History of Battle Abbey Backcountry Lodge

Posted by Tessum Weber in Stories

History of Battle Abbey Backcountry Lodge

Battle Abbey Backcountry Lodge in British Columbia at dusk.

History of Battle Abbey Backcountry Lodge

Battle Abbey Backcountry Lodge, nestled high in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, has a rich and storied past.

Origins and Founding

The saga of Battle Abbey began in the late 1970s when a group of passionate outdoor enthusiasts embarked on an ambitious project to construct a lodge at the heart of the Battle range in the Selkirk Mountains. Here are the key players:

  1. Bill Putnam: A multifaceted individual—television broadcaster, geologist, mountaineer, and accomplished author—Bill Putnam was instrumental in shaping the lodge’s character. His vision extended beyond mere construction; he wanted to create a haven for backcountry skiers and mountaineers.

  2. Hans Gmoser: Known as the founder of Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) and the pioneer of helicopter skiing, Hans Gmoser contributed logistical expertise. CMH, under his leadership, provided critical support during the lodge’s early days. Hans understood the delicate balance between adventure and safety, and his involvement ensured that Battle Abbey would thrive.

  3. Roger Laurilla: A young teenager at the time, Roger Laurilla rolled up his sleeves and worked alongside friends and mentors. His dedication would later play a pivotal role in Battle Abbey’s continuity. Roger would go on to lead an impressive pioneering career in the mountains, be instrumental in the build up of CMH, guiding international guests and forging many of the industry standards employed by today’s ski industry.

Building the Lodge

In 1977, the initial foundations were laid, and by 1978, Battle Abbey stood proudly at an elevation of 2,220 meters (7,200 feet). The lodge’s construction involved a collaborative effort: Bill Putnam, Roger Laurilla, and their friends provided most of the labor and materials, while CMH facilitated logistics.

The Early Years

During the winter months, CMH organized ski touring weeks at Battle Abbey, starting in March 1979. Skiers explored the pristine Selkirk Mountains, reveling in the untouched powder and breathtaking vistas. Meanwhile, Bill Putnam orchestrated construction and maintenance projects, infusing the lodge with character.

Ownership Transitions

As the years passed, Battle Abbey evolved. When Hans Gmoser sold CMH in 1995, the lodge no longer fit the heli-skiing business model. To ensure its legacy, Bill Putnam and Hans decided to transfer ownership to Roger Laurilla and Robson Gmoser.

In June 2004, Roger and Robson incorporated Laughing Bear Adventures Ltd, expanding the ski program from a modest 4 to 5 weeks to the thriving 14-week operation we know today.

In 2024, the lodge was purchased by Weber Powder Inc, (brothers Nansen & Tessum Weber alongside a team of passionate outdoor enthusiasts) as they set out to expand on the 40+ years of adventure at Battle Abbey.

Battle Abbey Today

Battle Abbey Backcountry Lodge remains a sanctuary for adventurers seeking adventure in the rugged wilderness. Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Lodge life: Approximately 3,000 square feet of comfortable living space accommodates 10 guests and 5 staff members. Read about the 2024/2025 construction plans for Battle Abbey to further enhance guest experience.

  • Stunning Views: From nearby peaks, gaze upon spectacular vistas at an elevation of 3,200 meters (10,500 feet). Nine glaciers in view of the lodge’s espresso bar.

  • Abundant Snow: The winter snowpack often exceeds 3 meters (10 feet), providing unparalleled skiing opportunities.

  • Summer Magic: In warmer months, explore alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers, hike ridge tops, explore glaciers and swim in alpine lakes.