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Powder Highway Revisited: In the Zone at Eagle Pass Heli
Posted on November 22, 2013

Last winter our ski team headed north with Stellar Media to the Powder Highway of interior BC for National Geographic. All month long we’ve been reporting on their deep powder stops along the way, but one of the deepest was at Eagle Pass Heli, an operation co-owned by Eddie Bauer guide Scott Newsome. We’ve posted the video footage of their first stop at Eagle Pass last winter and are re-publishing a report on the experience from our Winter Outfitter Book below. Enjoy. —LYA Editor

In the Zone: Eagle Pass Heli

For the last four decades, Revelstoke, BC, has been at the heart of heliskiing. Since the first Canadian heli op started shuttling skiers to the surrounding peaks in 1971, storm chasers have been drawn to the massive tenures, deep, light snowpacks, and stacked mountain ranges of the Selkirks and Monashees. Carved into a prime spot between two of the original ops is Eagle Pass Heli, the domain of Eddie Bauer snowboard guide Scott Newsome. Newsome earned his spot as owner/operator of Eagle Pass with status as the first fully certified ACMG splitboard guide and an impressive body of work in the heli industry, guiding both for clients and for top-tier pro athletes in his hometown BC peaks. He picked Eddie Bauer First Ascent as the exclusive outerwear supplier for his hard-working guides and his heli op.

In the Eagle Pass location known for constant, hammering storms, Newsome and his guides put our Eddie Bauer First Ascent gear to the daily test, with Newsome personally logging more than 140 days of guiding in our durable Heyburn kit and using the Haines Pack as his daily guide pack. It sounds like paradise, but it’s a tough job, with 16-hour days the norm and long winters with no time off. But it’s also the prime storm-hammered location to test our gear. “I put about 140 days a year on the Haines Pack and it’s really durable,” Newsome says. “It has all the bells and whistles that you need for a good guide’s pack. The Monashees are my office and the Haines Pack is the briefcase I use in the mountains.”

In this office, Newsome and Eagle Pass quickly earned a stellar reputation, with visits from marquee media crews such as Brain Farm, Absinthe Films, Candide Thovex, and Red Bull Media House, as well as an extended visit from Sherpas Cinema last season. This pro influx was due not only to Newsome’s experience guiding for pro athletes and film crews, but also due to Eagle Pass allowing top-tier pros to tap into high-grade and challenging lines. Eddie Bauer athletes Wyatt Caldwell, Lexi DuPont, and Lynsey Dyer experienced this same flexibility and freedom at Eagle Pass last winter, putting the new First Ascent Neoteric, Backdraft, and Propellant styles to the test while landing to four days of stable bluebird after a month of characteristically hammering Monashee storms.

Riding with Newsome, his Eddie Bauer First Ascent teammates tapped into high-alpine lines, wind-sculpted features, and big spine lines, with the freedom to test their professional skills and new First Ascent gear against expansive Monashee backdrops. But the terrain is what sets the experience apart.

“I’ve been to a lot of helicopter operations and this one is one of the most picturesque. As far as the scenics go, it is just mind-blowing,” Dyer says. “The diversity of terrain they have here is over the top. They’ve got trees, they’ve got pillows, they’ve got spines, they’ve got the high alpine and it’s just so beautiful. We skied chutes, we skied open faces, just some of the best powder I’ve had all season, as well as peaking into some spine lines. I wish that I had an endless budget because I would probably put it all here.”

Notched into prime Monashee terrain, the 270,000-acre tenure of Eagle Pass features deep, dry Monashee snow, but it was originally overlooked as too rowdy for the old-school heli-ski crowd. But Eagle Pass saw a new focus as a prime zone for freeriders seeking out aggressive lines in challenging terrain rather than a hand-held luxury experience. “When clients come to Eagle Pass, the first thing I want them to leave with is sore legs,” Newsome says. “We’re about the skiing and the riding and getting out there and getting after it. We’re not about the fluffy lodge life.”

“You can’t really get a better heliskiing tenure than Revelstoke. It’s the mecca of heliskiing,” Newsome says. “It’s been that way for forty years and there’s a reason for it. Eagle Pass was the last slice of heaven as far as operating tenure in Canada. It was one of the last gems out there.”

“Scott made me feel at home and inspired me to be out there,” says Caldwell about an epic road trip north that kept the Tailgate World Freeride Champ happily on edge. “He pretty much opened the door and gave us the key to the castle.”

 

Author: - Friday, November 22nd, 2013
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