People often ask me what Mike Wiegele is like…
"I am committed to the 'soul' of skiing," says Mike. "To enjoy the true freedom of skiing is to return to nature's purest form of backcountry wilderness. There is nothing like the whisper of the wind and the hiss of skis sliding through snow. To experience these moments is sacred."
Whenever I’m asked about Mike, I always hesitate. It is not that easy to sum a person up in a casual conversation. There are, of course, canned lines and scripted text I could regurgitate. However, that doesn’t make for a very interesting conversation.
I decided the best way to describe Mike was to let him do it himself…so I sat down with him recently and asked a few questions.
You’ve been in the ski industry for a very long time, what inspired you to become a guide?
~ I didn’t think much of it…looking back, it was more of a natural progression. I went into the mountains a lot. I was a professional ski instructor and ran a ski school. I started getting requests from people looking to extend their season from April to May. There is amazing corn snow this time of year. I welcomed it, I said, “you pay for the heli time and I’ll take you”. I love people and going to the mountains so it was an easy transition to professional ski guiding. It is in the mountains where you truly become a guide… you want to give your guest the best experience for that particular day.
We have 553 named runs in the Wiegele Tenure; do you have a favourite?
~ That question is problematic. I honestly cannot pick one single run, I have many favorites. The whole area is favoured. Each mountain has something unique and can change at any time. There is a moment when all the elements come together to create that perfect experience. One particular occasion comes to mind… a couple of years ago, it was the end of an exhilarating day and I was tired. There were five minutes to go before down time and I looked up the valley and I saw a little bright light on the run Mike’s Warm-Up. I figured… why not! We landed on the ridge and the west sun was shining right through the side of the run. The snow and trees glittered like tiny little Christmas lights. The snow was so light and the skiing effortless. The combination of the beauty and powder was magical. All the guests felt the same way. Everyone enjoyed the run in silence… it was perfect.
What is your most memorable moment?
~ After so many decades, there have been so many different and memorable memories. But out of it all, I have to say, the best is the guest expression when you take them in the mountains. It is by far the most precious.
What’s the best thing about working here?
~ Going on vacation every day!
You’ve endured quite a few injuries over the years yet you still ski almost every single day and lead a very active lifestyle… what’s your secret?
~ I’ve had many injuries over the years. Even after spending almost a year and a half on crutches, pulling my hamstring, dealing with knee problems, breaking ribs, crashing on my bike, rolling over boulders and replacing a hip, I’ve learned you can overcome all injuries and sickness by maintaining strength, endurance and keeping the mind busy. Strength promotes nutrition of joints. Mind and body work as one and you have to be aware of what conflicts with them, like certain food. It is important to maintain your health and continuously learn and find something that motivates you – when you’re bored, you’re dead.
What are you most proud of?
~ I am very fortunate and happy with what I’ve experienced in my life and am proud of many things. I look at how the world has changed and how the level of safety has grown in our industry and how there is a continued search to improve humankind and to set the bar higher – I am proud I have been a part of this. I am proud of my family and friends and how their support, wisdom, guidance and insight have not faltered over the years. I have many mentors, especially my wife Bonnie. I am also very proud of the work I’ve done with kids and seeing their success with development and discipline and achieving things. It has been a privilege to see them become world champions.
What goals are you still working towards?
~ To build the ultimate perfect ski place. But not just for myself. I want to combine it with a sustainable economic base. People you work with should also be achieving their goals; achieving a certain lifestyle with a strong community, a good paying job, decent education, proper healthcare, various recreational activities and affordable housing. Blue River is in a remote area but is truly a magical place… my goal is to continue to see it prosper, flourish and enjoy it with as many people as possible.