Given that it’s the only place with the proper mix of massive rockfall and super-deep snow, pillow skiing is really a B.C. thing, and those known for chopping their way down its most sacred lines are a particular breed of “slumberjack” — Mark Abma, Chris Rubens, Eric Hjorliefson, Mike Douglas, and Tanner Hall have all charted star film segments on Mica pillows.
On my first trip here a decade ago we’d been dropped in this same spot. We’d all known the statistics — a vast 300,000 acre tenure on the western side of the Rocky Mountains featuring seven drainages packed with massive peaks and glaciers — but nothing prepared us for what we saw. Looking east toward 12,001 foot Mount Clemenceau had been like staring into the heart of the Swiss Alps: the crazy, fluted peak that hovered in front of us was pure Alaska; elsewhere were elements of the Coast Range and Himalayas. In one circling gaze, Mica’s terrain blew our fragile, back-bowl conditioned minds. And then, as now, so did the skiing — a field of easy-angled drops in perfect powder, each of which yielded both a whoop and billowing explosion.
Day two of this trip would be spent in the Molson drainage, and it would be just as good, despite it being only mid-December; 40 to 60 feet of snow annually makes for an earlier, deeper, drier, more stable snowpack than much of the surrounding B.C. Interior. But at Mica, powder is only the beginning.
Back at the lodge, exquisite gourmet food prepared by an expert culinary team is omnipresent; an ever-evolving menu featuring internationally influenced Rocky Mountain cuisine. Liquor is decidedly high-end and includes an excellent scotch collection, B.C.’s best boutique wines, and a wide choice of locally brewed craft beers. With only 20 guests per tour, Mica provides a personalized experience with a 1:1 staff to guest ratio. Such hospitality and five-star amenities required a home, and a new lodge was it.Vancouver-based CEI Architecture designed the new facility and was also responsible for its interior design, which features wood, stone — from legendary Mount Robson no less — and leather in a rich, natural color palate.
The 14,000-square-foot lodge wraps the remaining chalet and includes 12 luxury suites, staff accommodation, various common areas, a business center, kitchen, bar, dining room, lounge, ski shop, and fitness area. Building on suggestions collected over the years, much time and energy went toward reducing the new building’s carbon footprint and making it energy efficient. As interesting is the decoration from B.C. artists: commissioned original art, decorative local metalworks, woodworking by a longboard builder, and salvaged Persian rugs repurposed into a large, quilt-like carpet.
“The project exceeded my every expectation,” says longtime Mica investor and current owner Patrick Callahan, who dropped $14 million-plus on the new lodge. “There isn’t a single thing I would change. It is truly a magnificent piece of art.”
Waiting for weather to clear next day, we lounged comfortably around the fireplace in “the corner” until the crack of noon, at which point we bee-lined back to the Harvey drainage and the Rock Garden, a truncated ridge of pillow lines down fat, car-sized rocks. This time we worked our way from short shots to the bigger stuff. It was all in the shade by this time, but despite a stiff wind we kept warm. Poof, poof, poof. So many drops, so much effort. Enough, in fact, to make one sleepy. But with pillows the new fashion in face-shots, who has time for sleep?