When we spend a day with a CMH Heli-Skiing Guide, it is impossible not to be in awe of their profession. It appears that every waking hour they are committed to the safety and quality experience of their skiing and snowboarding guests.
But every single one of them has a life outside of guiding.
A couple of years ago I went Heli-Skiing with Liliane Lambert in the epic tree runs and scenic alpine terrain of CMH Revelstoke. At that time she had a toddling daughter at home and a son on the horizon.
Liliane’s blossoming home life and commitment to her profession begs the simple question: How does she do it?
So I tracked her down between guiding ecstatic guests through the epic storm cycles of the 2012-2013 winter to find out.
TD: How old are your kids now?
LL: Thomas is almost two and Emilie is four.
TD: How did you meet your partner?
LL: I have a great husband (Dominic). I met Dominic in the Bugaboos during the spring of 2002! He was the chef. Three months later we moved to Revelstoke and bought a house.
TD: What do your little ones do while you are working?
LL: They are with Dominic. Dominic takes them skiing (alpine and x-country), swimming, skating, Strong Start (a drop in no-charge preschool for kids in British Columbia), Mother Goose (a story telling program), the train museum, long hikes with the dog (Texas), and riding bikes (when the snow is not too deep). They go to day care twice a week so they get their social time and Dominic can go ski touring. During the four month winter season Dominic does not work to be with the kids, and during the 8 month summer season Dominic goes to work and I stay home with the kids. Dominic is the owner of Indigo Landscaping in Revelstoke.
TD: Have you taken Emilie Heli-Skiing yet?
LL: Yes and no. I was guiding until I was 5.5 month pregnant with Emilie. She has been on 6 helicopter flights. When she was 4 months old we took her to a backcountry lodge. I was guiding and Dominic was the chef and Emilie came along. Dominic was cooking and taking care of her during the day. I am planning to take her out Heli-Skiing in the spring during the staff day.
TD: Has having kids changed your approach to managing risk in the mountains?
LL: My approach to managing risk has not changed that much. I would say that I think twice when I make a decision about managing risk.
TD: Does CMH Heli-Skiing do anything differently from the old days (when guides worked for a month or more straight) to make it easier for parents who are guides to be with their kids?
LL: The schedule is 2 weeks on, 1 week off. CMH has been really good about accommodating time off so we can spend more time with the kids.
TD: How does winter season affect Dominic's relationship with the kids?
LL: They spend a lots of time together so their bond is getting stronger. Dominic is extremely comfortable spending all day with the kids, keeping them busy and entertained - and he has fun has well.
TD: During the winter, what does your workday look like?
LL: I leave the house at 4:45am to get a bit of a work out. The guide’s meeting is at 6:00am until 7:00am, then breakfast and go skiing from 8:00am until 4:00pm. Between 4:30pm and 5:00pm I go home to see how Dom and the kids are doing. Them I’m back at the guide's office from 5:00pm till 6:00pm for guides meeting. I go back home from 6:00pm till 6:30pm and then go back to be with the CMH guests from 6:45pm until 9:15pm. I’m in bed buy 9:30pm.
TD: How long have you been guiding and how old are you?
LL: I have been guiding since 2000 and am 41 year old. I was born in Rimouski , Quebec and I never lost my accent...
TD: How did you get into the mountain sports?
LL: My family was into skiing. My Mom put me on skis at 2 years old. I grew up in Rimouski (near the Val Neigette ski area), ski racing and teaching skiing and telemark ski racing. At 16 I started ski touring in the Chic Choc in Gaspe (1.5 hours from Rimouski). In my early 20's I moved to Banff to go skiing. Then I really got involved in telemark ski racing on the Canadian National Team as well as ski touring and mountaineering. I did my ACMG Assistant Ski Guide Training in 2000 then got hired at CMH for the winter 2000-2001.
TD: On the scale of 1-10, how happy are you with the life of a guide and parent?
LL: 9 out of 10. I am super happy. The minus 1 point is because I get tired. I get tired from not sleeping all night (kids waking up!!). I feel very lucky to have a great partner, 2 great kids and to be able to guide. Life is good.
TD: How do you reconnect with your kids after working such long days?
LL: Emilie and Thomas are use to having one of us away. When I get back I make sure that I spent time a lots of time playing hide and seek and then doing puzzles to get back in the groove. It seems that if I play a game that both them can be involved it seems to be the trick.
Every CMH ski guide has a story like Liliane's, so next time you’re out with them in the snow-laden woods, in awe of their professionalism and mountain savvy, remember to ask them what they do when they’re not guiding. It’s always a great conversation that follows.
Photo of Liliane Lambert in her big office, the Selkirk Range of CMH Revelstoke, by Topher Donahue.
Photo: Kevin Boekholt
Skier: Mike Aucoin (Assistant Area Manager CMH Revelstoke)
Date: February 3, 2013
Area: CMH Revelstoke
Run: Somewhere in the Selkirks
Camera: Canon 5d Mark II
Even with the prevalence of digital capture, it is only every once in a while that we see something entirely unprecedented.
Growing up in the mountains, I always felt like geologic change was real, but not the kind of thing that happened in human time. I was in awe of how glaciers grew and receded, carving the mountains into the seductive shapes that inspires us to learn to ski and climb; but I always believed that I wouldn’t live long enough to really see the changes.
How wrong I was! Just a decade of working with CMH Heli-Skiing has been enough to see dramatic changes in the glaciers of the Canadian Rockies. During the same time, geologic change seems to be accelerating in many parts of the world, and with the phenomenon reaching beyond the niche circles of skiers and mountaineers, people are aiming cameras and instruments at our planet in new ways.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of this change being captured "on film" is the Chasing Ice project. By using time-lapse methods the team, led by photographer James Balog, set out to capture geologic change in a human time frame.
The results, starting with a National Geographic Magazine assignment in 2005, have received global attention. The project has continued, and with cameras trained on galciers all over the globe, perhaps it is not suprising that something extraordinary would be revealed. Recently, a team of photographers in Greenland captured something that defies all our previous assumptions about geologic change.
While shooting a tongue of glacier that has receded as much in the past ten years as in the previous 100, they stumbled into filming the largest glacier calving that has ever been captured on film. This is not a time-lapse, but instead a city-sized section of glacier falling into the sea in little over an hour:
This video clip is perhaps the most stunning thing I’ve ever seen on film. It is part of the film “Chasing Ice” which is showing in North America and the UK during 2013.
Thankfully, here at CMH Heli-Skiing, we still have a vast wonderland of safe and skiable glaciers positioned right next to epic tree skiing; but I gotta wonder; will my grandkids be able to ski these glaciers too?
Did you miss our roadshow this year? One of the highlights is always CMH's yearly feature movie. So, in case you did miss us, here it is! Ascension, CMH's Heli-Ski movie for 2012/2013.
Featuring some of the best footage from the Monashees, Valemount, Revelstoke, Adamants, and more!
Want more CMH videos? Check out our youtube channel, here: www.youtube.com/cmhbanff01
This coming weekend, February 2-4, the acclaimed Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC) is hosting a new event, ReTreat Yourself, at Red Mountain Resort, near Rossland, British Columbia. Rossland is just over two hours north of Spokane, Washington, and four hours south of the powder epicentre of Revelstoke, BC. Lead by a star-studded cast of inspiring women, ReTreat Yourself is a celebration of breast cancer survivors and all other women who find medicine in the mountains.
The ReTreat Yourself weekend is a healthful bonanza of skiing, snowboarding, yoga, meditation, music, discussions and journaling - with a couple of surprises thrown in here and there. The event leaders, shown clockwise from top left, include Linda Kennoy, a life councelor from Colorado, ski legend Kasha Rigby, pro snowboarder Megan Pischke, professional chef Marianne Abrahams, yoga instructor extraordinaire Kristin Campbell and pro snowboarder/Doctor of Chinese medicine, Kendra Starr:
To find out a bit more about the event, part of B4BC's Shred the Love Tour, I talked to Megan Pischke, the spiritual leader of ReTreat Yourself.
TD: How you take these things that most people view as sports and turn them into medicine?
MP: It’s definitely one of the most valuable lessons I took from my sport of snowboarding- it healed me, and it continues to do so. From my experience, nature is healing, the air, the trees, being in “Gods” space if that’s what you want to call it. Its where I can disconnect to anything that doesn’t serve me, and connect into what I really am and where I came from and where I will go- my belief is that this in everyone, if they could just let go of what maybe their mind is telling them (especially about trying new things, not having time for it, etc.) , and FEEL the connection to their true selves within nature, and THEN adding a sport is a bonus, As there is no time for lists, phone calls, even worries, and your focus becomes in the moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, or even an hour from now, pure concentration on the NOW. This is where the mind/body connection comes in, and this is where I believe all healing begins. And then of course the endorphins, the excitement, the overcoming fears. Gosh, the list goes on…
TD: Rossland, one of the favourite stops on the Powder Highway, seems like a great place to hold this event. Where are the 10 "survivors" from in general? Are they travelling far to attend?
MP: Rossland is amazing - its off the beaten path and “out there” compared to other places I have held these retreats. And love it for the adventure! We have gals coming from Squamish and Vancouver, BC, Jasper, Alberta, as well as Kansas, and even from as far as Tennessee.
TD: When you've done these events before at both surf and ski destinations, how does the dynamic of the group change over the weekend?
MP: You know, honestly women are great at making friends, being open to the experience, and very comforting to eachother. Interestingly enough, I have not seen a group that doesn’t start off powerful - really, every time I am humbled and blown away from the beginning. And I would say, there are beautiful lifelong friendships and camaraderie formed by the time it comes around to goodbyes.
TD: How good of a rider do you need to be to really reap the rewards of this program? I see you suggest intermediate to advanced, but where is the sweet spot in ability level - if there is one?
MP: The suggestion this time around was based on the fact that Red Mountain is known for its intermediate/advanced terrain (this place really does kick ass!), and really this was more for the general public who we also invite to attend. We of course welcome all and any levels - and appreciate the fact some gals want to take advantage of the fact that we have fully certified mountain instructors to help them try snowboarding vs. skiing and vice versa. We have never-evers, and I love it that some want to just go for it - regardless of their age or ability. And of course, we always have intermediates/advanced who want to take it to the next level, and also why I bring my pro athletes in (and because they are amazing in their own rights!), to inspire these gals, and encourage the push.
I shared the news of ReTreat Yourself wth a close friend of mine who on Friday underwent an operation to remove breast cancer. With the wounds from the operation not yet healed, she will not be able to attend this weekend, but upon learning of the event she replied: "I would do it this weekend if they'd let me! It's important. Not just for fun, but to meet other people who are going through it and do something together that is good for you in this life."
She'll be there next time.
The B4BC Scholarship Fund, sponsored by The North Face, is providing 10 fully-paid ReTreat Yourself spaces for breast cancer survivors. While the 10 sponsored spaces are already spoken for, there are still ReTreat Yourself spaces available for paying guests. For more information, contact Megan Pischke at email@example.com, or to support the cause, contribute to B4BC.
Photo: Fred Huser
Skier: Todd L
Date: January 24, 2013
Area: CMH Monashees
Camera: Nikon D7000
Did you know that Heli-Skiing is not just for expert skiers? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to confirm you are an ideal candidate to become a Heli-Skier.
Are you a strong intermediate skier?
You should be able to master blue runs at a resort ski hill. You would want your quads to be fit enough to spend consecutive days out on the hill and that you feel comfortable going on the occasional black diamonds. You don’t have to be the most graceful or aggressive skier at the hill to become a Heli-Skier but with these skills, you will get the most out of your Heli-Skiing experience.
Do you like to soak up the little powder on the side of a run?
I know I always try to, but it is very difficult to learn how to ski powder at a resort because there is just never enough of it! It doesn’t matter how early you make it to the hill in the morning, the snow is carved up fast. Powder turns must be learnt in powder. If it is your first time in CMH Powder, the initial turns may not be you’re most elegant, but it won’t be long till you begin to feel the perfect fluidity of your skis in all of that legendary snow.
Would you fit in?
Guests at CMH range in ages from teenagers to fit 70 and 80 years old and there is a wide range of experience and abilities.
A first time Heli-Skier just came out of from Bobbie Burns last Saturday and remarked.
“I was so nervous heading out on the first day; I really did not want to hold anyone else up. But the guides and the entire group were incredible that I felt comfortable right away. AND THE SKIING! That was the best skiing ever, I never even imagined that it would be that good!!”
Still have concerns that you are not an expert? Call us, and chat to one of our honest agents and they will let you know how you can rate your ability and help you choose a trip that it is appropriate for you. CMH Powder University offers Powder 101 courses for first timers (see video here) and Powder 707 for Masters. You could also book a private group or a family ski trip of a lifetime. Our agents can help you decide on the length of stay for your Heli-Skiing trip and to understand the logistics of arriving to the finest destination of Heli-Skiing in the world.
CMH terrain has been treated very well this season with a record load of snow in the Columbia Mountains (see our online photo gallery here!). Over 23 feet of fresh beautiful powder has already fallen this winter and there is no better experience than to leave your trailing mark on the mountain. Don’t delay any longer in booking one of these great trips that are still on offer for 2013.
CMH K2 Small Group – 3 groups of 5 - capacity 15 skiers
Availability: Feb 4- five days/Feb 14 – four days/Feb 28 – four days
Gothics Lodge: 3 groups of 11 skiers - lodge capacity 33 skiers/boarders
Availabilty: Feb 9- four days
Adamant Lodge – 3 groups of 5 in two helicopters – lodge capacity 30 skiers/boarders
Availability: March 16/March 23/March 30/ April 6/ April 13
Monashee Lodge Small Group – 2 groups of 5 and 3 groups of 5 in the Small Heli – capacity 25 skiers/boarders
Availability : March 16
Galena Next Generation – 4 groups of 11 – lodge capacity 44 skiers/boarders
Availability: March 30 - seven days. (Skiers under 25 ski for HALF PRICE)
Gothics Powder 101 - Girls School- 1 group of 10 female skiers – lodge capacity 33 skiers/boarders
Availability: April 9 - four days
Private trips have availability! You don’t need to be hucking cliffs or an expert to ski a private area, you just need to get a group together and go! Private trips are available for 4–10 skiers at various areas including Nomads North and Nomads South.
Now that you have realized your potential, it is just a matter of making those sweet goals come true. Call us today and we'll see you in the Heli before the end of the season.
Photo: Powder Intro with CMH Heli-Skiing in the Bugaboos, by Brad White.
With the inaugural season of CMH K2 well underway, K2 ski stars are skiing with CMH Heli-Skiing groups and rocking aprés ski at the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge. The scene is unlike anything else in the ski world; the world’s best skiers making turns with the world’s most fun-loving Heli-Ski guests.
I imagine it must be a bit like going bar hopping with Mick Jagger, or hitting the country club with Tiger Woods. I checked in with Peter Macpherson, the manager of CMH K2 to see how it’s going.
TD: Are people intimidated by skiing with their ski heroes?
PM: Not at all. Most people are curious about the athlete and who they are, what they do, how they became a pro. There was one young guy and his dad,who stopped into the K2 Rotor Lodge enroute to Revelstoke. The young guy was pretty pleased to have the opportunity to meet Seth Morrison, Collin Collins and Andy Mahre. You could tell he was in awe.
TD: How do the K2 team skiers fit in with the CMH Heli-Skiing groups?
PM: Collin Collins was here during the Steep Shots and Pillow Drops program. He skied most days with that group but spent a day with the regular program and kept us entertained with back flips and 360's. Reggie Crist was here filming a "Powder Highway" show. They skied with the groups and filmed when the opportunity arose. All the athletes join for our intimate family-style meals.
TD: How does the dynamic shift throughout the trip?
PM: People engage the athletes more as the trip goes on. The same way as when CMH guests get to know each other they engage each other more and everyone becomes friends.
TD: How do the K2 skiers inspire CMH guests to ski differently?
PM: Collin in the Steep Shots and Pillow Drops program helped coach the guys in taking hits, launching air, and pulling tricks. Within the regular program people are entertained by the tricks, good skiing, and fun lines.
TD: Any cool stories of skiing with the K2 crew that you could share?
PM: The best was the son and father pulling into the K2 Rotor Lodge on their way to Revelstoke. It was a classic Kootenay snowstorm, late at night. The two stop in to say hi and are warmly greeted - by their ski heroes. We give them a bite to eat and an espresso for the road. The son was pretty excited to have stumbled upon his ski heroes and to have his photo taken with them.
The season may still be young, but there are only three spaces left at CMH K2 for our last K2 Athlete trip of the 2012/13 season on Feb 18-23 with Andy Mahre. We'll release the 2013/14 line-up this coming fall so make sure you are signed up to receive our monthly emails to get the news when it breaks. Or, give us a call at 1 (800) 661-0252 to reserve your place in ski history. And remember, all CMH K2 guests get a free pair of cutting-edge K2 powder skis to keep!
Photo of Seth Morrison checking out the scenery at CMH K2.
I must first start with an apology. Last week, we missed photo of the week... because I was out at CMH K2 and The Gothics taking the photo of the week! So, this week we will have two photos, from the last two weeks.
"Andy rockin' with the rocks"
Photo: John Entwistle
Skier: Andy Mahre
Date: January 11th, 2013
Area: CMH K2
Camera: Canon 6D
"A unique view of the Gothics"
Photo: John Entwistle
Skier: Seth Morrison
Date: January 14th, 2013
Area: CMH Gothics
Run: Old Camp
Camera: Canon 6D
Don't forget to subscribe in the top right corner of your screen to get our "Photo of the week" in your inbox every monday!
Last week I had a chance to catch up with Andy Mahre during a film shoot at CMH K2 and the Gothics, and before Andy skis with CMH Heli-Skiing groups at CMH K2 next month. Andy’s father (Steve) and uncle (Phil) took silver and gold medals in the slalom at the 1984 Olympics, so skiing was certainly in Andy’s genes - if he wanted it.
He wanted it. Here’s what the easy-going ski star had to say about this season with CMH Heli-Skiing - and having an Olympic medalist for a dad:
TD: How has it been skiing with CMH so far?
AM: The snow here (CMH K2) has been EPIC! The first few days it was almost too deep. But once it settled and the sun came out it made for some really fun and photogenic runs.
TD: How much of a "soccer dad" was you dad, or did he keep it fun and low pressure?
AM: The only pressure I got from my dad was to make sure I was having fun. If I wasn't having fun, I probably shouldn't be doing it. I was on the local race team growing up and quit to have him as my coach. Crazy enough, there was no friction because I knew that he knew what he was talking about.
TD: Regarding the fun factor for you and other K2 athletes, how does the CMH/K2 relationship compare to the other commitments on your pro calendar?
AM: The CMH/K2 relationship is a very cool deal for us. It's rare to have a connection where you get to heli ski for work and for fun.
TD: I skied the southern Kootenays once (where CMH K2 is located), and was impressed with how almost every meter of the mountains could be skied. What are your thoughts on the snow and terrain of the area?
AM: The mountains are endless. If you want to hit cliffs, there are cliffs. If you want trees, there are trees. Add the open glades and pillows and you have everything you need to have a great time. There are far more runs/lines than you could ski in your lifetime.
TD: How old are you?
AM: 28 years old
TD: What is the biggest change in ski technology and mental approach to skiing in your time as a skier?
AM: My last pair of slalom skis were 180s. Straight and narrow. I now ski a rockered 179 fat ski that has helped push skiing to new heights. Everything is becoming easier, which makes many more things doable. Powder skiing has forever changed.
TD: If you could pick your last ski run, what would it be?
AM: There is no one run in particular that I could choose as a last run. It would however need to have everything. Powder top to bottom. Cliffs, pillows, gaps, trees, you name it.
TD: Sounds like most runs at CMH! Anything else you’d like to add?
AM: Just finished another epic day, and now we are on our way up to the Gothics. Stoked!
Heli-Ski with Andy at CMH K2 February 18-23, and receive a free pair of cutting-edge K2 skis that are yours to keep. You heard me right: Heli-Ski with Andy and get free K2 skis.
Photo by John Entwistle/CMH Heli-Skiing of Andy Mahre ripping CMH K2 last week during a Poor Boyz Productions film shoot.