Our People | Eric Ostopkevich

Words by:
Jana Thompson

eric ostopkevich

Eric Ostopkevich (yes, it’s a mouthful, feel free to call him Eric O. like we do) is a man of juxtapositions. Fast-paced heliskiing stacked with vertical feet, against slower-paced ascents of single peaks. Winters spent in the Rockies at Mica, summers spent wherever full-time mountain guiding takes him. As our Assistant Guide Manager, he’s the rambunctious yin to Guide Manager Shane Kroeger’s quieter yang. But he’s also a man of constants: a love for skiing, a love for mountains, a love for family and friends. Basically, Eric O. is a man of big love.

He’s also a man of certainty. A child of the culturally blessed urban streets of Montreal, the first time Eric walked in true mountains, as a tree planter out west in the Canadian Rockies, he felt in his bones they would become his life. From the first climbing course he took, in New Zealand right after high school, he knew he would become a full mountain guide.

But first, the inglorious job of snow shoveling. What many guides might say is the prerequisite, the lowest rung of the ladder that must be stepped on in the climb to achieve the glorious heights we all know as ski guiding.

So yes, in 2000, revered guide Eric O. started out his career shoveling snow and doing maintenance at Island Lake Lodge outside Fernie. The following winter, he ascended the next rung: maintenance hand. And the next winter: tail guide—all while working toward full guide certifications.

And, of course, Island Lake is also where Eric and Shane met almost two decades ago, with Island Lake Lodge playing the unwitting accomplice in initiating what we firmly believe is one of the great guide bromances of all time. When Shane left Island Lake in 2006 to come guide at Mica, he towed Eric, not even a full ski guide yet, along with him.

Over the following three years, Eric achieved his full Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) certification. That kind of training, he says, seeds a curiosity in his Mica guiding about places in our tenure no one’s gone yet (after all, we do have a lot of territory to play with out here). Combined with his joy for shredding powder that still hasn’t abated after all these years, it makes Eric the kind of guide that spurs guests who ski with him, like longtime guest Richard Bentley, to think, Holy sh*tballs, this is going to be a lot of fun!

“I didn't know it at the time, but now realize there are two distinct parts to my life as a skier: before you ski with Eric, and everything else from that point on. We learned that at the end of every traverse was another epic line that Eric had scoped from the air,” Bentley said of his first time skiing with Eric over a dozen years ago. “His attention to detail and his craft served up epic descent after epic descent.”

These days, Eric spends his winters at Mica, with some ski touring and ice climbing guiding thrown in; summers taking guests up soaring peaks all over western Canada and beyond; and training and assessing new ACMG ski and mountain guide hopefuls. Which also makes Eric O. a man of little free time—especially when you toss in the fact that he’s a father to two high-energy, adventurous girls.

“Being away from them isn’t an easy thing,” he says while chatting over the phone from his home in Canmore. He occasionally interrupts himself to slide socks on one daughter, or lift up the other in his arms, on a solo parenting afternoon while his wife Nancy is away working her nurse shift at the hospital. “The further into fatherhood I get, the harder it gets. But when I leave Mica, I get to come home to these beautiful girls and a beautiful wife, and Mica helps me to appreciate that even more.”


Like we said, a man of big love. And for those lucky enough to know him—more than all the rugged ascents and descents he’s chalked up, more than the vertical feet he’s logged, more than his passion for powder—that’s the most memorable trait of all.


I couldn't ask for a better person to work with all these years!


~Shane Kroeger,  Mica Guide Manager