Island Lake Lodge

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The post Feb.19,2018 appeared first on Island Lake Catskiing.

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Staff Profile – Katie Hamar

February 15, 2018 - 11:36

Katie Hamar is the Sales and Event Coordinator for the lodge. Her professional and detail-oriented personality helps ensure all our events go off to the best of our abilities. She also leads our green sustainability committee and has a passion for mountain culture and the Island Lake property. Her positive and happy energy rubs off on all the staff around her and her smile is infectious. She is a valuable asset to the company. Here is a little interview we did with her recently.

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick.

When did you move to Fernie and what brought you here in the first place?

I came for the 2008/2009 winter season to visit my sister and her now-husband who had moved here a few years prior. I promptly fell in love with the mountain lifestyle and officially moved to BC the following September; to Cranbrook where I would complete my BBA over the next few years. I wanted to finish my degree while living as close to Fernie as possible and Cranbrook was the best option. I spent most weekends and summers here. In May 2013, when I was done school, I officially became a Fernieite.

How long have you been working at Island Lake Lodge?

I started working for ILL in June 2013.

Which jobs have you been in for the company?  

I worked as a Guest Services Representative at the lodge front desk my first few years. When I was given a few extra responsibilities, a job title of Special Projects Coordinator was added. During this time, I also assisted Nicole, the then-Event Coordinator, with weddings. When Nicole moved away, I applied and got the job as Sales & Event Coordinator. I started working in this role in October 2016.

What is your favourite part of the job?  

I love working with people, both the public and ILL’s awesome staff. It’s rewarding to see the lifespan of an event from sale to planning to implementation. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy to see happy couples on their wedding day and I feel honored to be a part. I also like the challenge of having several simultaneously-moving parts to an event, the organization that that entails, and problem-solving. Plus, you absolutely cannot beat the view.

What is your favourite hiking trail and why?  

I love them all but I like Big White for the views and exhilarating scramble and the new trail, Goldilocks, for showcasing a new perspective. If you only have a couple hours, Tamarack Viewpoint is my favourite option for an incredible view of the lodge and Lizard Range. Heiko’s Trail is the ultimate Fernie trail. I can’t decide!

What is something people might not realize about your job?  

When I started in this role, I was surprised by how much goes into selling and planning large group events and tour operations. There are numerous steps to take and questions to field long before the group arrives. I also had no idea how many inquiries ILL actually receives. And, maybe this isn’t a surprise, but I continue to be so happy to hear how much people really love the lodge and how satisfied they are with their experiences there.

Do you prefer summer or winter these days? 

I am a summer lover but you also can’t beat Island Lake on snowy winter day. The excitement is palpable. It’s all good up there.

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Categories: Member organisations

Powder for Valentines day

February 14, 2018 - 15:25

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History – 1874 – Prospector and Trapper Michael Phillips

February 13, 2018 - 13:38

1874 – Prospector and trapper Michael Phillips was the first European to explore Island Lake and the Cedar Valley.  He named Lizard Creek for the “little green lizards” he found at the head waters. They were actually Long Toed Salamanders and the mountain range was later named the same. He is also said to be the first European to traverse Crowsnest Pass and the Elk River Valley.

Read a fascinating interview with him by The Fernie Free Press from 1905:  FFP – 1905-06 Michael Phillips Interview


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Daily Photo

February 7, 2018 - 14:55

Stellar day above the clouds. Photo by @markgallup

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Scot Schmidt Profile

January 28, 2018 - 16:38

Scot Schmidt is one of those quiet reserved guys who does not draw a lot of attention in a crowd. He tends to be the laid-back people-watcher in the corner. This is in contrast to the place he holds in the history of the snow industry and to many other professional athletes at his level. If you are a non-skier or if you happen to have been living in a cave for the last 25 years, Scot has the distinct industry title of “The Original Freeskier.” He is recognized by most as being the first big mountain pro skier who managed to make a living jumping off stuff and shredding powder. Back in an age when ski company sponsorships revolved around alpine racers, ski ballet and moguls, Scot sought a different path and defined a niche that has since become the standard for pro ski athletes around the world. Part of his legacy was created and documented at Island Lake Lodge, where he became a shareholder, director and regular Lodge fixture.

Part of the path Scot carved in the early ‘90s was through his ski movie segments. At a time when household VCRs were exponentially increasing the reach of  “Ski Porn,” snow video stars were able to bring the “radness” right into your living room. This changed the game. Freeskiing pros had a medium, locations became household names and filmmakers could make some money. After filming several movies with Warren Miller, Scot hooked up with a young upstart filmmaker with a unique perspective on the world. Greg Stump captured Scot’s effortless big mountain style, added cutting-edge music—all while following a more “interesting” plot-line than the average ski movie. Scot’s laid back, friendly style not only looked good on film but probably contributed to why he has been on The North Face ski team for 30 years now. In an industry full of egos, short careers and overhype, Scot is still skiing 100 days a season and not taking himself too seriously.

Scot is still a regular at the Lodge and comes at least once a season. It is most likely that he has skied more days at Island Lake than anyone other than some of the long-term ski guides. He can still be found relaxing by the river rock fireplace in the Bear Lodge after a good day on the slopes, quietly contemplating and taking in the après scene.

A few quotes from others: 

“Scot definitely pioneered the role of pro freeride skier in North America; he basically helped create the career I have. He also opened the North American industry’s eye to the potential of freeriding, plus he is a total shredder and pushed the progression and style of the sport.”  – Eric Hjorleifson; Pro Skier

“Scott was a huge part of starting the freeskiing movement in the ‘90s and was basically the man to watch during that time… I loved watching his pow segments from the Greg Stump movies!” – Ian McIntosh; pro skier

“I think Scot was the Kelly Slater or Shawn White of his day… His style was the main thing that impacted the industry and it’s still alive in a few skiers today. Proper style indeed.”  – Eric Crosland, Sherpas Cinema


Photo: Mark Gallup


Photo: Aaron Whitfield


Photo: Mike McPhee


Photo: Mark Gallup


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Categories: Member organisations

Powder Hound and Kitty cat

January 24, 2018 - 12:43
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Craig Kelly by Mark Gallup

January 20, 2018 - 10:12

Craig was known as a world champion. A legendary snowboarder. The Master. An Icon.

After nearly 15 years of hotel rooms, trains, planes, and automobiles. From Greenland to Chile and everything in between. Craig Kelly to me was a confidant, a brother, and a friend.

To me, he was “Smelly Kelly” who never used deodorant. He always farted when he woke up in the morning. I could never turn my back on him because he was a trickster. He introduced me to avocados and he loved eating butter tarts when he came to Canada.

One time when he returned to Fernie after a trip to Japan, he walked in the door and I said, “How was Japan?”. He said, “You treat me like a rock star, I’ll act like a rock star”, and that was it. We just went up to Island Lake and did our thing. He breathed easy and was content. He was back where he belonged.

His transition from competitor to backcountry soul rider was natural. I think an important element of his plan was to find balance between making a living and managing his public image. Island Lake was the perfect platform for his transformation. In interviews, he often talked about balance in his riding but balance in everything was paramount for him; a life lesson he continues to teach me today.

– Mark Gallup

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Staff Profile – Marie-Hélène Jodoin

January 18, 2018 - 15:10

MH, as she is affectionally known around the lodge, has been a staff staple for over a decade. She is one of the seasoned snowcat driver team – driving snowcats for guests in search of powder.  This job requires a high level of confidence and experience as the snowcats drive on snow roads in some very challenging conditions… in all weather. In summer, MH is part of the Island Lake trail crew, which maintains and builds hiking and bike trails on the property.  This past year the all female trail crew completed a brand new alpine trail called Goldie Locks. The trail was very difficult to build as it navigates a high mountain pass, builder fields and steep terrain. In addition the crew had to hike up the to trial in the alpine every day. Whether winter or summer MH is an integral part of the lodge team and her infectious laugh, sense of humour and positive attitude make everyone around her smile.

Here a few questions and answers with MH

  • Where did you grow up? I grew up in Montréal, Qc.
  • When did you move to Fernie and what brought you? My dad who travelled a lot had a framed aerial picture of Vancouver and it’s surroundings mountains in the living room.  I always looked at it knowing I needed to explore that place on earth, so I did.  After hitchhiking for 2 months in British Colombia with my best friend I knew that BC was the place I needed to comeback too.  Fernie seemed liked a quiet town with a good average snowfall.  I moved to Fernie 14 years ago
  • How long have you been working at Island Lake Lodge? I’ve been working at Island Lake for 11 years.
  • What do you like the most about driving snowcats? I love the different challenges we can have with driving and blading depending on the type and amount of snow and the type of slope.  You can get stuck, you can dig yourself into a hole quickly, you can drive in a total white out or out on a narrow road.   It’s such a powerful machine that you have to drive with finesse.
  •  How is it to drive the new Pisten Bully Snowcats? They feel pretty darn good and smooth.
  • What is something that people might not realize about your job? You need to be able to drive yes, but you also need a good sense of orientation, of keeping calm and in control in stressfull situations and to be in a good physical shape as we do a lot of lifting.  We lift skis 17 000 times per season from in and out of the ski box.
  • How long were you and the trail crew working on our new hiking trail?  We have been working on the new hiking trail Goldie Locks for 2 summers, finishing it this Fall just before the snow fully covered the terrain.
  • Do you prefer summer or winter these days? I don’t prefer summer or winter.  I love them both for all the different fun things you can do.


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Categories: Member organisations

Pow turns with pals

January 12, 2018 - 13:21

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Friends on a Pow Day

January 12, 2018 - 12:52

There are indeed friends on a powder day! Our pals from The North Face dropped by in late December, 2017 for some friendly pow laps in our terrain. Watch athletes John Collinson, Rob Heule, Austin Smith and Alexandra Armstrong shred Island Lake for the camera of Dylan Siggers. The North Face


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January 8, 2018 - 11:17

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Epic waist deep pow!

December 22, 2017 - 18:43

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Winter of our Content

December 19, 2017 - 16:20

Shot entirely at Island Lake Lodge Catskiing in Fernie BC – Winter of our Content is a story of weather, powder skiing, terrain, inspiration and pushing your personal limits. Watch some of the top skiers, snowboarders and wing-suit athletes in the world explore the Lizard Range of the Rocky Mountains.  Athletes include: Nick McNutt, Lucas Debari, Rob Heule, Dash Longe, Tim Durtschi, Dane Tudor, Ben Ogilvie and Trace Cooke. Narrated by Chuck Ragan. #skibc #ferniestoke #explorebc


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The Island Lake Photo Team

December 13, 2017 - 15:58

Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words. Here at Island Lake, we have some of the best professional photographers in the region: Mark Gallup, Matt Kuhn and Nick Nault. Each of them has a unique eye and aesthetic that helps to capture the essence of our surroundings. The backdrops are grand, but action sport photography may be the most difficult type. Shooting skiing and snowboarding through the trees with ever-changing light and weather takes years of practice to reach proficiency.  On one day of each tour, one of our pros accompany the guests out into the terrain and capture a few hundred images which are displayed at the end of the day during Après.

Mark Gallup @markgallup – If you saw any ski or snowboard magazine in the ‘90s, you have no doubt seen Mark’s work. He is the only photographer to ever be staff at both Powder and Transworld magazines. He has travelled the world and has had thousands of photos published. His many photos of some of the industries top icons helped put Island Lake on the map. Now based in Fernie BC, we are honoured to have him as one of our in-house staff photographers.

Matt Kuhn @mkuhnphoto – Matt is the boisterous oddball of the photography team; an avid snowboarder and snowmobiler in the winter, paired with motorbikes and random adventures all summer. He’s been in Fernie for 16 years and has created a business through his stylised photography, earning his living from the profession for the past 8 years.
Nick Nault @nick.nault – Nick grew up with a passion for skiing and the magazines, videos and other media that surrounded it. After moving to Fernie and taking up mountain biking, Nick quickly grew to love all the other aspects of outdoor recreation as well. While he started by just casually snapping photos of his adventures with a point-and-shoot, it wasn’t long before his casual hobby became another passion. Over the years, Nick spent less time at his ‘real job’ and more time behind the lens and getting paid for it. Currently, Nick is a full-time videographer and photographer, specializing primarily in action sports. He has worked at Island Lake since 2012 as a ski photographer where he is able to combine two of his passions into a day of work. Nick has also helped film many of Island Lake’s videos.

Photo: Matt Kuhn

Photo: Mark Gallup

Photo: Nick Nault

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December 4, 2017 - 14:27

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