Mike Wiegele had a problem, how to get skiers to come all the way to Blue River, BC to partake in a novel activity they had never done. I’m not talking about skiing, I am talking about helicopter access skiing.
You see, back in 1965, Wiegele along with Hans Gmoser and Jim McConkey were the very first people to use a helicopter to access high alpine peaks with the intention of skiing down them. It was like love at first sight, the men knew they had uncovered the best possible way to ski big mountains and fresh powder snow. From that moment Wiegele knew what he had to do – he was going to build an all encompassing heli skiing empire.
Weigele is the type of man who takes life by the horns. When he was just a young lad of 14
years, he was living in rural Austria. Wiegele dreamt of skiing but his family had no money to buy their son skis. So what did he do? He grabbed his axe, cut down an ash tree in the backyard, and carved himself a set of skis. The only way to be a lifelong legend is by starting young, and Wiegele was just getting started.
He first arrived in Canada in 1959 and spent his first few years traveling throughout North
America teaching skiing. Based on his exploration of the land, Weigele knew that he was not going to find the perfect heli ski tenure in the lower 48. He began questing through eastern BC where the mountains are vast and the snow was deep – eventually he found the town of Blue River, BC.
In the late 1960’s Weigele began exploring the caribou mountains on foot and by air. But, it wasn’t until studying historical weather and snowfall data that he knew he’d found his zion. The vast mountains of Blue River yielded snow-pocalyptic conditions. It was perfect. The only downside was its remoteness, and by remote, I mean middle of nowhere.
This brings us back to Wiegele’s initial problem: How to get skiers to come all the way to Blue River, BC to partake in a novel and intimidating method of skiing? He knew that heli skiing would be revolutionary, but aside from his buddies Hans and Jim, no one else had connected the dots. He needed someone who could expose heli skiing to people all over the world, and do it in a way that captured just how epic the experience could be. He needed Warren Miller.
“If you don’t go heli-skiing this year, you’ll just be one year older when you do!” A classic Warren Miller catch phrase.
Mutualism is the association between organisms of two different species in which each benefits. Much like a bee’s relationship to a flower, Mike and Warren needed each other.
Miller was the most famous ski filmmaker of his day and his craft depended on his ability to
capture cutting edge, high quality content. On the other hand Wiegele’s grand idea needed
exposure to a mainstream market. He needed heli-skiing to be on every skier’s bucket list.
Wiegele launched his first commercial heli-ski tour in 1970 and wasted no time before inviting his old aquaninance Warren Miller to come out and shoot for his upcoming film. This is when things really took off for Wiegele World.
It became common knowledge that Wiegele’s tenure is home to some of the finest skiing in the world, and Miller had a huge role to play in his success. You see, Wiegele World has been featured in 26 Warren Miller films over the past 30 years – securing the mainstream exposure he needed.
Warren Miller loved Wiegele World. The beautiful log chalets, luxurious dining experiences, and an Austrian-styled apres, Wiegele had created something special. Aside from good vibes,
Wiegele has instilled an industry leading culture of mountain safety and meticulous weather
observation. Sure, comfort and safety is an added bonus but what it really boils down to is the skiing, and Wiegele World is the best around.
Wiegele World by the Numbers
● 60 feet annual average snowfall
● Over 1,000 peaks in the tenure
● 1,500,000 acres of terrain
● Colder temps due to the northern latitude results in light fluffy pow
Warren Miller was a man who skied every corner of the globe but it was here, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere BC, that Miller’s family chose to spread his ashes. This was a true testament to the duo’s mutualistic relationship and long lived friendship.