What is the iconic MWHS Silver Buckle?
For many newcomers who take their first plunge into the world of Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing (MWHS), this is an honest question. Others who have visited the slopes of the Cariboo and Monashee mountains with MWHS many times over may carry the evidence to explain it to you themselves.
The Silver Buckle is a token of recognition for powder enthusiasts who have obtained one million vertical feet, either on skis or snowboards. The buckle is presented to guests as a gift to celebrate the motivation and drive behind attaining the feat of skiing one million vertical feet!
So how did the buckle come about?
Back in the 1980’s, after the lodge was built, Mike would sit in the lounge among friends and discuss days spent skiing in the mountains. Walter Roosley, Bruce Robinson, and Doug Balanger (better known as ‘The Terminators’), were all unique characters and dear friends to Mike. The four of them would gather around the stone-built fireplace where the conversation centered on setting goals and harnessing dreams of vertical achievements. They were creating a tradition and developing strong bonds of friendship, and it was during one of these apres ski afternoons when the name for the lounge was coined: The Silver Buckle Lounge.
By the 1990’s, the Terminators had been skiing with Mike for over twenty years. On one special occasion they surprised him with a golden buckle. The golden buckle was presented to Mike to recognize and reward him for the millions of vertical feet he had skied over the years, and also to show gratitude for a man whose love was gliding down the powdery slopes of Blue River’s backcountry terrain.
Mike cherished his golden buckle and wanted to share the significance of it with fellow skiers. The design of a Silver Buckle was created out of this vision. By rewarding guests with a Silver Buckle for reaching the achievement of skiing one million vertical feet Mike set the foundation and spirit of MWHS and created a tradition that continues today. This prestigious buckle represents love for the backcountry, recognition for powder skiers and snowboarders, and respect for the environment and wildlife with whom we share the land.
A great number of silver buckles have been given out over the years. Over the years, the Silver Buckle has become a badge of honour and a symbol of the true expression for those who love the sport and share one common passion: POWDER.
By Kate Ball