Our CatskiingHeritage

Island Lake and the Cedar Valley have a long and interesting history. In the late 1800’s Michael Phillips was the first European to explore the area and named many of the geographic features at the time. He named Lizard Creek and the Lizard Range after the little green Salamanders he found around Island Lake. In the early 1900’s, hikers, hunters and fishermen explored the valley and lake.  Parts of the lower Cedar Valley were logged at this time and some old stumps can still be seen in places. The 1940’s saw an increase in the amount of people interested in skiing and Island Lake became a popular spot for locals to come up ski touring for the day or even overnight trips. These early adventure seekers pioneered the first ski lines in the valley. This continued into the 80’s.

In 1988, the Bear Lodge was built and in December of that year the first cat was delivered to Island Lake Mountain Tours (as it was called then) and cat skiing officially started in the area. Though not the first, it was one of the earliest catski operations in the world. In the early 1990’s some of the biggest names in the ski and snowboard industry became regulars at the lodge. Greg Stump filmed with Scot Schmidt and Mark Gallup started shooting photos with various ski and snowboard pros including Craig Kelly, Jason Ford, Jake Blattner and Terje Haakonsen. Island Lake became one of the most famous ski & snowboard media destinations in the world during this era. In 1993, Greg Stump filmed part of P-Tex, Lies & Duct Tape.  Other Movies filmed at Island Lake include Warren Millers “Ride”, MSP’s “Fetish”, and Sherpa Cinemas award winning All.I.Can.

Bears Above the Valley

The limestone spires of the Three Bears rise above the Lizard Range and Cedar Valley like sentinels guarding a secret place. And a very special place it is. The Cedar Valley is home to a unique old-growth rainforest including 800-year-old cedar trees. The Valley's intense micro-climate produces an unusual amount of snow for this part of the Rocky Mountains, adding to the reputation of one of the best-known backcountry lodges in North America: Island Lake Lodge. Bears Above the Valley explores the diverse history of the Cedar Valley and Island Lake Lodge, well documented with stunning photography and insightful text. Scot Schmidt, godfather of freeskiing, and Craig Kelly, pioneer of big mountain snowboarding, are two of the many ski-industry characters who are covered. Their pursuit of backcountry lines, deep powder and big mountain freedom are an integral part of the Island Lake story.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary a coffee table book called Bears Above the Valley has been produced, it contains a great selection of classic and new photos.

Buy "Bears Above the Valley" Book

Articles &Accolades

In the early 1990’s some of the biggest names in the ski and snowboard industry became regulars at the lodge. Greg Stump filmed with Scot Schmidt and Mark Gallup started shooting photos with various ski and snowboard pros including Craig Kelly, Jason Ford, Jake Blattner and Terje Haakonsen. Island Lake became one of the most famous ski & snowboard media destinations in the world during this era.

See Articles & Accolades