From poor and weary post-WWII Europe to the wild and free mountain wilderness of western Canada, Leo Grillmair’s life story is one of terrific adventure. Arriving in Canada from Austria in 1951, Grillmair and his life-long friend and business partner Hans Gmoser seized on the opportunities their newly-adopted country presented them and introduced Canadians to a whole new way of climbing rock faces. Brimming with optimism and industriousness, Grillmair applied an unwavering work ethic to help build a seasonal ski touring business to a 10-lodge helicopter skiing empire, which changed the face of backcountry recreation in the western hemisphere.
As manager of Bugaboo Lodge, the world’s first heli-skiing lodge, in the world’s first and still largest helicopter skiing company, Canadian Mountain Holidays, Grillmair was instrumental in nurturing an entire industry that continues to employ hundreds of mountain guides, cooks, housekeepers, maintenance workers, pilots, engineers, massage therapists and numerous other office and lodge staff every year. Plumber, climbing pioneer, novice lumberjack, skier, professional rock collector, mountain guide, first-aid whiz, lodge manager, singer and storyteller extraordinaire, Leo Grillmair’s life is the stuff of which great stories are born.