Locals continue tradition to honour heli-skiing pioneer

After he passed away last summer, Mike Wiegele’s annual bike ride lives on
Four Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing employees participated in the ride. Photo by Maria Davis Photography & Art.

Sun Peaks locals continue to honour the memory of Mike Wiegele, most recently with the return of his “Tour de Blue” bike ride.

Wiegele passed away in July 2021 at age 82, after running Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing (MWHS) for over 50 years. Every year for the past two decades, Wiegele would complete a four-day bike journey from Banff, where he lived, to Blue River, where the heli-resort is located.

This year, Sun Peaks community member and senior lead guide for MWHS Elias Ortner continued the tradition in Wiegele’s honour.

Along the ride through the Rocky Mountains. Photo by Maria Davis Photography & Art.

“I guess you could call it a company tradition,” Ortner said. “[Wiegele] did it with friends and family — a variety of people over the years — just as a preparation for winter. Sort of like fitness testing, he always said.”

Ortner completed the entire 497km bike ride alongside fellow MWHS senior lead guide Bill Mark, and was joined in Jasper by co-workers Bob Sayer and Matic Vecko. Ortner’s wife, local photographer Maria Davis, also tagged along in a support vehicle, taking pictures along the way.

Photo by Maria Davis Photography & Art.

Wiegele would typically complete the trip in the last week of August around the time of his birthday. Ortner and his co-workers started biking on Aug. 30 and arrived in Blue River the day before Wiegele’s celebration of life.

“Lots of people were really happy that we did it,” Ortner said. “It always got us thinking about winter, and I was fortunate enough to do it with him on his last trip in 2019 prior to COVID.”

Photo by Maria Davis Photography & Art.

Mike Wiegele’s Helicopter Skiing is located less than a three hour drive north of Sun Peaks and is a partner of Sun Peaks Resort LLP. 

Wiegele will continue to be remembered through his contribution to popularizing heli-skiing in B.C., the numerous awards he received and his passion for the mountains.

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