Epic. Awesome. Legendary. Three words whose definitions have been diluted as a result of overuse, yet in their purest form describe the experiences offered by Head-Line Mountain Holidays, an outfitter based in Whistler, B.C., that specializes in adventure with a capital A.
Doug Washer, CEO of Head-Line Mountain Holidays, who brims with boyish enthusiasm, thrives in the outdoors; his inhale is nature and his exhale is adventure. The backcountry-savvy professional is dedicated to giving you the thrill of your life, be it a heli-cave outing, a wilderness spa, a heli-snowmobile tour, or even your very own made-to-order ice hotel.
Washer had been operating snowmobile tours in the Whistler backcountry since 1989 and had seen his fair share of not-so-great weather. But when the Pineapple Express, a warm and wet low pressure system from the Pacific, of January 2015 arrived, “The rain fell, and fell, and fell, and the snow kept melting,” he says. With business down 60 per cent and the snowmobiles idle, Washer went into emergency mode. He partnered with Blackcomb Helicopters and flew a snowmobile into the alpine in search of snow.
Gazing down on that reconnaissance flight, he discovered snow that was still in great condition, and the route to get there picture-perfect. So 16 snowmobiles were hauled to the alpine and left there, and Washer set out to promote his latest offering: heli-snowmobiling.
Doug Washer brims with boyish enthusiasm and thrives in the outdoors; his inhale is nature and his exhale is adventure.
“People are always looking for the unique and unforgettable,” he says. Soon, hotels like the Four Seasons Resort Whistler were asking him to create a tailored experience for their guests. So popular was Washer (his phone constantly ringing for bookings), he knew he was on to something.
Head-Line Mountain Holidays operates on the largest, southernmost temperate latitude ice cap in the world spanning 320 square kilometres over a series of jagged volcanic peaks in Whistler Blackcomb’s backyard, and where a crimson AStar helicopter will chopper you in for a heli-cave adventure. Snowshoeing in waist-high virgin snow, Washer leads the way to an opening where I crawl into a long frozen chamber. Gradually, it becomes large enough to stand up in. A tunnel of ice boasting many different shades of translucent blue stretches out before me; thousands of years of snowfall compressed into frozen sculpted waves poise over my head. There are halls of ice spires and ice sculptures, all of aqua blue magnificence.
A 10 is something perfect, but an 11 is the experience you’ll get. I get the sense that Washer is up at night looking at topographical maps and Google Earth, reading and researching about glaciers and ice caps. All in the name of epic, awesome, and legendary bragging rights adventures.