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!
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!
“Quality.” Replied Joe Flannery, the new President of CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures, when I asked him what CMH is all about. “Quality of snow. Quality of experience. Quality of guides and staff. Quality of helicopters. Quality of lodges. Quality of the alpine ethic.”
Last month I had breakfast with Joe in Denver, Colorado where he was attending the SIA trade show. I was thinking he might give me a laundry list of the changes he was planning with CMH, but before the waiter even poured coffee, Joe made it clear that his role was not to make a laundry list of changes, but rather to get educated about the complex workings and then to ensure the future vitality of one of the world’s most established and respected mountain tourism companies.
He did explain that there were some things he saw no need to change, including CMH operations in the field. “The product doesn’t need to be reinvigorated,” he explained. “The product is the best in the world.”
And Joe knows something about quality. In the three years after he finished undergraduate studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, he went from a financial analyst, to a startup employee, to a product director for Nike. He then spent a decade working for Adidas in Bavaria, the mountainous region in southern Germany, where he headed Adidas’ billion-dollar sports heritage division. After returning to the United States, Joe landed a job as the Global VP of The North Face, and helped the company to grow 300% during his tenure.
During his free time in Europe, the United States, and now Canada, Joe picked up a wide range of outdoor sports including skiing, snowboarding, surfing, rock climbing, mountaineering and cycling. As he puts it, humbly: “I’m a participant in all. Expert in none.”
To lead CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures, Joe moved his wife and six-month-old child from San Francisco, California to Banff, Alberta, to be close to the heart and soul of CMH. “There is so much energy in this company,” he said, explaining his reason for immigrating to take the job, “it doesn’t make sense to be the leader and not be there.”
After a second cup of coffee, he shared a simple three-part plan for, as he put it, “making sure CMH is as successful in the future as it has been in the past.” First, learn as much as possible about the legacy, the present state, and the future potential of CMH; second, dial in the CMH business model to a contemporary, nimble form to match the company’s strong legacy as it moves into the future; and finally, bring greater awareness to the world’s greatest skiing. Joe explained, “We have such a diverse range of guests that we need to customize our voice so it is right for all of them.”
He shared an example of his own learning about the current state of CMH: At the SIA trade show he chatted with Chris Davenport, the visionary skier who has won extreme skiing competitions and skied all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in a single year. Chris joined CMH Heli-Skiing for a week earlier this season and explained to Joe that before the trip he didn’t think skiing with CMH was his kind of thing. Chris went on to explain that the experience had exceeded even his expectations: “I was blown away. It was one of the best skiing experiences I’ve ever had in my life!”
“Even a skier as well-traveled as Chris Davenport didn’t realize what CMH was really all about,” explained Joe, “that means we need to tailor our message a bit better.”
By the time we finished breakfast, I had the strong sense of Joe Flannery’s ultimate goal as President of CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures – to tell the world what CMH is really all about.
Joe concluded with a big smile: “It’s going to be a lot of fun!”
Photo: Joe Flannery (on the right) with CMH General Manager, Rob Rohn, checking out the dreamy ski conditions of this season at CMH Galena. Photo by Mike Welch.
Halloween is almost upon us. The streets and stores are filled with ghosts, goblins and pumpkins, but at CMH our thoughts are focused on the upcoming Heli-Ski season and the reports of early snow fall in the areas is giving us itchy feet. Twenty cms today in the Cariboos!
Here's where you can find our team talking shop in the month of November, 2012. Come on out and check out our new ski film, Ascension:
November 1: Kelowna, BC
Come see CMH K2 Area Manager Peter MacPherson at Fresh Air Concepts from 7-9pm. Details and RSVP.
November 1: San Francisco, CA
If you are south of the boarder you'll find JF Lacombe from the Cariboos with CMH's own Sarah Pearson at The Box from 7-9pm. Details and RSVP.
November 2: Denver, CO
If you didn't get enough of us at our big promo in mid-October, come see CMH Revelstoke Area Manager Steve Chambers and our Colorado rep Brad Nichols at First Friday at the Artwork Network. No RSVP required.
November 2-4: Portland, OR
The original CMH Rep & Legend, Fred Noble will bring his firey passion for skiing to the Portland Ski Fever & Snowboard Show all weekend. No RSVP required.
November 3: Vancouver, BC
Well, it's been ages since we've seen Vancouver, so here we come! Join JF Lacombe at Skiis & Bikes from 7-9pm. Details and RSVP.
November 8-11: Boston, MA
This year CMH Rep Vicki Reynolds and John Entwistle will be raving about the snow along BC's Powder Highway at the Boston Ski Show. No RSVP required.
November 13: Chicago, IL
Sarah, VIcki and JF Lacombe gather in Chicago to talk skiing with the Windy City. Join them at Lake Forest Sports Cars for an evening drinks, appetizers and ski movies. Details and RSVP.
November 29: Calgary, AB
A little closer to home, you'll find us at the Calgary Winter Club. Stay tuned for details.
If we've missed you on this year's tour, drop us a note and we'll see if we can hit a little closer to your home in 2013. Hope to see you out there!
The 2012 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival will kick off tomorrow. While the festival has become a prestigious global showcase for the greatest creative minds in outdoor adventure, we’re proud to announce that the featured lineup opens with a film honouring Banff local, the great historian of Canadian mountaineering and skiing, Chic Scott.
In the opening film at the festival, The Gift, mountaineer and photojournalist Andrew Querner has created a moving discussion on the fragility and importance of history and community. Chic’s perspective as a historian of mountain sport is powerful, and Andrew’s experience as a mountaineer and photographer helps to convey the rich history of mountain sport.
We’re especially excited to see Chic featured in a film. In 2009, Chic completed Deep Powder and Steep Rock, the Life of Mountain Guide Hans Gmoser. The book is the biography of Hans Gmoser, who passed away in 2006. Hans was the founder, and to this day remains the spiritual leader, of Canadian Mountain Holidays.
The Gift was filmed at the Alpine Club of Canada’s Wheeler Hut, BC in January of 2012. Near Rogers Pass, just east of Revelstoke in the heart of Canada’s snowiest mountains, the hut is a fitting place to meditate on the culture and community of mountaineering.
With flickering of firelight in the hut reflecting in his eyes, Chic explains his passion for history, “Mountain climbing is an interesting sport because if you ask the man in the street, ‘Who are the great climbers?’ and then you ask the hard core climbers, ‘Who are the great climbers?‘ you’ll get two totally different answers; whereas, if you ask the man in the street and the professional hockey players, ‘Who are the great hockey players of all time?’, you would get the same answer.”
He further explains his motivations for writing the history of his sport: “Everybody knows the guys and gals who get up Everest, but the climbers out there who have practiced their passion for decades, the best of them are largely unknown.”
The Gift from Andrew Querner on Vimeo.
Chic was a member of the first Great Divide Ski Traverse in 1967, the epic traverse from Banff to Jasper along the icefields and glaciers that cover the continental divide as it winds through the Canadian Rockies. The traverse was completed with wool and cotton clothing and a cotton tent, the best equipment available at the time, but some things haven’t changed since then. Chic’s musings on “mountain time” still ring true. How, after being in the mountains, the worries of life tend to lose importance and life happens in the present, not in the future and not in the past. “You have a simple purpose. Life becomes simple in the mountains.”
Decades later, motivated by a French book on world mountaineering that short-changed Canada by only dedicating one paragraph to his mountainous country, Chic embarked on the biggest project in his career. “Canada probably has more mountains than any nation on Earth, and yet (in that book) there’s one paragraph on Canada. So, I wanted to set the record right.”
The result, Pushing the Limits, The Story of Canadian Mountaineering, took Chic six years of full-time work during which he conducted 95 interviews with leading mountaineers across Canada and completed one of the most comprehensive and artistic histories of mountain sport ever written.
Chic concludes The Gift with an unusual and insightful perspective on history:
“People don’t realize that yesterday is history. History is right behind us."
Image of Chic Scott in front of the Wheeler Hut from the film, The Gift, by Andrew Querner.
There's no question that participating in winter sports is a great way to stay fit and enjoy the long Canadian winters, but sometimes choosing the right gear and learning how to ski or snowboard can be intimidating for many women.
“Being active outside during the cold months is a great way to work in fitness, stress relief and fun,” says Ellen Slaughter of CMH Heli-Skiing. “But learning about a new sport, and how to fit something else into our already busy lives can be overwhelming. We created Women in Winter as a way to get women in Calgary together to learn about winter sports in a fun, engaging place.”
Women in Winter aims to inspire women to stay fit and active and have fun throughout the winter, and to connect women with other women looking to get out into the mountains and play. This innovative event is the brainchild of the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) in partnership with CMH Heli-Skiing and Ski Cellar Snowboard, and hosted by Calgary media personality Nirmala Naidoo.
Women in Winter, encompasses many elements of winter sport; from fashion to gear fittings, as well as learn about various programs available at independent operators. Attendees will also be entered for a chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes, including ski gear, winter clothing, vacation packages from RCR and a grand prize of a complimentary spot on the CMH Girl Po(w)der 101 ski trip this March 14 - 18 in Revelstoke, British Columbia.
“The goal of Women in Winter is to get women out to share a fun afternoon with friends, to meet new friends, to be encouraged to put themselves and their health first by staying active and fit,” explains Jean Hunt, Manager, Ski Cellar Snowboard . “Too often women put themselves last - they often spend their time ensuring that their kids are participating in winter sports without discovering the pleasures and benefits of our spectacular mountain playground for themselves."
Women in Winter takes place Sunday, October 14, 2012 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at Mount Royal University in the Ross Glen Hall. Parking is free, and the $5 admission fee at the door will be donated to the Canadian Avalanche Foundation. Space is limited – participants must register online at www.cmhski.com/womeninwinter by October 9, 2012.
The snow has started to fly in the Bugaboos so that must mean that ski season is on it's way. What that also means is that CMH Heli-Skiing is on the way to a city near you to spread the 'stoke.
We hope you'll join us for some good food, the launch of our new ski movie "Ascension" and some great ski chat with CMH Heli-Ski guides and our local reps.
October 5 - Denver, CO
-First Friday at the Artwork Network, 6-10pm. No RSVP required.
October 11 - Washington, DC
-Winter Kick-Off at the Navy Memorial, 6:30 - 9:30pm. RSVP & Details here.
October 14 - Calgary, AB
-Women in Winter in partnership with RCR and Ski Cellar/ Snowboard, 1-4pm. RSVP & Details here.
October 17 - Denver, CO
-Winter Kick-Off, Battery 621, 7-9pm. RSVP & Details here.
October 19 - Marblehead, MA
-Ambassador event with Dick Knight, 7-9pm. RSVP & Details here.
October 25 - Montreal, PQ
-Winter Kick-Off, 5:30 - 8pm. RSVP & Details here.
October 26-28 - Seattle, WA
-Seattle Ski Fever and Snowboard Show. Details here.
October 27 - Toronto, ON
-With Skiis & Biikes, 7-9pm. RSVP & Details here.
We hope to see you out and about this fall. We have lots of great stories to tell, including the launch of CMH K2, Private Weeks, Women's Powder Intro and more. Subscribe to The Heli-Ski Blog to stay ontop of our 2012 Roadshow Schedule - November dates to follow soon!
CMH Heli-Skiing + K2 Skis = CMH K2 Rotor Lodge
What happens when two of the coolest ski industry icons get together over a few beers in Nakusp, BC? CMH K2, that's what. CMH K2 is a revolutionary Heli-Skiing operation that accesses the deep powder stashes of British Columbia’s famed Kootenay region. With a revamped lodge aptly named the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge in Nakusp, BC, CMH K2 offers passionate skiers great skiing combined with K2's legendary mad-cap style of fun and excitement. What's more, every CMH K2 skier will get a free pair of their favourite K2's. Sign me up, you say? Read on!
Destined to join legendary names like the Bugaboos, Cariboos and Monashees as a world renowned heli-ski destination, CMH K2 will have heli-ski programs to suit any skier starting with K2 athlete hosted trips and ski testing with K2's in-house design team.
Kicking off in January, K2’s top athletes will host individual heli-ski trips, including:*
Steep Shots and Pillow Drops- Learn from the best, in the best conditions.
• Jan.3-7 with Collin Collins
• Feb. 18-23 with Andy Mahre
Athlete Ski Trips- Perfectly sized groups for optimal group dynamics and plenty of fresh lines and fun to be had by all.
• Jan.7-12 - athlete to be announced
• Jan. 12-17 with Reggie Crist and Zach Crist<
Film School- Fine tune photo and film skills while capturing the most adrenaline-filled face shots to share with jealous friends at home.
• Feb. 4-9 with Pep Fujas
Women’s Trip- Where girls can be girls and get after it.
• Jan. 21-26 with Kim Reichhelm
* Each professional skier is committed to the trips as listed, but sometimes injuries or other circumstances may prevent their appearance on the trip. Should that occur, CMH K2 will do the very best to have another prominent K2 athlete attend the trip.
CMH K2 Demo Days Are Back!
In March CMH K2 Demo Days are back. These sessions provide heli-skiers a chance to test a variety of prototype K2 powder skis. K2 designers will be there to offer demos and receive feedback that they will use to fine-tune the final product. As with all Heli-Ski trips at CMH K2, guests will earn a free pair of 2013-14 K2 skis. Demo-Days are scheduled for March 4-7, March 7-10 and March 10-13.
“Partnering with CMH presents K2 with not only with a world-class winter playground to test powder skis in the most ideal waist-deep conditions and endless terrain, but also gives our athletes and us a chance to connect with a broad range of skiers,” said K2’s Mike Gutt. “Specifically during the Demo Days, the skier’s feedback is applied to the development of the our powder and softer snow oriented skis. It’s “Serious Fun,” the guests can focus on having “fun” and K2 focuses on the “serious” side of getting consumer feedback.”
“We're so excited about expanding our relationship with K2” said CMH's Marty von Neudegg. “The real beneficiaries will be our guests who are lucky enough to experience CMH K2 for themselves. K2 will bring their leading-the-way technology, fun people and genuine love of skiing to CMH K2.”
After dreamy days of skiing endless powder throughout the 1,155 sq km heli-ski terrain offered within the Selkirk and Monashee ranges, skiers return to the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge to chill or partake in some K2-influenced fun. With easy access from Calgary, Kelowna or Spokane, the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge is perfect for passionate skiers looking for a quick heli trip with great terrain and funky, retro accommodations.
And don't be surprised if you climb into the helicopter to find a Sasquatch stole your seat.
To learn more about CMH K2 and to book, check out www.cmhski.com/k2 or call 1-800-661-0252.
We’ve all stood in awe, watching one-legged skiers navigate a steep run; the outrigger skis on poles carving alongside the one ski, their single ripped quad absorbing G-forces, the balance of the skier making our own bipedal battles with gravity seem trivial.
But who had the idea to try skiing with one leg in the first place?
And what is the story that led to such a fantastic pursuit for so many people?
Well, I just found out. And it’s an even better story than I’d ever imagined:
It started with a cyclist, skier and speed skater named Paul Leimkuehler. After competing in the 1936 Olympic cycling trials, he left his beloved world of sports and travelled overseas to fight in WWII.
Leimkuehler found himself in the legendary Battle of the Bulge, considered by many historians to be the greatest battle in the history of the US Military. Emerging with his life, but missing a leg, Leimkuehler returned to the United States and a different world.
With the motivation of a professional athlete, Leimkuehler committed the rest of his life to making life better for amputees. After designing his own artificial leg, he started the Leimkuehler Limb Company in 1948 and went on to develop a system that would allow him to return to the slopes.
Rather than try to ski on his artificial leg, he designed small outrigger skis to be fastened on the end of poles, so he could stand on his one leg and balance with the outriggers. This is the same method amputee skiers use today.
Leimkuehler went on to star on the lecture circuit, become part of the National Ski Hall of Fame, the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, and the National Disabled Skier Hall of Fame.
But that’s not the biggest news.
Now, his granddaughter, Katie Leimkuehler, is working on a screenplay about her grandfather’s life. The trailer for the film, “Ski Pioneer” is an inspiring glimpse into the potential depth of the project. From footage of Leimkuehler racing on his bike, to developing his own prosthesis, to ripping difficult terrain in a ski area with his ski invention, the trailer promises great things.
“It’s about his great life accomplishments from losing his leg in World War II, to overcoming it by creating his own artificial leg, and eventually designing ski outriggers,” she said.
However, the project is yet to receive the support to take the idea from concept to reality. Katie, a journalist and creative writer by profession, has written the screenplay, but is currently looking for the resources to produce the film. Check out the captivating trailer here:
Any intersted film producers or ski history afficionados can contact Katie through her website.
One summer day in the late 80s, the CMH Heli-Skiing office in Banff received a call explaining that a young mountain guide named Rob Rohn had been hit by an ice avalanche in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. With a fractured spine and a broken leg, Rob needed helicopter evacuation - but the Peruvian government would not initiate the rescue without $17,000 up front to cover the cost.
Marty Von Neudegg, who was in the CMH office when the call came in, remembers the day. Hans Gmoser, CMH founder, and Mark Kingsbury, the charismatic president of CMH Heli-Skiing at the time who helped develop the close relationships CMH Heli-Skiing enjoys with international skiers and agents, were both in the office to decide what, if anything, could be done to help Rob - who was a seasonal ski guide for CMH, and off-duty, at the time of the accident.
In Bugaboo Dreams, the book about CMH and the invention of heli-skiing, I wrote about Rob's accident:
“There was little discussion,” remembers Marty, “Hans and Mark just said to send the money right away.” The helicopter rescue was initiated as soon as the money was wired to Peru. CMH recovered the money through Rob’s insurance, but at the time the decision was made to pay for the rescue, recouping the money was not even mentioned.
Rob explained the caring demonstrated by Hans and Mark in a way many modern executives would do well to take to heart: “The commitment the company had towards me strengthened my commitment to the company.”
Rob began guiding for CMH in 1984, in 1991 he began managing CMH Bobbie Burns, and in 2001 took over as Director of Mountain Operations.
As of May 2012, Rob’s commitment to CMH Heli-Skiing has opened a new chapter with his promotion to General Manager of CMH Heli-Skiing and CMH Summer Adventures. Rob follows in the footsteps of Hans, Mark, and most recently Walter Bruns - three other mountain guides who have directed the day-to-day operations of CMH Heli-Skiing with heart and soul for the last 47 years.
Nearly half a century of leadership by experienced mountain guides has, in no small part, helped CMH Heli-Skiing to remain highly respected as a professional, community and industry leader worldwide. Rob is also the current president of HeliCat Canada and a former board member of the Canadian Avalanche Association.
Photos of Peru's Cordillera Blanca and Rob Rohn skiing near Revelstoke in January, 2012, while helping to setup the new CMH private heliski program, Nomads South, by Topher Donahue.
This January, CMH Heli-Skiing is placing a 7-day Signature Heli-Ski trip (2013 season) up for online auction in support of ALS and our amazing friend & colleague Fred Noble.
Over 38 years ago, Fred Noble began his career with CMH Heli-Skiing as the original North American Sales Rep. He joined the CMH team solely because of his passion for the sport and his personal drive to share this amazing experience with as many friends as possible. Fred has heli-skied throughout all of CMH's areas, dug snow pits with the guides, loaded luggage into the helicopter, helped out in the kitchen, and skied amazing amounts of vertical with his friends and family. More importantly, Fred has made literally thousands of friends from around the globe and inspired even more with his tenacious view of the world and his ability to overcome any obstacle thrown his way.
On December 12, 2010, Fred was given the diagnosis of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Upon this diagnosis, he was introduced to The ALS Association Oregon and SW Washington Chapter. The chapter's amazing team of experts have come on board to offer both Fred and his family support in dealing with the myriad of issues that arise when dealing and learning to live with ALS.
Fred Noble is an important part of the colourful fabric that makes up CMH. Since his diagnosis he has embraced his life even more fully, travelling to Turkey last May and South America in August. This coming March he will be celebrating his 75th birthday with a lodge full of friends and family in the Bugaboos.
Recently, Fred has worked hard to organize a fundraising campaign with The Ski To Defeat ALS, an event taking place at Mount Hood Meadows in April, in honour of The ALS Association Oregon and SW Washington Chapter and its vital mission. CMH is pleased to support this initiative by placing a 7-day Signature trip up for online auction with all funds raised going directly to this campaign.
PLACE YOUR BID, between Jan 1 - 13, 2012 and help further the mission of fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease! All proceeds will be donated directly to The Ski to Defeat ALS in honour of Fred Noble and CMH's partnership with The ALS Association.
This trip is valued at $10,770 CAD - and can be used to book any 7-day Signature Heli-Ski space for one person during the 2013 season (subject to availability).
Auction Opens: Sunday, January 1, 2012 @ 10:00 MST
Auction Closes: Friday, January 13, 2012 @ 10:00 MST
To PLACE A BID go to http://cmh.auctionanything.com
Need help placing a bid? Just contact us at CMH and we can help. 1-800-661-0252 or email email@example.com Please be generous - all proceeds support the fight against ALS!
*Update, January 13: The auction is now closed and we are excited to announce that the winning bid was $11,000 for ALS. Thank you to all of you who bid on the space and shared word of the auction. Thanks for showing your support for Fred Noble and the Fight Against ALS.