Michaela Pye: Pursuing Ambitious Goals in an Unconventional Location

Fate led Michaela Pye to Terrace. With nearly a decade of experience in the ski industry, including a couple of years skiing and mountaineering in Alaska, she set out to become an accredited Canadian ski guide. Accessing the necessary courses and experience meant leaving behind her home in Newfoundland and moving west with her partner, Alan. 

They explored various communities and multiple job offers, including some in the Rockies, which she admits now might have more directly aligned with her career goals, but Terrace proved irresistible. 

"I read this article about how much it snows here and these massive winter dumps," she says. "And we decided to just go for the winter."


Opting for a ski patrolling position, which offered a laid-back schedule and ample skiing opportunities, it didn't take long to discover the town's wonderful community. The warmth and welcoming nature stood out immediately. During their initial weeks in Terrace, they faced significant challenges finding housing. Desperate for a distraction from the stress, Michaela posted in the Terrace Adventure Chicks group, expressing a desire to go skiing and escape their AirBnB. Quick responses arrived from four women who have since become some of her closest friends. 

The easy and authentic connections formed astonished Michaela, as people continued to eagerly invite her to join them for skiing and other activities. Whether arranging a backcountry ski day or simply finding someone to spend time outdoors with, the people of Terrace display a lack of pretentiousness. Conversations revolve around shared interests, making it easy to connect with others. And despite the town's size, the genuine hospitality of the locals makes it a welcoming and inclusive place.

Living in Terrace while pursuing her accreditation poses considerable logistical challenges. Journeying to the necessary courses involves navigating flights and hostels or opting for her truck and camper, making it highly inconvenient. The driving distance—15 to 17 hours—from Terrace to locations like Golden and Whistler, essential for the necessary and extensive courses to become an accredited Canadian ski guide, adds an extra layer of complexity. However, while Terrace may lack the typical abundance of mentors in larger ski communities, Michaela is surrounded by supportive and knowledgeable individuals. Working as a tail guide for Skeena Cat Skiing and other operations for the past couple of winters, she's had the privilege of collaborating with experienced guides who generously share their insights. 


In addition to ski guiding, Michaela keeps herself busy, working for a forestry consulting company where she  utilizes her background in tree planting, and bike guiding in the shoulder season. In 2023, she completed a two-month cycling trip that took her and her group from Kazakhstan to Turkey, passing through countries like Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Georgia. The care package that Aleksa prepared for her, including Ascent instant craft coffee, proved to be a crucial and much-appreciated addition to Michael's mornings during the trip. 


Until recently, Michaela also owned and managed an ultramarathon race in Newfoundland. Her involvement in ultramarathon racing spans several years as a participant and event organizer. Featuring 50 K and 100 K options in this community-driven event is  one of the ways Michaela is working to break the perception that ultramarathons are an elitist activity. 

Now, she has a similar plan envisioned for Terrace. Sharing her motivation, Michaela emphasizes the desire to provide people in the north with the opportunity to experience this unique side of running. By showcasing the local trails and creating a challenging yet accessible route, she aims to continue encouraging individuals to discover the sport, test their limits, and spend a fulfilling day enjoying their stunning outdoor surroundings.

While the Terrace portion of the ultramarathon project has yet to kick off, Michaela has already planned the route, secured the city's permission, and generated interest. Despite delays and an intensely busy winter, she remains optimistic that the Skeena Ultra will come to fruition in some form this summer.


Resourcefulness is needed in the north, where achieving certain goals may not be possible locally. Still, Michaela has found a supportive community that compensates for the scarcity of traditional mentors in the mountain guide realm. With determination and the right network, she proves that pursuing ambitious goals in unconventional locations is indeed possible.

Four years after arriving for one winter, Michaela and Alan have embraced the northern lifestyle. The recreational opportunities abundant in the Coast Mountains surrounding Terrace and the warmth of the community have compelled them to put down roots and solidify their commitment to the town for the foreseeable future.

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