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CMH wraps up a stellar 48th Heli-Ski season

  
  
  

Last weekend, CMH Heli-Skiing wrapped up the Heli-Ski season in style. On Saturday, Dave Cochrane, the Bugaboos Area Manager, sent our Banff Office this letter that nicely sums up not only Dave’s perspective on the world’s greatest skiing, but also the entire company’s focus on safety and attention to our guests:

Good morning everyone,
Our last guests just got on the bus about 20 minutes ago.

We have had a truly outstanding last week of skiing with good weather, and every kind of good condition you can imagine, from deep silky powder to the best corn you could possibly have or dream about and also a little sticky gluey snow here and there, with very little or no transition from powder to corn.

We had a really fantastic season, with a lot of deep powder through the first half and then smaller storms after that. I can’t recall any bad skiing at all, although I am more than heavily biased for all the good memories. We had a couple of rainy days and didn’t ski, but it literally was seen by all of us simply as a huge opportunity for new snow and we remained positive. As it turned out the rain healed everything with lots of new snow at the ends of the rainy periods as the weather cooled down.

Our staff were really incredible and were instrumental in keeping everything safe and fun for everyone. I am privileged to be able to work with the remarkable people here at the lodge.

I would like to thank you all again for the tremendous hard work to keep us well supplied, safe and running smoothly. Your collective dedication to high quality professional management of all aspects of the support you provide us is really the best and makes running the show up here very easy indeed!

For so many of us it’s a job, but we are fortunate to work with incredible people and like I said before you should all be proud for a job very well done!

Thanks and to many more safe and happy mountain adventures!

-Dave Cochrane

heli ski season

Every skier and snowboarder who joined CMH for a trip, from some of the sport’s visionary superstars to first timers who are intermediate skiers, gave us rave reviews. The common story across the range of skill levels and experiences is how the combination of the staff hospitality, comfortable lodging, careful and personable guides - and of course the epic snow riding -make for one of the finest experiences this world has to offer.

Thanks Dave! Here’s to a fine conclusion to the 48th winter of CMH Heli-Skiing!  

Are you a good enough skier to Heli-Ski? YOU BET!

  
  
  

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.

Helicopter and Skiers: Powder 101 with CMH Heli-SkiingAre 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.

Andy Mahre: Powder skiing has forever changed.

  
  
  

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.

Andy Mahre Powder skiing

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.

Short heli trips and free K2 skis - the new rage for an epic season

  
  
  

The quality of the skiing right now at CMH Heli-Skiing is the kind that makes a single run worth an entire trip - or for that matter, an entire lifetime of skiing.

Here’s the latest first hand report:

“Today was more than Epic... not sure if there is a word for it!!!! The snow was unbelievable. Everything we skied yesterday was covered with new snow as if no one had been there  before. It  was one face shot after another, run after run. We had a chance to ski in the alpine this morning, but the snow was wind blown so we headed back to the trees which was SICK!!! Definitely the best skiing I have experienced in my entire life!”
-Marie T.

short heliskiing trips

Which brings up the point that you don’t have to book seven days to experience CMH Heli-Skiing during this exceptional winter. I just got off the phone with Katie Coccimiglio, with CMH Heli-Skiing reservations, who told me that they have opened up two more short programs to meet the high demand for shorter four-day trips.

These trips provide three and a half days of skiing, which in these conditions is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; and a short trip is easier on the legs than a full seven-day bonanza with CMH Heli-Skiing. Recently in the Bobbie Burns they have been skiing double the guaranteed vertical in a seven day trip, meaning 60,000 metres or nearly 10,000 metres each day.

Here's the inside soop on shorter trips with CMH Heli-Skiing:

  • For skiers and snowboarders wanting to jump on the conditions as soon as possible, book the January 26 - 30 at the Gothics.
  • For those who need a little more time to plan, book February 9-13 in the Gothics.
  • For those who have limited flexibility but want to be part of the CMH powderfest 2013, there is also limited space scattered throughout the 11 CMH Heli-Skiing areas for both four-day trips as well as CMH Heli-Skiing's Signature seven-day trips
  • At CMH K2, skiers booking both four day and seven day trips also get a free pair of K2 powder skis to keep. (You read that right - you get a free pair of K2 skis!)  At CMH K2, there are two options: three groups of ten serviced by a Bell 212 helicopter, and three groups of five serviced by a Bell 407. Also, a number of K2 athletes are joining regular CMH Heli-Skiing groups at CMH K2 for maximum inspiration.

One thing to consider when debating which length of Heli-Ski trip is best for you, remember that every reputable Heli-Ski operator will take the time to train you in avalanche and helicopter safety. This means that one day trips are often not the best value because the training will cut into your day.  It is for this reason that CMH Heli-Skiing doesn't offer one day trips.

That said, the important thing right now is that snow riders get to BC and get some. The best I can tell from research and talking to the old timers, the last season that was like this was the winter of 1971-1972.

The ski resorts in British Columbia and Alberta are going off too. Book a short trip with CMH Heli-Skiing, and tack on a few days anywhere on the Powder Highway - a string of ski resorts that is really living up to it’s name this winter.

If you've ever considered a Heli-Ski trip, this is the season to do it. Call Katie, or anyone else at CMH Reservations at 1 (800) 661-0252 and get your slice of this epic season.

Photo from CMH K2, January, 2013.

REVELSTOKE, BC: Don’t let the epic snow conditions pass you by!

  
  
  
Don’t let the epic snow conditions pass you by!
There is still time to book a heli-ski trip for 2013

 CMH Snow December 2012

The blogosphere and ski reports are lighting up with the best early season snow conditions North America has seen in years, setting the stage for what promises to be an epic year for skiers and boarders. As the company that invented Heli-Skiing more than 45 years ago and the largest heli-ski operator in the world, CMH Heli-Skiing has created dozens of winter experiences that help dispel some of the myths around deep powder skiing or boarding, making it more accessible than ever. And, with 11 heli-skiing areas in and around Revelstoke in BC’s Columbia Mountains, CMH Heli-Skiing encompasses more terrain than all the major North American ski resorts combined.

Myth 1: Every ski resort says they have the best snow and one destination is no different than the other.
Truth: The Columbia Mountains around Revelstoke have 162 cm (5 + feet) MORE snow than the best year in the last decade. This is huge. Also, the snow that is falling in the region has less moisture, which means champagne powder conditions. Another little known secret of the Columbia Mountains is the latitude.  Up here the sun is high enough in the sky to provide a full day of skiing, but low enough to not affect the surface of the snow.  This keeps the powder soft, even during clear weather. 
 
Myth 2: Only expert skiers can truly enjoy powder skiing.
Truth: The latest equipment has opened up the joys of powder to intermediate level skiers. It is more important to have the right equipment and guides on hand to lead you down some of the best ski terrain in the planet. CMH guides are among the best in the world and they work with every skier to determine the right powder skiing experience based on fitness levels and ability. CMH has designed Powder 101 intro ski weeks for those intermediate skiers unfamiliar with deep powder technique. Four, five and seven day trips are available throughout the ski season and range in price from $4,265 to $11,525 Cdn per person. 
 
Myth 3: Heli-Skiing is a man’s sport.  
Truth: Women should not be intimated by powder and Heli-Skiing. With the right equipment, the right guides and the right attitude, women enjoy deep powder just as much as men, especially in the light, champagne powder we're currently seeing.  Girl Pow(d)er is available as a women-only trip for those who are ready to rip, as well as Powder 101: Girl’s School for strong-intermediate skiers wanting to build their powder skills. These trips are offered for 4 or 5 days and start at $4,265 Cdn.  Bring a friend or we'll find a roommate for you, or maintain your privacy back at the lodge, but on the mountain each day, its just you and your crew, and your guides. CMH also provides specially designed women's powder skis, poles & all safety equipment. 
 
Myth 4: Heli-Skiing is not for families.
Truth: Skiing powder in Canada is an experience people want to share with their loved ones. CMH guides select terrain appropriate for the entire family, and sometimes take three generations skiing together. Seven-day, Next Generation trips introduce powder skiing to the younger generation – with the younger skiers (ages 12 - 25) paying half price when booked with an accompanying adult. Next Gen trips are offered in March and April starting at $8,215 Cdn ($4,110 Cdn for the younger generation skiers).
 
Family Trips are for families with 12 to 17-year old skiers, designed around the Christmas holidays (think 2013!)  Younger children who won’t be skiing are welcome (CMH has nannies available as these non skiers must be supervised at all times).   Families begin the day heli-skiing together, but kids can return to the lodge when they tire to participate in fun, supervised, indoor and outdoor activities (leaving parents to ski at their own pace for the remainder of the day). In the evening, CMH’s chefs cook up a grand family dinner with special meals for the kids. 
 
Myth 5: Fewer days heli-skiing is more cost effective.  
Truth: The value increases the more days (and therefore guaranteed vertical) you book, with one day Heli-Skiing often the lowest value option due to the safety orientation cutting into part of your one day. There is also the myth that when booking a trip, you must ski all day, every day. At CMH, the guaranteed vertical system only charges you for vertical when you’re skiing, and opportunities are provided to stop skiing early and enjoy the amenities of the lodges, including cross country skiing, common areas and a fireplace for socializing, full-service bar, expansive outdoor decks, shop for gifts and gear, sauna, hot tubs and massage service.
 
CMH Heli-Skiing trips include lodging, meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, transportation to and from Calgary International Airport for most trips, use of K2, Atomic and Rossignol skis and poles; a limited number of Burton snowboards are available. Guests are also trained how to use avalanche transceivers, and are provided with a CMH guest pack including shovel, probe and radio. 
 
Myth 6: Snowboarders and skiers don’t mix when heli-skiing.
Truth: CMH welcomes boarders on all trips – and guides instruct boarders on how to manage different conditions and terrain including: anticipating flat sections, not getting too low on traverses, setting bindings towards the rear for deep powder, carrying extra binding parts, and using ski tracks to your advantage. Many CMH guides will lead on a board when riding with a full group of snowboarders.

To know more, contact CMH Heli-Skiing at 1.800.661.0252 or via email at info@cmhinc.com.  Our Heli-Ski Experts are on hand seven days a week from 7am to 7pm and are happy to answer your questions, or pop a copy of The Journal of the World's Greatest Skiing in the mail for your coffee table. Don't let another ski season pass you by!
Photo: Kevin Boekholt, CMH Revelstoke

How to stick tricks deep powder skiing with K2's Collin Collins

  
  
  

Next month, K2 athlete Collin Collins will be joining a group of CMH Heli-Skiers for four days of Steep Shots and Pillow Drops in the Selkirk Mountains south of Revelstoke. They will be based out of the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge in Nakusp and will be some of the fortunate few to help usher in the inaugual season of CMH K2.

CMH K2 Collin Collins

Collin Collins is one of the new breed of skiers, park trained and backcountry savvy, with the cat-like ability to take his jibbing skills into the untouched wonderland of British Columbia’s most famed Heli-Ski terrain. To get an idea of what that combination is like, I tracked down Collin and this is what he had to say:

TD: It sounds like you're pretty good in the park. How do you apply those sorts of skills to the backcountry?
CC: Well, it's always a different scenario depending on the terrain I'm skiing, but I definitely love to bring tricks to natural features when the conditions are right, so I'm always looking for some nice cliffs and cornices, and longer lines where I can bring everything together; some good turns, steep shots, and air time!  I grew up without a park, so I learned to ski the whole mountain and turn everything into my playground. I tend to build a lot of backcountry jumps too. It's really fun to learn new tricks and play in the park, but I've always loved skiing powder more than anything.

TD: How hard is it to stick a trick off of a soft lip in the backcountry as opposed to a hardpacked park edge?
CC: It's quite a bit more difficult, you don't have that firm takeoff to pop off, so setting a trick is usually much more challenging. You need to have some finesse and be light on your feet.  And then landing in powder can be very tricky, you have to be strong. But the more you do it the easier it becomes.

TD: While heliskiing with CMH K2, what kind of features will you be looking for to throw down on?
CC: I'm super excited for the legendary deep powder and hopefully some big pillow lines. And as I mentioned, always looking for nice cliffs with steep landings.

TD: What are you looking forward to most about Heli-Skiing with CMH?
CC: Just stoked to explore new terrain and ski some deep powder. It should be a very unique experience with some cool new people. Getting rides in the heli is always a privilege, too, so I'm looking forward to that!

TD: How old are you?
CC: 27

TD: How long have you been skiing?
25 years or so. Pretty much my whole life.

TD: What is you home ski area?
CC: Sun Valley, Idaho

TD: Any advice for younger riders taking park skills into the backcountry?
CC: Just have fun! It's definitely not easy, but it's worth it, be ready to work hard and struggle a bit.  I encourage kids to get out of the park more often and ski the whole mountain, it'll make you a much better skier.  Skiing powder is the greatest thing on earth. Nothing beats stomping a trick into bottomless powder. 

TD: Have you had any close calls out there?
CC: Not that I can think of; I've been pretty lucky out there so far.

Collin is sponsored by K2 Skis and Saga Outerwear, and will be ripping it up with CMH Heli-Skiing on January 3-7. A ski pro to inspire, CMH guides to mange safety and find the best lines, and you. I'm jealous already.

Photo of Collin surfacing for some fresh air by Alex O’Brien/K2 Skis.

CMH Heli-Skiing 2.0 launches tomorrow!

  
  
  

Today, CMH Guide Training is fully underway at CMH K2, preparing our team for the season and getting everyone in tune with the latest developments in safety, technology and method.

Tomorrow, the first CMH Heli-Skiing trip of the season takes flight from CMH Valemount into the Cariboo Mountains where two metres of snow have already accumulated at treeline.

Last week, the run checks in Revelstoke and CMH K2 revealed fluff enough. The Revelstoke guides shot this video of the team having a bit of fun between the full-throttle preparations it takes to open 11 areas and 15,000 square kilometres of ski terrain.

In other words: CMH Heli-Ski Season is on!

In many ways it seems the same as it ever was; the generous storm machine of Interior BC is pounding the Columbia Mountains with incessant storms, CMH Heli-Ski lodges are being stocked for a winter of hosting skiers and snowboarders in powder paradise, and snow riders the world over are either planning a trip to the powder epicentre of Revelstoke - or they’re wising they were.

But in other ways this winter is different. Very different. CMH Heli-Skiing has rewritten our own playbook; this is quite a feat considering that we’ve been playing the game for almost half a century.

While regrouping on an old-growth tree run, or sitting around the fire aprés ski, you and our other guests have been telling us you’d like to see some changes. So we listened. Here’s what we heard:

  • You want more small group Heli-Skiing options, so we’ve made the Adamants a small group program where groups of 5 skiers are supported by Bell 407 helicopters.
  • You want more new school Heli-Skiing options, so we joined forces with K2 Skis and this season will be the inaugural winter for CMH K2 and the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge in Nakusp where K2 athletes will be joining CMH Heli-Skiing groups for the Southern Selkirks pillows and powder harvest.
  • You want to experience Private Heliskiing, so we’ve opened McBride to individual bookings so you don’t need to put together an entire group to indulge in the ultimate Heli-Skiing - one group of experienced skiers and the biggest tenure in CMH.
  • You want to help make your own heli-ski plan each day, so we opened two Nomads programs, one in the north, based out of the Gothics Lodge with access to the Monashees, Adamants and Gothics areas, and one in the South, based out of the lakefront Hot Springs Resort and private chalets of Halcyon with access to Revelstoke, Galena, CMH K2 and the Bugaboos.

So next time we’re standing around in the old growth forest, up to our waists in BC pow, catching our breath and talking, be careful what you ask for - you just might get it!

revelstoke powder early season

If you have further questions about what is the right Heli-Ski trip for you, be it a Powder Intro with custom powder skiing instruction, or Steep Shots and Pillow Drops with a K2 athlete, give us a call at 1 (800) 661-0252 to speak with one of our knowledgable reservations agents. After all, the definition of the world’s greatest skiing is not the same for everyone, so we’ve made sure your Heli-Ski vacation is The World’s Greatest Skiing - for you!

Photo and video courtesy of CMH Revelstoke guides, November 22, 2012.

Seth Morrison and team inspire high schoolers at CMH K2 launch

  
  
  

Exciting things are afoot in Nakusp, a small town sandwiched between the waters of the Upper Arrow Lake and the mountainous ski paradise of the Kootenay Rockies in Interior British Columbia. To keep the town informed of the developments at the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge, representatives from CMH Heli-Skiing and athletes from K2 Skis spent a few days getting to know the locals in Nakusp.

CMH K2 Kootenay terrain

The highlight of the event was a gathering of high school kids and K2 athletes including Seth Morrison, Pep Fujas, Reggie and Zach Crist and Andy Mahre. 150 students at the Nakusp high school gathered in the auditorium (During school hours no less!) to hear the legendary skiers speak.

The presentation started with a show of hands of how many kids skied.  Over half the students raised their hands; perhaps not surprising considering the town's location along the Powder Highway. The Powder Highway was described by MSNBC as offering "spectacular views, oceans of downy powder, unequaled variety — it's all part of the allure of the Powder Highway, a collection of authentic rural Canadian ski resorts and one of the last uncovered winter destinations in North America." But with only a tinly local ski hill, skiing isn't the main course it is in the more famous ski towns.

Ski legend Seth Morrison summed it up simply: “Find out what you love to do in life and stick with it.  I focused on skiing when I was in school.  It was the biggest risk I ever took and the best decision I ever made.”

Patty Zinck, from the CMH Heli-Skiing office in Banff, explained the reason for taking the time to connect with the community: “We wanted to warm the town up to the whole CMH and K2 partnership. The kids were thrilled. They were totally jazzed and woohoo-ing. The local paper was even there.”

K2 gave away goodies, kids had posters autographed by their ski heroes, and Pep and Andy are planning to take a day to ski with the local kids at their local hill and campaign for a terrain park when the athletes return this winter to rip it up with CMH Heli-Skiing.

Seth concluded: “After the presentation we talked to some of the kids and it was fun to hear about what they did to go skiing.  Either they had to drive to Nelson, snowmobile into the backcountry, or go to the local hill which is just a single surface lift - cool to see some of them so excited.”

This winter, the K2 invasion of Nakusp will continue, with K2 athletes leading the charge from the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge into the Selkirk Mountain’s over-the-top powder stashes during specialty CMH Heli-Skiing trips that include:

sasquatch seth morrison

It should make for an incredible season in Nakusp, and the town’s support of our new collaboration with K2 has been phenomenal. Now if only we can keep Sasquatch under control.

CMH Freeriding - Dreamtime or Reality?

  
  
  

Yesterday, I received a note from Mike Aucoin, a mountain guide from CMH Revelstoke and co-host of the latest CMH Powder U Program, Powder 405: Freeride Camp based in the legendary powder epicentre of Revelstoke, BC.

First, he asked the obvious question: "How can I best characterize Freeride as a ‘new’ concept in Heli-Skiing and why now?"

freeride revelstoke

Then he answered his own question, brilliantly putting to words the intangible magic the new crop of rockered skis from our friends at K2, a Bell 212 Helicopter, the snowiest mountains in Canada, a team of experienced mountain guides, and the desire to ride the mountain like we ride in our dreams - CMH Heli-Freeriding: 

"Helicopter skiing has always had a uniquely ‘free’ component to it because of the swift access to an unbelievable selection of deeply snow-covered mountains. Then there’s the unparalleled feeling you get looking back at your signature in the powder after an exhilarating and awe-inspiring run. For me, the most relevant motivation to promote CMH freeriding began with the occasional skier or boarder in the group who would ask, 'Can we do some freeriding today?'

"This simple request always made me smile, and every time someone asks for freeriding, I understand the root of the question.  The comment would often come from someone relatively new to heli-skiing, an individual who may have been experiencing this feeling of freedom on skis for the first time, away from the lifts of a resort, far from a line of people waiting for one part of their local mountain to open up after a snowfall. This is the time and place to demonstrate what you’ve envisioned for so long.

"It only makes sense since ‘Freeriding’ has become an established part of the skiers’ and boarders’ vocabulary. It’s how you see a feature on the mountain and imagine just how you would soar through it. For one skier it could mean laying out a deep carve in a long untracked field, while others see themselves riding up on a rib or shoulder and slashing a big plume of powder in the air before accelerating down the next steep roll. It could mean picking your way through a narrow gully to ride a unique part of the mountain, or just letting those dogs run on a remote mountainside.

"I have always looked at these mountains through those eyes. Constantly evaluating how fun it would be to ride a particular feature on the mountain in my own fashion. Until recent changes have surfaced in ski design and technique, the reality rarely mirrored the vision. Today, many strong skiers can now enjoy the sensation of expanding the arc of the turn in powder like never before, and still dump speed with a quick brake check while flying through knee deep powder. The concept of a specific ‘freeride Heli-Skiing’ trip is to provide the opportunity to those who want to feel the mountain in a new way and truly express their will on the hill.

"Your guides have spent years working in these mountains and recognize when it is appropriate to access the terrain that is suitable for this kind of skiing. While skiing, we will discuss hazards specific to particular features while evaluating changes in snow quality and stability. As in everything we do, safety is our chief concern. We have two guides dedicated to the group each day to allow flexibility in the group. Not only will the guide provide the terrain decision and safety management, but they will also provide instruction and video analysis - and of course large doses of fun skiing in big mountains.

"If you are a strong skier who knows what rocker is, come ride with us and we’ll show you why rocker is.  It’s sure to be a blast."

freeride canada

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Four foot powder dump in the Bugaboos already!

  
  
  

First of all, I’ll start with an apology.  This is a bit like reporting on a great vintage a year early, before even a single person gets to pop a cork.  So I’m sorry to do this to you. Believe me, I'm suffering for it too.

But the snow at CMH Bugaboos is already incredible.  Dave Cochrane, the CMH Bugaboo Lodge area manager is always keen to share what he sees out there and this is what he sent in yesterday:

“We were out today hiking in Septet Creek, that is where you find the ski runs Groovy West, Groovy East and Groovy Ass.

The landings are at 2550m and we picked up at 2130m. We found snow up to 130-140 cm. (That’s four feet deep!) below the ridge line and at the pickup an honest 50cm of fairly well settled snow and an average on the run of 80-120 cm.

The snow cover on those runs is really good and settled enough it would make for really great skiing. I definitely could run a ski program at the moment in the Groovy area.”

The day before yesterday, the Bugaboos team sent in these photos. 

bugaboos early snow

Last summer I was talking to one of the CMH ski guides and I asked him if he’d noticed any big changes in the skiing conditions in recent years.  With the huge drought last season in the States, I was wondering what might be happening to our beloved snow. 

He replied, “Compared to historical records, our snowfall in recent years is spot on.”

Last season's snowfall in the Revelstoke region, where all the CMH Heli-Ski areas are located, would certainly support this. Excellent skiing all winter. The 2010-2011 season in the Revelstoke region? Excellent skiing all winter. The 2009-2010 winter in the Revelstoke region? Great early season skiing, spotty in places during high season, and great late season skiing. It's not called the world's greatest skiing because of the region's grooming capability...

I also spoke with Dave Cochrane last summer. In fact, I was poking a bit of fun at him because  he’s a huge fan of corn skiing and I knew it had dumped all spring in the Columbia Mountains leaving little time for the sunshine to form the velvety springtime corn snow.

I asked, “Dave, did you miss corn skiing last year?”

His reply: “Nope. The spring powder skiing has been so good the last few years that I haven’t really missed corn skiing at all. In the spring it’s just kept dumping and we’ve been skiing powder right up to the end of the season.”

So much for making a ski guide miss corn snow.

The big question is: what does all this mean for this year?

western Canada early winter

Dave concluded his letter to the CMH Heli-Skiing office in Banff: “So,,,,it’s only the third week in October and anything can happen but it is looking very promising so far.”

My read? It dumped four feet in the Bugs and Dave wants to go skiing.

The effect his report has on me? It dumped four feet in the Bugs and now I want to go skiing too.

Looking at the photos I can’t help but see the snow being whirled into the sky from the rotor wash, the rippled ridges of deep powder already taking on the seductive lines of winter drifts.  I can’t help but daydream of the feel of snowflakes on my face, the giddy roller coaster-feel of arcing through bottomless powder, and the winter vistas changing with every breath.

Dave, do us all a favor and stop sending in these brutal reports - it isn’t ski season yet!

Or is it?

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