Behind The Scenes on Zac Moxley’s latest video at Silvertip Heliskiing

words:: Feet Banks photos:: Zachary Moxley

Check the video above…

“I wanted to make something with substance,” says 23-year-old filmmaker Zac Moxley. “I set a goal that in the first three months of 2020 I wanted to do a project for that had meaning.”

article continues below

Moxley was actually on the beach in Bali when he got an email from the team at Silvertip Heliskiiing inviting him, and his mom, to join them for the first session of the season. “They’d had a tonne of snow and no one else had been up there yet,” Moxley says. “The weather looked cold so I knew there’d be deep blower pow… Once I knew my mom could get the time off, I was on the first flight home.”

Established in 1967 as a hunting and fishing lodge, Silvertip is fully off the grid and the most remote lodge in BC.

“Home” for Moxley is Whistler BC, and “mom” is Stephanie Reesor, best known in the Sea to Sky as “Princess Stephanie” for her flamboyant personality, generous spirit and inclination to make every day as crazy-fun as possible.

“I’m biased because she’s my mom,” Moxley admits, “But I do get a lot of people commenting on how amazing and funny she is. It’s like outgoing, but a much more flowery version of outgoing. She likes to shock people and be the life of the party. I’ve definitely never met another mother like her.”

Mom’s Halo. Princess Stephanie appreciates a “sun dog” a light refraction that occurs on very cold, perfect days.

For Moxley, who was enrolled in ski school at the age of 18 months and skied his whole life, taking his mom, a ski instructor and guide in Whistler, to a heliski lodge would be a literal dream come true.

“Two years ago I gave my mother a dreamcatcher, and I asked her to think of ten dreams her and I could go do together over the next ten years. I told her to run wild with it. The first year we went to our friend Simon’s salmon fishing lodge. And this year, a heli lodge was high on her list.”

Princes Stephanie, finding the good stuff.

Moxley grew up skiing, and started his filmmaking career around age 13, filming his friends on the ski hill then rushing home to complete late-night edits that would show up on newschool ski websites the next day. “Skiing has played a huge role in my life—I don’t know where I’d be without it—but it wasn’t really until I was a teenager that I started to realize the sacrifices she made, as a single mom, so I could grow up skiing.”

“I didn’t realize exactly what he was up to while we were at the lodge, I was just so happy to be there, skiing with my kid.”

Situated in the Cariboo Mountains, and surrounded by the pristine wilderness of two Provincial parks, Silvertip is the most isolated and remote heli lodge in British Columbia. “I got there and immediately knew it was gonna be one of the best weeks of my life,” Moxley says. “That was my first time on skis this year and right away snow was flying up over my head. Deep, blower pow. Every day we had some of the best runs of my life and that’s saying a lot—I grew up skipping school to ski on deep days. To get to ski like that with my mom, and then go back to a lodge where she has all the staff laughing and the food is so incredible, the hot tub, the mist steaming up off the lake… it was her happy place and she brought the energy level up for everyone. That’s what she does.”

Liftoff!

And while a chilly cold weather system made for epic powder skiing (See Sidebar), for Moxley, filming a video in -30 posed its own unique challenges. “The drone was having issues, my camera batteries were dying. I would pull my camera out in the middle of a run, get a shot and have everything packed back in the bag in under a minute. We were moving fast, no time to review anything.

Mountain Life: Coast Mountains editor Feet Banks tastes some Silvertip bliss.

I knew I was getting shots but really didn’t know what I had until I got home. But then I formulated a story and began piecing it together and realized I had all these beautiful shots with my mom…its sweet to make something that’s not pure adrenaline or me jumping out of a plane. At the end of the day I’m really happy to have a video that hopefully makes people feel something. This piece has made a few people cry.”

Untouched perfection at Silvertip Heliskiing.

And one of those people was Princess Stephanie herself. “I cried the first 22 times I watched it,” she admits. “I didn’t realize exactly what he was up to while we were at the lodge, I was just so happy to be there, skiing with my kid. We usually ski on Christmas day and maybe one other time a year, so this was the most I’ve skied with him in a while. And that snow and that terrain, the cold weather…it just felt like such an extreme adventure we were on together. Every parent knows how special it is to spend time with your children, and then to go to such an incredible place and make something like this, memories that we can share and revisit for the rest of our lives…there is nothing better.”

“Zach called me a few days ago and said, ‘mom I told you not to share that video yet,’” Reesor says of the preview edit her son sent her. “And I told him, I didn’t share it or send it to anyone, but you know, if someone comes over to the house I might show them on my phone. Then he says, ‘mom, did you really watch the video 128 times?’  Yeah that sounds about right.” —ML

How to Heliski in -30°C

So that you can shred perfect pow better

Cold temps mean cold snow—but also cold toes.

Set on the northeastern shore of Quesnel Lake, Silvertip Lodge is the most remote and wild heliski operation in BC. Operating off the grid, the lodge is heated by wood-fired boilers and it’s not uncommon to see moose wandering the lakeshore outside. This sort of true northern experience sometimes comes with true northern weather conditions, the thermometer at the lodge hit -30°C for Zac and his mom’s trip (with even cooler temps up top).

But those frosty days make for perfect, dry blower powder snow and with unlimited runs per day, staying warm is essential, no one wants to lose the next best run of their life due to frozen fingers or toes. With that in mind, here are a few tips and tricks to staying warm and shredding hard when those arctic outflows hit.

 

1.Heated Boots
No one, not the 55-year-old pow hounds nor the 25-year-old cliff huckers, regrets splurging for heated boots. Bring an extra battery for long days and your toes will love you forever.

2. Hot shots in the Mitts
Yes, mitts are inherently warmer than gloves and with one of those chemical reaction heat packets in there, your digits will stay toasty all day. (Contemporary Hot Shots work much much better than the ones some of us remember from the 80s. They even make thing ones designed for your boots.)

3. Fresh Socks at Lunch
This is a classic Silvertip trick. When the weather is super cold the bird brings you home for a hot lunch (take advantage of the best soups ever!) This is a good time to de-boot, chuck the boots on the warmer/dryers in the equipment roomm and go get a fresh pair of socks (merino wool is always a good call).

4. Window Seat

Insider tip: there are heaters on the floor behind the front seats of the Bell-212 chopper. And they are blasting heat so don’t be afraid to stick a cold down there, reheat some gloves, or (most likely) defrost everyone on your side of the bird’s foggy goggles. Those heaters are essential no matter where you sit and the short time it takes for the Heli to whip you back up into powder paradise will also warm your bones enough to keep you going for another lap.

5. Layers
The first rule of cold weather shredding, this one will be highly personal, everyone runs at a different temperature and depending on your fitness level, that bottomless pow in the trees can heat you up more than you think. The basic recommended set up for -30°C or lower is a baselayer (merino at least 200-wieght), a fleece, a thin down warm layer, and a solid water resistant shell.

6. Balaclava
Worn under your helmet. The best are those with a larger single face hole that you can pull up or down. Airhole make great ones. Be wary of breathing through the small hole in the face protector, It will get wet and freeze and might give you diaper rash on your chin. As well, if you pull your balaclava up so it sits under your goggles some of your breath will get up in there and fog those lenses, just sayin’.

7. Shred Hard
Get your blood pumping and your stoke high. That’s the most fun way to stay warm

 

Comments