Before there was heli-skiing, backcountry skiing meant long hikes and untouchable terrain. Thanks to Mike Wiegele, helicopter power replaced man power which expanded the backcountry and opened up a whole new world of terrain filled with endless powder shots and limitless vertical.
The heli-skiing pioneer grew up in Austria before his search for the best snow took him to British Columbia to start what would become one of the most successful heli-ski companies in operation, Mike Wiegele Heli Skiing.
Not only did Wiegele enable professional skiers, boarders, and enthusiasts alike to ski some of the most sought-after powder in the world, he is also credited with setting safety standards in avalanche risk mitigation while influencing and developing groundbreaking changes in ski technology, like the first powder ski.
The new film, “Call Me Crazy: The Legend of Mike Wiegele,” follows Wiegele's journey from his humble roots in rural Austria to guiding high-profile celebrities and skiers through Canadian powder.
Without a doubt, Wiegele was a visionary. When he was 30 years old, Wiegele packed his bags and moved around Canada and the United States in search of powder. In 1970, Wiegele settled in Blue River which is right in the middle of the biggest snow belt that goes across British Columbia and receives over 60 feet of annual snowfall.
After many days spent hiking and skiing with Hans Gmoser and Jim McConkey, the trio decided that helicopters would be a faster way to access the terrain. Despite the many people who thought that was a crazy idea, Wiegele went on to start Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing.
Read more about Mike Wiegele: Legend of the Fall Line
“It’s the best skiing in the world,” said Howard Ironstone, the first customer of MWHS and heli-skiing enthusiast. “You can’t explain it until you are up there and skiing it, and breathing it, and smelling it.”
Check out: Mike Wiegele's Heli on Earth
This year marks 50 years since MWHS was founded and 80 year old Wiegele is still hard at work developing new areas for skiing and inspiring new generations of skiers to push the boundaries and follow their passion.