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HOME 2017-07-31T14:55:13+00:00

History of our operation

Perched at 2,200 m (7,200 ft) near the headwaters of Butters Creek, we offer exceptional Selkirk skiing right out our front door.

Our Story

High in the Battle Range on a forested shoulder is where you will find Battle Abbey Back Country Lodge. Every backcountry ski touring operation has a history, and ours goes back 40 years. Bill Putnam, Roger Laurilla and numerous friends supplied most of the labor and materials. Hans Gmoser and CMH provided most of the logistics. Since the initial foundations were set in 1977 and final construction completed in 1978, the lodge has seen 5 additions. It sits at an elevation of 2,220 m (7,200 ft). 14 guests plus 5 staff members can relax in roughly 3,000 square feet of comfortable eclectic living space.

The initial founders and owners of Battle Abbey were Hans Gmoser and Bill Putman. Hans started and successfully ran Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) until he sold it in 1995. Bill was a television broadcaster, geologist, mountaineer, and accomplished author. During the winter months at Battle Abbey, CMH ran ski touring weeks which started in March of 1979, and came to an end in the spring of 2004. In the summer months, Bill orchestrated construction and maintenance projects which enriched the lodge’s personality. He was also passionate about mountaineering in the area.

With the sale of CMH, Battle Abbey no longer fit within with the business model of heli-skiing. To ensure its enjoyment for years to come, Bill and Hans decided to transfer the lodge over to Roger Laurilla and Robson Gmoser. In June of 2004, Roger and Robson incorporated Laughing Bear Adventures Ltd, and took the concept from a small 4 to 5-week ski program to the successful 14-week operation you see today. Battle Abbey’s tenure is vast with wildlife and high alpine meadows carpeted by flowers in the late summer. From peaks in the area, you can experience spectacular views from 3,200 m (10,500 ft). Our winter snow pack can exceed well over 3 m (10 ft). The skiing in the winter is unprecedented, and summer hiking truly magical.

Battle Abbey has a long and intricate history to which many people have contributed numerous hours and endless efforts. From the first inaugural flight in 1977 with Hans and Bill to the purchase and co-ownership by Roger and Robson, many people have enjoyed its unique and interesting atmosphere. With the passing of Hans and more recently Bill and Robson, Roger continues to be the sole Owner and Operator of Battle Abbey Back Country Lodge.

Hans Gmoser

Hans is best known as the founder of Canadian Mountain Holidays and as the person who introduced helicopter skiing to the world. He was a well-known Mountain Guide with many first ascents under his belt and made a career of promoting western Canada’s mountains to skiers and climbers.

He received Canada’s highest honor when he became a Member of the Order of Canada in 1987. He was also made an Honorary Member of the Alpine Club of Canada in 1986, an Honorary Member of the International Federation of Mountain Guides in 1992, and Honorary President of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides in 1997. In 2004 he received on Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University College of the Cariboo. He was also a founding member and Chairman of the Standards Committee of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and also a founding member and President of the Association of B.C. Heli-Skiing Operators.

Bill Putnam

William Lowell Putnam was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States in 1924 and studied geology at Harvard University. While attending college he volunteered to fight in the Second World War and was wounded in combat, suffering a serious chest injury. This would later prevent him from going to extreme altitudes.

In his professional career, he was the founder, president and CEO of the Springfield Television Corporation managing four TV-stations. In 2001 he was inducted into the American Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Putnam was the sole trustee of the Lowell Observatory, which is the world’s largest private astronomical research observatory. Putnam has filled many positions in the American Alpine Club. In 1957 he became the editor of the AAC’s Canadian guidebooks. Later he served as Councillor, Director, Treasurer and last but not least President from 1971-73. Putnam was responsible for overseeing the construction of three mountain huts in western Canada.

Robson Gmoser

Robson grew up in Canmore, Alberta. He started his guiding career with Mount Assiniboine Lodge’s hiking program in 1985. He also had a lengthy sea kayaking career in Patagonia, the Arctic, and along the BC Coast. Robson earned his Ski Guide certification in his mid 20’s with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, and began heli-ski guiding for Canadian Mountain Holidays in the mid 90’s at CMH Bugaboos. His main focus was co-ownership at Battle Abbey. He also offered various ski touring weeks at other backcountry huts throughout British Columbia. Robson was a Board Member for the Back Country Lodge Association of British Columbia (BLBCA).

Robson was a great person to be around and had an intense passion for the mountains. He had an amazing sense of humour and a contagious laugh that still carries through in anyone who has ever spent time with him. His many talents included limerick recitals, stories, abstract artwork, and incredible voices and accents. Robson was a committed husband and father to Olivia and Max, and his gentle charismatic nature touched a lot of people. Robson’s spirit will remain at Battle Abbey forever.

Roger Laurilla

Roger’s professional guiding career spans over 30 years as an IFMGA Mountain Guide. His 40-year history at Battle Abbey started with the inaugural location flights in 1977 with Hans Gmoser and Bill Putnam. Roger has been involved with all five additions to the present day facility. Roger’s life with CMH started in 1979, with the construction of the Bugaboo Lodge. His full-time involvement with CMH ended in August 2008, after a 12-year managerial role at CMH’s Monashee Lodge. Roger still continues to guide for CMH, and has a strong client base both locally and internationally. Along with a love for the mountains, Roger also has a successful photography career with over 20 magazine cover shots, and various professional contracts including National Geographic.

His impression on people and guests is that of quiet and caring. With the loss of Bill, Hans, and Robson which were close friends and business partners, Roger continues as the sole owner and operator of Battle Abbey Back Country Lodge.