people,” says Forrest. “I get to meet all kinds of people from all walks of life, and take them to places the average person will never get to experience. That’s truly the best part for me.”
NORTHERN ESCAPE HELI-SKIING
Phone: Toll Free in North America (866) 619-3184
International: +1 250 615-3184
Location: Terrace, B.C.
Nearest major airport: Terrace, B.C. (only 30 minutes away)
Skiable terrain: Over 1.7 million acres
Average snowfall: 4,000 cm
Years of operation: 14