Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing is looking to expand into summer operations with heli-hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering and more offerings.
“I guess the last 10 years or even longer, we’ve thought about the possibility of summer operations,” said operations manager Jeff Honig. “In the tourist climate that we have now in Revelstoke, I think summer operations could work quite well. It would complement things that are already here.”
Selkirk Tangiers filed an application with the Integrated Land Management Bureau for a tenure application for a variety of helicopter-accessed summer tourism options. They are hiking, mountain biking, sightseeing, picnicking, mountaineering and via-ferrata.
The application (which can be read at the end of this article) is to provide those activities in four different zones — the Ghost Zone around Ghost Peak southeast of Revelstoke; the Albert Zone around Albert Peak, the Choices Zone on the western border of Glacier National Park, and the Carnes Zone around Carnes Peak north of Revelstoke. The application covers a combined area of more than 20,000 hectares of alpine terrain.
“The proposed tenure includes all the unique terrain required for intended offerings, including high elevation glaciated peaks, rolling sub-alpine meadows, and craggy rock peaks,” the application states.
While Selkirk Tangiers has a winter tenure for the area, they are required to apply for summer tenure.
“We don’t need the vast area we require in the winter for our summer business, so I really tried to pare down the actual zones we need to run the business successfully,” said Honig.
The plan is to have all activities helicopter access only. For hiking, tourists would be flown into remote alpine areas and existing features such as game trails, and rocky surfaces would be used as trails. Minimal trail building would be required, the application says. There are plans for half-day and full-day hikes, with overnight hikes a possibility in the future.
Heli-picnicking would be a less intensive program than hiking. Guests would be flown to a scenic location for a short walk and lunch.
Mountaineering would take place in the Albert and Carnes zones. Guests would be flown to the larger peaks for a day of snow, rock and/or ice climbing to the summit of one of the peaks in the area.
Via ferrata would take a European concept and bring it to Canada. It would involve placing a series of cables, ladders and bridges to the summit of major peaks, allowing almost anyone to summit. They woudl be located on Ghost Peak, Choices Peak, Albert Peak and Carnes Peak.
“These would be heli-accessed,” said Honig. “We’d land at the base and hike the upper ridge feature to a summit. It would be quite an experience. You’d be clipped to a cable the whole time, so you’d be protected from any falls. It would be quite safe.”
Mountain biking would take place along a series of trails around Ghost Peak. The plan is to construct a 50-kilometre trail network in the alpine, with descent options back to the Columbia River valley via the existing Mount Cartier trail and a second trail below Kokanee Bowl on Mount Mackenzie.
“The heli-biking is very exciting because there’s not a lot of products out there like that,” said Honig. “You hear of it in Whistler but it’s not really to the same commercial level that we’d like to take this.”
Selkirk Tangiers hopes to jump on the growing popularity of Revelstoke as a mountain biking destination.
“I think this would be a good extension and additional offering to the stuff we already have here,” said Honig.
There are also plans to construct a cabin east of Ghost Peak that would serve as an emergency shelter and accommodation for overnight hiking, mountain biking and ski touring.
If the application is approved, Selkirk Tangiers hopes to begin offering tours and to start construction of mountain bike trails and a via ferrata up Ghost Peak this fall. The plan is to finish all trail and via ferrata construction by 2019.
How does Revelstoke Mountain Resort tie into all of this? After all, the two companies share the same owners — Northland Properties.
Rob Elliott, the general manager of RMR, said the resort has plans for a mountain biking offering, but it is still a few years off while they focus on winter development.
“There probably won’t be a downhill component,” he said. “Not this year, but year’s following we might explore a gondola ride into the alpine — a Frisby Ridge type ride. Those are possibilities that are within our reach.”