Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing
Where the vertical limit does not exist
WORDS • ERIN SPONG | FEATURED IMAGE • courtesy of Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing
The magic moments happen when you’re in the right place at the right time. Founder of Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing, Gus Abel, knew he found the elusive pot of gold for a destination resort when his explorations led him to Tyaughton Lake in the South Chilcotin Mountains near Pemberton, British Columbia. This mountain range begged to be explored further than a gondola or chairlift could ever go, so Abel opened TLH Heli-skiing in 1991 to serve skiers with nearly a million acres of some of the most incredible snow and terrain in the world. In 2010, TLH merged with Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa to become what it is known as today: one of the most unique heli-skiing offerings in North America with nearly 30-year-old roots.
Uniquely positioned, the range gets the same abundance of snow that characterizes coastal storms, but with the dry, cold composition usually found in British Columbia’s interior.
“Our tenure, as you go east to west, will get a settled snowpack of five feet in the far, far east and we’ll have up to 27 feet of settled snowpack in the west of our tenure,” says Michael Horst, heli-ski operations manager and mountain guide at Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing. “That’s not annual snowfall, that’s actually settled snowpack.”
Since the start of the operation, Tyax has always been about helping guests make–and ski–the most of its terrain. At Tyax every group gets it’s own dedicated helicopter each day to minimize wait times and eliminate the urgency of sharing a helicopter. Like most operations today, Tyax offers a vertical guarantee, which actually refunds guests if they don’t ski a certain amount. Unlike almost every other operation, though, Tyax also operates with an unlimited vertical policy. That means once a group meets the guaranteed amount of vertical, they keep shredding as much as their legs can handle–a vertical buffet, if you will–at no extra cost.
“We had several groups that skied over 165,000 vertical feet in a week, which is a pretty huge amount of skiing in seven days and they weren’t charged a dollar extra,” says Horst. “At no point in the ski day or in the week do we have to sit down and have a conversation to say, ‘Well, your $15,000 was really nice but it only lasted until Wednesday, do you want to just stay in the lodge the last two days?’ It’s on us, we go skiing and we keep skiing at the same pace looking for the best snow possible even after we blow through the vertical guarantee.”
So close yet so far out, Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing is only a 30-minute flight north of Pemberton but feels like a world away. With 830,000 skiable acres and over 375 runs to freely explore, forget running into other operations, skiers won’t even notice the other Tyax helicopters.
“We fly from our lodge typically due west into the heart of the southern Chilcotins and Coast Mountains and we can fly and ski an entire day and rarely even hear one of our helicopters,” boasts Horst.
An operation all its own, Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing has crafted its offerings for the better part of three decades to be one of the most unique heli-skiing experiences anywhere in the world. The perfect mix of climate and snowfall across nearly a million acres allows skiers the freedom to explore a virtually endless playground with which a vertical limit does not exist. Skiers can come back time and time again, never ski the same time twice and never hesitate to take that extra lap.
Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing by the numbers
Years Operating: 27
Terrain Accessed: 830,000 acres
Annual Snowfall: 55-985 inches
Guest-to-Guide Ratio: 10:2
Lodging On-Site: Yes
Single Heli Drops: No
Heli Types: Bell 212
Vertical Policy: UNLIMITED
Closest Airport: Vancouver International (YVR), 7 hours