History

Island Lake has been one of the most filmed and photographed destinations in the ski and snowboard industry. 2013 was the 25th Anniversary of Catskiing at Island Lake.

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.

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.  In the works is a documentary called The Lines of Legends – A history of Catskiing and Snowboarding at Island Lake lodge which will be released in October, 2013.

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Bear-first cat

From Our Customers

I grew up starting to snowboard in the mid 80′s and Craig Kelly was a hero of mine, still is.

The lodge, the staff, the food and the scenery could not be beat. I shared my admiration for Craig with the staff & they in turn took the time to share some personal stories about him with us, that meant a lot to me and my family.

Dan Webster - Magrath, Alberta