Interview by Tom Jackson
We had a chance to visit with Scott Newsome, one of the new owners of a hidden gem in the boutique heliskiing world – Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing and Heli-Boarding. Just 20 minutes outside of Revelstoke, BC, EPH offer Unlimited Vertical in 3 groups of 4, with a max capacity of just 12 guests. We talked with Scott as they are gearing up for this season.
1. Eagle Pass Heliboarding & Heliskiing Canada – Under New Management. Who is on the new team, Scott?
The new team consists of Scott Newsome, Matt Pinto, Michael Wood, and Craig Borgland. Scott and Matt are both guides, Scott is a snowboard guide and Matt is a ski guide. Michael and Craig are both from Calgary, Michael is a snowboarder and Craig skis.
2. What changes are you making?
We have changed our main lodge location to just south of Revelstoke at Echo Bay, along the shores of the Columbia River. We also offer luxury private skiing from Sparkling Hill Resort near Vernon B.C., and day skiing from Silver Star Mountain Resort. Both of these programs are close by our southern tenured area.
3. Adding “Heliboarding” to your name makes it a mouthful. I know a couple of you are riders. What will you be doing to cater to heli-boarding?
We are the only heliski company in Canada that has both certified ski and snowboard guides. Guides ride whatever the guests ride.
4. Of the three in/near Revelstoke, Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing and Heliboarding (EPH) is the only boutique operator. Three groups of four, right?
We prefer to call it small group Heliskiing, a boutique is something you may find in Paris. [Mais Non!] At our Echo Bay Lodge, we use a powerful B2 Astar which can service up to 3 groups of 4 guests accompanied by their guides.
5. How many guests can you accommodate total?
At Echo Bay Lodge, we can accommodate up to 12 guests. At Silver Star Mountain Resort: 10 guests, and at Sparkling Hill Resort: 8 guests plus their non skiing spouses.
6. The other two Revelstoke heliskiing operators were there first. Was there enough good terrain to put together you tenure?
Yes! Back in the day when the first heliski companies first staked their claim on the terrain around Revelstoke, they focused on the drainages leading into the Columbia River Watershed. This a large area and includes the Selkirk and Monashee Mountain ranges. On the western side of the Monashees, is the salmon bearing Shuswap River. Our terrain runs along the western divide of the Monashee Mountains in this drainage and our area is in excess of 1200 square kilometers, a mix of high alpine, TL and awesome old growth tree skiing. Our terrain runs north and south approximately 100 km in length.
7. EPH is more about the remote lodge, catering to experienced heliskiers and riders. No one-day bucket listers allowed?
At Echo Bay Lodge, we encourage our guests to come and stay at our comfortable lodge during their heliski vacation. If the lodge is not full, wedo allow day skiers to join in on the heliski only. As we know there are plenty of people interested in getting a taste of heliskiing, we offer day skiing from Silver Star Mountain Resort nearby Vernon, B.C.
8. What is the lodge like?
Echo Bay lodge is 100% off the grid (micro hydro) and is located along the shores of the Columbia River, yet easily accessed along HWY 23 just
south of Reveltoke. The lodge has 8 rooms, a dining common area, games room and bar, and two hot tubs outside.
9. Do most guests fly into Kelowna?
Most of our guests fly into Kelowna International Airport and the drive to Echo Bay Lodge is 2.5 hours. There is a helishuttle available as well should guests wish not to drive. Silver Star Mountain Resort is one hour from the airport, and guests skiing from Sparkling Hill Resort are picked up via helicopter from the airport and a short 5 minute flight lands them at the world class spa and hotel.
10. If the weather grounds the chopper, can guest catski or hit the Revelstoke Resort?
Down days do happen, although not a common event at Eagle Pass Heliskiing. When they do, it usually means it is snowing very hard. A day of skiing at the nearby ski resort is a great way to still get out skiing everyday of your trip, and it is usually a powder day at the resort.
11. What packages are you offering for 2012?
We offer: small group multi day packages at Echo Bay Lodge, Day skiing from Silver Star Mountain Resort, and Luxury private
heliskiing and spa vacations from Sparkling Hill Resort (spouses stay for free)
12. What is the average vertical for a week at Eagle Pass Heliskiing and Heliboarding?
It depends on the group and the week, but in a typical week, guests ski anywhere from 80,000 to 200,000 vertical feet. We offer unlimited vertical from Echo Bay Lodge, but we always put priority on the quality of the skiing/boarding as opposed to just sheer vertical. A big week above 100,000 vertical usually means fits guests, good conditions and maybe some good weather as well. This means the helicopter is landing higher and we are probably skiing to the valley floor. Some of our runs are in excess of 5000 feet, big vertical weeks are always a big favorite among guests AND our guides.
13. What snowboards will you be offering to heliboarders?
We are proud to be able to offer to our snowboard guests the use ofTrapper Snowboards, which are locally handcrafted here in Revelstoke, using local wood. Scott Newsome is one of their team riders and involved inthe R&D of this awesome new local product. Trapper designs and builds powder boards and split boards.
14. You also have a super-fancy lodge (for former Google employees and trust funders). Tell us about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, please.
Sparkling Hill Resort is located a short 5 minute flight from the Kelowna International Airport. This world class spa and wellness hotel is one of it’s kind. EPH is offering helisking from this location and it is one of the few locations where you can bring your non skiing spouse to enjoy all that the spa has to offer. There are numerous spas, saunas, -110 cold sauna (1st in North America), and from March on, guests can also enjoy the many wineries in the area, heli ski in the morning and maybe golf in the afternoon……anything is possible from Sparkling Hill Resort.
15. Is there anything else you would like to add about Eagle Pass Heliskiing and Heliboarding?
Our entire team at EPH are looking forward to meeting all of our guests this coming winter to share an unforgettable experience both on and off the snow.
I hope to get up there to make some turns with you soon.