Island Lake and the Cedar Valley
have a long and interesting history.
The Cedar Valley has a special micro-climate that not only provides a
lot of snow, but produces huge “coastal style” old growth trees that are unique
in the Rocky Mountains. Fires have
bypassed most of the valley bottom for hundreds of years, enabling monster
trees to survive – some of which have reached 800 years old! 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 1960’s and 70’s saw a
few people come up ski touring in the valley. These
early adventure seekers pioneered the first ski lines in the valley. 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 North America. 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. Mark Gallup started shooting photos with various snowboard pros
including Craig Kelly, Jason Ford, Jake Blattner and Terje Haakonsen.
Island Lake became one of the most famous ski & snowboard media destinations
during this era. In 1993 Greg
Stump filmed part of P-Tex, Lies & Duct Tape here. Other Movies filmed at Island Lake
include Warren Millers “Ride” and MSP’s “Fetish”.
In 1995 Shell Canada whom owned the
7,000 acres of land that Island Lake had been leasing, put the parcel up for
sale. 13 long term guests and
industry celebrities came to the table and purchased the land including Scot Schmidt. Mark Gallup, Craig
Kelly, Jason Ford and Jake Blattner, making
Island Lake the only Cat or Heli operation that owns it’s operating land base. In 2005, a majority shareholder
purchased the land and operation.
In 2004/05 - 2 more lodges (Tamarack and Cedar) were built making a
total of 4. Today Island Lake is one
of the most highly regarded back-country lodges in the world - well known for
both winter and summer activities.