355 Months: Tales of an Alaskan Mountain Man

In Heli-Ski, People

Photo: Shannon Mahre-Skouras | Steve at CMH K2

Scroll this
Words by Morgan Dinsdale | Posted November 5, 2016

Steve Kruse is an Alaskan mountain man. Downright jolly, his burly stature subdued by a magnetic smile that seems permanently cast on his face. The truth is Steve is a happy guy and there’s a few reasons why. First off, for 355 consecutive months Steve has skied at least one day a month. Digest that.

One day a month for 355 months in a row. That’s nearly 30 years spent chasing the snow. I’m not sure about you but I haven’t often found myself planning a ski touring trip in mid-August. Steve has 29 times.

This past winter Steve also skied 1 million vertical feet with CMH. Yes, 1 million vertical feet in five months. He opened the CMH season in Revelstoke reaching six million feet. He then closed the CMH season at the Bugaboos with seven. Few have or ever will accomplish this feat.

Photo: Steve Kruse personal collection
Photo: Steve Kruse personal collection

Celebrating his 60th birthday this year, Steve may be the most fascinating man I’ve met in a very long time.

“It was the classic, I’ll just try this once,” he says of his first ski trip with CMH back in 1991 with a group of Alaskans. After one week he was hooked, namely by the steep tree skiing and the reality that he’d completed what would be a year’s worth of backcountry skiing in Alaska in one week at CMH Kootenay. Twenty-five years later he still finds his way back each season.

“I keep having to redefine a 10 out of 10,” he says of the incredible powder days he’s had over the years. “I’m a love-the-run-you’re-on kind of guy and I guess I’m lucky, because I can’t tell you how many times skiing with CMH I’ve had the best day of my life in the mountains.”

Photo: Kevin Boekholt | Steve in deep CMH Revelstoke pow

Steve followed his career in chemical engineering from Minnesota to Alaska in 1979. What he fell in love with were wild mountains and the staggering remoteness of the landscape. In the 1990s, after ten years ski touring Alaska’s backcountry, Steve followed his passion and his skis south to British Columbia’s untouched forests and peaks.

“Ski touring Alaska comes with a certain wildness, but there’s something about the steep trees and deep powder of British Columbia that’s like nowhere else on Earth,” he says of the past 25 years he’s spent exploring the Monashee, Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges.

It wasn’t until mid-March last season that Steve realized the million feet was within his grasp – in fact he was just 11,000 feet shy. He’d never sought out to reach his 7th million foot in the same ski season as his 6th, but he wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip away. Not a bad call given that this past winter’s epic snowfall meant almost every foot of his million skied were in untouched powder.

In the process of accomplishing this feat, Steve also checked two more boxes off his lengthy CMH list by taking his first spring skiing trip at the Bugaboos Lodge – the only one he had left to visit. Fitting, that he completed his objective of skiing every CMH lodge at the one that started it all.

Photo: Steve Kruse in his honourary guide's jacket
Photo: Steve Kruse in his honourary guide’s jacket

Today he’s skied every CMH tenure, visited every CMH lodge and established deep friendships with lodge staff, guides and pilots as well as dozens of guests who’ve joined him out in the mountains. There’s not much Steve hasn’t seen or skied with CMH.

“If I’m travelling alone to a lodge, I love that I always run into someone I already know,” he says of his lifetime skiing with the company. “Be it staff or other guests, you make a lot of friends when you’re in the frequent flyers club of CMH.”

“You meet like-minded souls down here, the kind that love the mountains just as much as you do,” he adds. “And the staff, well they are like family to me.”

It makes perfect sense. Like the staff, he’s dedicated his life to adventure in the mountains. His passion for skiing and love of the wild mountains of British Columbia is lost to none of them. After all, I don’t know any other way one skis 355 months in a row.

Update: As of today, Steve is now at 362 consecutive months and counting.

For more on CMH Heli-Skiing click here.

Photo: Scott Sommer | Skiing with friends last December at CMH Revelstoke
Photo: Scott Sommer | Skiing with friends last December at CMH K2 (Steve, third from left).