Photographer and writer Andrea Johnson got to live her dreams in the Bugaboos last winter. Here's what she had to say about the realization:
I’ve dreamt of the complete freedom and incomparable adrenalin rush of helicopter skiing & snowboarding for the past twenty years. My expectations were high, yet these visions were exceeded by my CMH Heli-Skiing experience in the most surprising ways.
I learned to ski at the age of 9 from my grandfather, Andy Hennig, who was an Austrian Ski instructor at Sun Valley, Idaho until the age of 77. He was a legend in his own right teaching the Hemingway family and countless celebrities while working with Warren Miller in the early days of the adventure ski films. This lifestyle made an unforgettable impression, so in my mid 20’s I took a job at a snowboard company, hired photographers for marketing campaigns, and watched endless ski and snowboard films to fuel the fire.
Fast forward 15 years and my dream had nearly slipped away. I used the same excuses of lacking time, money, and fitness that most of us justify in delaying such adventures. Additionally last summer I lost my snowboarding partner of 15 years, Dale Johnson, who died in a tragic accident before he had the chance to heli snowboard – #1 on his bucket list. As life teaches us through unexpected circumstances, I found my dream reignited through the inspiration of Fred Noble.
Fred has heli-skied over 7 million vertical feet with CMH as their North American Agent, choosing to use his commissions in trade for heli-ski time during the past 38 years. This trip was his most challenging yet – 18 months ago Fred was diagnosed with ALS and he has lost all mobility in his legs. He was determined to celebrate his 75th birthday at the Bugaboos with the first descent on a sit ski, and I was there to help capture the event for a documentary film on his life (see next blog entry for this story). The experience was bittersweet, his unquenchable spirit contagious, and by watching Fred overcome obstacles of this magnitude I realized my excuses were miniscule in comparison.
In reality all of my concerns vanished the minute the helicopter dropped us off besides the magnificent Bugaboo Spires. CMH invented heli-skiing at the Bugaboos over 45 years ago and they’ve perfected the experience. The first day our group of 10 women, one man, and two guides had countless fresh tracks on a perfect bluebird day offering unlimited access to the high alpine glaciers.
On the second afternoon when many guests opted for a rest I had the chance to join a group of guides, staff, and several skiers with over a million vertical feet at CMH. At first I was intimidated, but soon found that my level of riding rose to the occasion. Cannon Barrel run was in perfect condition to rip with unrestrained speed: In a few minutes our group traveled over 2,000 vertical feet, stopping only once for a brief rest. I can still hear the hoots and hollers of my fellow skiers, tele-markers, and riders – we made three epic runs that are seared in my mind as my most unforgettable riding experience.
My fellow skiers were fun and relaxed, and our camaraderie was always high. Though we had both expert and virgin heli-skiers, we were a very compatible and tight knit group. I enjoyed not having to fight for my turn to go first and the shouts of encouragement as everyone continued to gain confidence and improve. As a tomboy, I’ve been accustomed to fighting alpha males for position in adventure sports. I had honestly never considered the fact that I could have more fun joining a group of women who would push my limits – but in a joyful, non-competitive way.
Mid week a series of storms dumped 1-2 feet of fresh snow each day. These conditions were ideal for extensive tree runs with the lightest deepest powder I’ve ever encountered. One morning I rode with the chef, another snowboarder, enjoying the long easy lines through the trees. Each of us paired up with a buddy and made our own unique call to each other as we traveled; I can still hear the yodel of Seth, our Austrian guide, echoing through the forest.
Everything at CMH is world class, and after a long day on the mountain nothing beats a soak in the hot tub. This was my daily ritual, and on the days when my body gave out I indulged in a 45-minute deep tissue massage expertly applied to the areas most in need of recovery.
It’s tradition on the last evening of the week to dress up in costume, share stories and skits from the most entertaining parts of the trip, and join a dance party after dinner. My only regret from my experience was not conditioning better in advance – next time I’ll be prepared for the endless activity!
This trip broke nearly every stereotype and concern I had of heli-skiing. Groups ranged in age from 30 to 75 years old and from expert to first time heli-skiers of varying fitness levels and expertise. Over half our group were women, and though I was the lone snowboarder much of the time, the guides were careful to take me on alternative routes to avoid flats or let the group break the trail when traverses were unavoidable. The one thing we all shared was an unquenchable thirst for skiing or snowboarding; sharing the week with like-minded, passionate adventurers is an incredible experience I’m now addicted to relive as often as possible.
Photos and story by Andrea Johnson.
It must be summertime. I dreamt of skiing last night, which for some reason doesn't happen in the winter. A couple of days ago my daughter asked me when we could go skiing again. My wife came into my office this morning while I was looking through winter photos from Revelstoke. She stopped and stared. Then said wistfully, “I’m already sick of summer.”
It's clear that I'm not the only one beginning to dream about frosty mornings, cold face shots, blinding white alpine vistas, and the exhilarating rush of downhill speed in deep snow.
So I went through my collection and put together these 5 dream-like ski photos to help us all through the longest days of the year.
Just a cool December lift ride, like here at the Sunshine ski resort near Banff, at minus 30C sounds refreshing right now:
But full-body powder immersion like this snowboarder at CMH Galena sounds even better:
Here’s the shot that sent my wife into fits of wintersickness, a lone ski track in the Revelstoke high country:
Dreamtime in the Bugaboos - where heliskiing began:
And finally, a dreamscape at CMH Monashees, one of several CMH areas known worldwide for the most exciting tree skiing on the planet:
If these photos are too painful to look at right now, my apologies. If these photos get you inspired for a bike ride to keep the legs in shape, or to plan a ski trip, you’re welcome.
Photos by Topher Donahue.
"I don’t know what that is, but it’s not skiing.” I overheard one heliskier say to another as they watched one of the group's last skiers make their way to the lunch spot at CMH Bobbie Burns. “Look. He started way over there on the left, crossed all our tracks, and skied down the other side. That’s not skiing!”
It was one of those perfect bluebird days with CMH, with the mountains generously blanketed in easy-to-ski powder, and a group of guides who were fired up about getting in as much skiing as a twin-engine jet helicopter could provide.
Everyone was having a blast, and even the skier who was irritated by the cutting of the tracks didn’t stay grumpy for long. But it made me wonder. What is up with our fascination with tracks in the snow?
I enjoy looking back up the hill at ski and snowboard tracks as much as anyone. The tracks tell a story. The long arcs of the snowboarders, the symmetrical lines left by good powder skiers, the chaotic patterns of a heavily skied powder slope that shows the crashes, the timid traverses, the big airs, landing craters, the speed demon's lines, and slow zen-like lines all reveal the fun of a powder day.
There are still a few heliski groups who choose to adhere to the "Arlberg style" where each track spoons agains the next, leaving a perfect comb-like pattern. Largely, however, thanks first to snowboarding and now to big mountain freeskiing, diversity is the name of the game and each skier, safety and space allowing, can leave their own mark, from straight-lines, to 50-metre arcs, to tight parabolas.
Joe Vallone, a new-school ski pro who has skied the Eiger, is a skilled jibber in the terrain park, an experienced alpine climber and UIAGM Mountain Guide, says, “I like to make every kind of turn I know on every run I make.”
Some might argue that snowshoes don’t leave as nice of a track as skis or snowboards, but French artist Simon Beck, after foot problems forced him to give up running, began making massive patterns in the snow while wearing snowshoes, sometimes working several days on a design like the one below. More if his spectacular snow art can be seen here.
Even in the summertime, leaving tracks in the snow is a blast, as shown below in a photo by CMH hiking guide Lyle Grisedale of a Bugaboos-sized bumslide during a CMH Summer Adventures fun-fest. These adventure travellers might have ridden a zipline over a canyon the day before, and climbed a via ferrata the next day; standard fare with CMH Summer Adventures.
In the concluding lines of Bugaboo Dreams, the book about the invention and state-of-the-art of heliskiing, I wrote: “There is poetry to it: perhaps the most fitting monuments to his (Hans Gmoser) team’s contribution to the mountains are the countless tracks left beside each other each winter in the snows of the Columbias, as impermanent as one man’s life, yet telling a story of excitement and friendship in the mountains.”
The news of the most epic early season snowpack ever in the Canadian Rockies is getting entirely over the top. Over the last week I have received several reports of ski conditions that are unbelievable for this time of year, even in the deep powder heliskiing paradise of Western Canada.
The first was from CMH Bugaboos manager Dave Cochrane, who spent a couple of days ski touring above the CMH Cariboo Lodge near his home in Valemount, BC. After the first day, here’s what he had to say:
“This is Dave Cochrane, back in my old stomping grounds in the Cariboos. I just had the pleasure of joining Doug Dowling on a ski tour up the ever daunting Neckroll ski run. We skied from the Lodge up the switchbacks on the Neckroll road, to the avalanche path which is the main part of the run.
We started with 50 cm on the ground at the lodge, very supportive snowpack, with about 15 cm of ski penetration in fluff. At the top of the logging road where it meets the chute at 1450m there is 70-80 cm of well supported snow. We skied to the top of the slide path to the “low heli landing” on the skier’s left of the slide path. There, at 1780m we had 120 cm. Lower down in the chute @ 1680m. there was 100 cm At the heli landing the ski penetration is 25 cm and the boot penetration is about 35 cm. The boot penetration tells a good story for early season snowpack, not much penetration and the boots don’t go any further in since the snowpack is so supportive.
The downhill run was truly outstanding in an average of 25 cm of super powder with a great support, no breaking through in weak snow anywhere. If I had to open heli skiing today here, based on my limited observations, the skiing story on Neckroll would certainly make it a good opening.
I am hoping to return here tomorrow for some more skinning up and great shredding going down. Since 10:00 this morning it has been snowing steadily at just less than 1 cm an hour, with thick overcast skies.”
The next day, Dave sent this follow up:
“I skied up Neckroll again today. I just couldn't get enough yesterday. Where I took my skins off at 1780 m. the same high point I went to yesterday, there was 25 cm. of new overnight snow, making for spectacular skiing on the way down. The storm today was very intense with strong winds all day and while I was skiing there this morning it was snowing 2 cm. an hour. We had warm temperatures and rain in the town of Valemount, but as soon as one left town for the mountains it was snowing hard. Keep it coming!”
Then I received a note from a long time CMH guest who forwarded me an email from Rob Rohn, the Director of Mountain Operations at CMH Heli-Skiing:
“Hello everyone – We’ve had a really great start to the winter with a snowpack that’s well above average. There’s a meter and a half to two meters at tree line with a very solid base already. Konrad went for a ski tour today in the Adamants and had good skiing to the lowest pick up on Bungee at 1200 m. We’re all wishing we were open now! So spread the word that the best skiing on the planet is out there waiting for our first guests to show up. Anyone who’s been contemplating an early season trip should get off the couch – winter has arrived!
See you on the slopes!”
Just this morning, I received this note from Rob, who is just finishing up CMH Guide Training at CMH Monashees:
"It’s snowing again and we’re expecting a substantial accumulation over the day. I was just talking to the long time Monashee guides this morning and none of them can remember a year with this much snow and such a solid snowpack this early. It’s like mid-winter out there. A couple of days ago we skied Come Again to the bottom at 950 m and it was really good all the way. Some winters it doesn’t get that good that low ever! All the big tree runs in Soards Creek are in prime condition. It really is a phenomenal start to the season and our first guests are going to enjoy some incredible skiing."
Photo of ski touring on Rogers Pass near Revelstoke by CMH Guide Marty Schaffer during November 2011.
There are still a few spaces left in the helicopter for the most epic early season heliskiing ever - give CMH Reservations a call at (800) 661-0252.
Renowned architect and mountaineer Philippe Delesalle, the visionary behind the design of the remote CMH Heli-Skiing lodges, has been awarded the 2011 Summit of Excellence Award at this year’s Banff Mountain Festival for his architectural innovations on remote buildings in the heavy snowfall and harsh conditions of the Canadian Rockies.
Philippe emigrated from France in 1951 and took work as a lumberjack, among other jobs, before attending architecture school at McGill University in Montreal. An interest in adventure introduced him to skiing and mountaineering, and while learning to ski and working as a lifty at Sunshine Village Ski Resort, he met Hans Gmoser, the founder of CMH Heli-Skiing. At the time, Hans was working at the remote Mt. Assiniboine Lodge, and would use the ski lifts at Sunshine to begin his 25km ski commute to work.
In 2006 I had the honor of interviewing Philippe while researching Bugaboo Dreams, the book that chronicles the invention of heliskiing. Philippe first met Hans while working at the Sunshine ski lift. During my interview, with misty eyes and a warm expression, Philippe recalled meeting Hans: “This tall guy, who looked like Jesus Christ with a big pack, would come out of no man’s land, ask for a lift, and then disappear back into no man’s land.”
Philippe became one of Hans’ closest friends and adventure partners, sharing epic trips to Mt. Logan in the Yukon, pioneering long-distance ski traverses in the Rockies, and countless adventures in Little Yoho and the Bow Valley near Banff. As Hans’ heliski invention took off, he recruited Philippe to design the remote heli-skiing lodges in the Bugaboos, Cariboos, Bobbie Burns and Adamants.
Philippe describes his philosophy behind his design of the CMH Heli-Skiing lodges simply as creating a place where skiers can “live above the snow, looking out at the mountains.”
Philippe also designed the Lodge at Sunshine Village, the Sapphire Col Hut near Rogers Pass, and the original remote and exposed Alpine Club of Canada huts on the Wapta Icefield. “The most difficult site presents opportunity for the most interesting buildings.” says Philippe. WIth such a vision, Philippe’s architectural mastery was a cornerstone in the entire epic project of remote wilderness heliskiing in Western Canada, and he has created a lasting legacy of functionality and beauty with the design of the CMH Heli-Skiing lodges.
The CMH Heli-Skiing lodges are far more than just hotels; there are no other buildings or infrastructure near the lodges, so they must be complete life support systems that can sustain dozens of people through the most violent storms imaginable and weather many decades of Canadian winters.
For veteran CMH heliskiers, the unique look of a CMH Heli-Skiing lodge out the helicopter window on the approach is both a warm and thrilling sight. For skiers and snowboarders new to CMH Heli-Skiing, the lodge is different than what most people would expect. Rather than overt luxury or imitation of famous ski destination architecture, the CMH Heli-Skiing lodges are like no other buildings anywhere, and Philippe designed them that way on purpose.
He explained, “When Hans said, ‘Build me a lodge.’ he knew I would not give him an Austrian lodge or a French lodge, but a Canadian one.”
At first glance, the rooflines of the CMH Heli-Skiing lodges appear to be overbuilt, but in fact it is an extremely successful design that Philippe introduced to Western Canada. The roof consists of two roofs, a snow-bearing roof and an inner roof separated by a well-ventilated crawl space. This allows the roof to hold the entire winter’s snowpack without shoveling (other than cutting off the occasional cornice that overhangs too far over the edge) because the inner roof can breathe and behave like a roof in a dry climate without ever seeing icing, condensation, or wear and tear from the outside elements.
Now 82 years old, Philippe still skis regularly with his wife Mireille near their home of the last 50 years in Canmore, Alberta. The Summit of Excellence Award is given annually at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival to an individual who has made significant contribution to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies.
Photo of the CMH Cariboos lodge by Topher Donahue.
A recent article in National Geographic on the world’s Top 10 Ski Runs and Lodges brings to mind snow-laden luxury accommodations below mountains laced with fantastical ski lines. We’re proud that Western Canada’s very own Whistler/Blackcomb and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler tops the list, and even closer to home, Banff/Lake Louise and the Fairmont Banff Springs (though not exactly slope-side) is number five.
Interestingly, the article, while it contains “ski runs” in the title, doesn’t mention a single ski run, nor does it include heli-ski areas. The reader can only surmise that the writer intended “ski runs” in the most general sense, and not singular spectacular ski runs. Which for me, as a skier, was a bit of a disappointment. I was truly curious what the iconic National Geographic's list of the world’s top 10 ski runs would include.
Photo of the CMH Monashee Lodge and behind it the kilometre-tall ski run known as Elevator - a ski lodge and ski run that many have called the best in the world. Maybe next time National Geographic will include heli-skiing in their selection...
It's obvious why the article didn't include heli-skiing - heliskiing is so much better than resort skiing as to make comparisons seem absurd. What can compare with the CMH tenture? It is bigger than the rest of North America's ski areas combined!
Also, I can see why the writer chose to weight the article towards lodging rather than skiing. It’s much harder to give both lodging and skiing equal weight in such a selection. Even within CMH there are sometimes heated conversations, especially among the 3,921 guests who have skied over a million vertical feet with CMH, debating which is the best CMH area. Most understand that the whole discussion is subjective, and many ski at different areas every time, but each CMH area has its committed fans who have skied millions of vertical feet exclusively at their favourite CMH area.
So, if you asked CMH heli-skiers and snowboarders to pick their favourite ski run and lodge, which would they choose? The skiing is great everywhere, so some pick their favourite area based partly on the view from the lodge, and pick the Bugaboos or Adamants; others choose based entirely on the volume of steep tree skiing they can shred in a week, and might vote for Galena, Kootenay, or the Monashees; still others choose based on the variety of terrain they can encounter and might pick the Cariboos, Gothics, Bobbie Burns or Revelstoke; some like the most private luxury and mountain experience and would pick the private heli-skiing areas of McBride or Valemount.
Really, such a thing is utterly impossible to judge fairly.
But it’s fun to consider. So, just for the fun of it, what is your favourite CMH ski run and lodge?
In every skier's imagination there is a place on earth that is seemingly crafted for their art. Mountain range after mountain range of terrain screaming to be skied or ridden. Ski resorts in one valley, cat skiing in another and heliskiing in yet another. A place to feed your addiction winter, after winter, after winter.
Such a place does exist and you can find it in the interior ranges of British Columbia, Canada. Find the town of Revelstoke, BC on a map and move your finger (or your mouse) south all the way to the US border and across to the Alberta border. This, my friends, is the Powder Highway.
The interior of BC is like Mecca for skiers and that's why Heli-Skiing was invented right here along the Powder Highway: Mountains legendary for epic snowfall, trees perfectly spaced for skiing, air that is dense, cool and dry (a combination that makes helicopters and helicopter pilots, happy) and massive expanses of undeveloped, uninhabited land available for skiers and riders looking to rip it up. Not completely uninhabited, the Powder Highway is sprinkled with some charasmatic ski towns populated with friendly folk who share your passion for the powder.
While the best places are often difficult to get to, the Powder Highway is not completely in nowheresville. Major airports in Spokane, WA; Castlegar, Cranbrook, Kelowna and Kamloops, BC; Calgary, AB and others make the area easy to get to for a ski weekend, a ski week or an entire winter.
How do you like your powder? Along the Powder Highway you have plenty of options. Over 60 of them, in fact! You will find:
-8 Alpine Ski Resorts
-9 Heli-Ski Operators (some with multiple areas like CMH Heli-Skiing)
-10 Nordic Ski Resorts
-16 Catskiing Operators
-21 Backcountry lodges that cater to ski-tourers.
Enough to keep you busy for a few winters? Likely.
Apres-Ski? Oh yeah, you'll find that too. Skiers enjoying the alpine and nordic resorts and cat- and heli- operations based in-town can choose from lively bars and local pubs to ice-fishing, hotsprings, dogsledding or curling. No, there's no shortage of things to do on a day off from skiing or in the evenings. For those choosing backcountry options for heliskiing, cat-skiing or ski touring there is a special sort of magic to be found in these lodges that is hard to replicate in town.
In the words of Anne Pigeon from Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, BC, one of the Alpine Resort gems of the Powder Highway "For those that are new to the area, they are blown away when they see the concentration of ski operations in the area. It clearly shows where to go for snow - or we wouldn't all be here!"
So what are you waiting for? Take a ride on the Powder Highway this winter.
Photo: Skiing along the Powder Highway at CMH Revelstoke by Roger Laurilla. CMH has 6 heli-ski areas along the Powder Highway: Kootenay, Nomads, Galena, Revelstoke, Bobbie Burns and CMH Bugaboos (the birthplace of Heli-Skiing).
What would the ultimate mountain guiding career look like? Well, CMH guide Bob Geber demonstrated one variation on the theme when he announced his retirement this spring. It was his 44th season of guiding with CMH Heliskiing.
He summed it up: "I’m mostly proud that I was the oldest heliski guide, and if I had a second life I would do it all over again.”
Let’s put 44 years of heliski guiding into perspective:
- Bob’s first winter guiding with CMH was in the Bugaboos in 1966.
- It was CMH’s second season of operation and the Bugaboos was the only place in the world offering commercial heliskiing.
- Bob was skiing on 215 cm skis for making quick turns during the powder season, and 220cm downhill skis for the corn season in the spring.
- The helicopter could hold 3 people – including the pilot.
- There were no avalanche transceivers.
- The terms “snow” and “science” had yet to be used in the same sentence.
- There were no mountain weather forecasts.
- There were no Run Lists to give guides a team-oriented approach to safety and decision-making.
Also, there were no comfortable heliski lodges
. Instead, the skiers stayed in plywood shacks built for a summertime sawmill camp just downriver from the site of the current Bugaboo Lodge. Every morning the guides
would go around and start a fire in each shack so the skiers could get dressed next to a warm potbelly stove. The guides would then go to the river, chop through the ice and fill buckets with water for the day’s cooking and drinking.
I asked Bob about the changes he’s seen over those 44 years, and he was quick to reply: “When the fat skis came out it was like a new lease on life. Fat skis were the biggest change in the history of heliskiing. Before fat skis, when the snow was bad, even the guides were working hard to make 10 turns before landing on our heads. At the end of the day we were just kaput. But we didn’t know any better.”
While fat skis may have been the highest-profile change, many incremental changes have made modern heliskiing possible - and much safer. Bob shared a story about a helicopter crash in the days before landing flags and long-range radios. In the early 70s, he was guiding a trip for a heliski operation south of the Bugaboos that at had a partnership with CMH.
Without landing flags for reference, the pilot misjudged the landing and crashed. Aside from some cuts and bruises, everyone was unhurt, so they pulled their skis, lunch, and wine (in those days it was standard to bring a couple of bottles of wine for lunch) out of the helicopter and proceeded to wait for a rescue. Without long-range radios or emergency locator beacons, there was no way to call for help, but at some point people would realize they were missing.
The group sat around until they’d eaten all their lunch and drank all their wine, and with no rescue yet forthcoming, they decided they would escape faster if they just skied out. The pilot had no skis, so they pulled the cowling off the helicopter where the rotor enters the fuselage, and used it like a sled.
The system worked well for a while, with the pilot sliding down the steep sections and the skiers pulling him across the flat sections. When the sled bogged down in soft snow on flat terrain, Bob and one of the stronger skiers each gave the pilot, who had zero skiing experience, one of their skis so he could ski on two skis.
That worked well, until the pilot started having fun and decided he wanted to ski down a hill. Bob remembers: “He went about 50 feet, fell over, and started squealing like a pig. We couldn’t figure out what he’d done to himself in such a sort distance and insignificant fall, but I skied up to him and he was holding his leg. Immediately I could see he had somehow gotten a compound fracture. The bone was obviously sticking out against his pants.”
Not long afterwards, a second helicopter found the team, but Bob’s story of the helicopter crashing, and then the pilot breaking his leg while skiing, goes down as one of the wildest days in heliski history.
At 77, Bob still plans to spend as much time as possible in his beloved mountains. When I talked to him a few days ago at his home in Banff, he told me he had just returned from the Lake Louise ski area and he excitedly said, “It was some of the best corn snow I’ve ever skied!”
Bob considers CMH to be his second family and he’s not ready to leave completely, but it is time for him to stop ski guiding. Bob explains his reason for retirement: “When you can’t keep up with the fast skiers anymore, it’s time to hang it up. The most important thing now is that I keep doing the same things – but that I do it on my time.”
From the thousands of skiers you've shared the powder with, and from all of us at CMH: It's been an awesome ride - thanks for everything, Bob!
Have a Bob Geber story you'd like to share?
When a group of young or inexperienced skiers or snowboarders goes heliskiing together, everyone usually prefers to ride as close to the front as possible. Indeed, riding just behind the guide is pretty awesome. The guide sets a nice consistent pace, the tight sections have the most fresh snow, and the expanse of untracked snow around you is beautiful.
However, when a group of experienced skiers, snowboarders or CMH staff (that should tell you something) goes heliskiing together, everyone often jockeys to stay in the back of the group.
Why, you may ask? That means you don’t get as many fresh tracks, right? Hardly. In the front you may get 110 fresh turns on a run, and in the back you might get 104 - making your last six turns before the pickup in other ski tracks. That's hardly enough difference to fret about; besides, there are a number of reasons why many veterans prefer to ride in the back:
- Elbow room. In the back of the group, the others have left a wide swath of tracks, so the remaining skiers can ski farther apart while still skiing safely, in great snow, near the other tracks. Here’s a photo of two skiers jockeying for the number two position behind the guide at CMH Revelstoke:
- Gettin' Jiggy. If you’re in the back, there are more chances to have someone stop below to scope a landing for a jump or technical line. Here’s a photo of skier spotting a snowboarder ripping a wind roll in CMH Bugaboos:
- Picking a Line. You always need to stay near the guide’s track, but after several people ski ahead, you have more freedom to play on terrain features that the first skiers missed with only a single track ahead of them for guidance.
- Speed. If you’re into riding fast, the back is way better. (That's why the CMH staff mostly prefer to ride in the back.) You can let slower skiers go ahead for a bit, you can look ahead to see where the guide is heading far below, and then you can open the throttle without worrying about missing a traverse or getting too far from the guide’s line.
- Visibility. In flat light, the other tracks give definition to the snow and allow for far easier and more agressive skiing.
- The Vibe. It’s just more relaxing at the back. That’s where the CMH staff always rides, and they laugh and smile and get as sweet of lines as anyone out there.
CMH Heliskiing uses Bell 212 helicopters for our Signature Heliskiing, accomodating groups of 11 skiers or riders, and with Bell 407 helicopters for Small Group Heliskiing, accomodating groups of five skiers or riders. These back of the group benefits are applicable to any group size; however, if you are a weaker skier, you'll find skiing right behind the guide is the easiest position.
Exceptional. Epic. Dreamy. Phenomenal. Stonking. Brilliant. Wow. Phat. And in the words of Dave Cochrane, "Dynoooomite."
We heard a lot of adjectives used to describe the 2010/2011 Heli-Ski season here at CMH and saw a lot of amazing ski pictures to prove it.
The season wrapped up for us here at CMH on Saturday, April 30 (which, coincidentally was the last day to take advantage of the 2011/2012 booking incentive and the phone was ringing off the hook here in Banff!) but not for lack of spectacular skiing! Our guests in the Bugaboos last week had another typically fantastic week of spring skiing.
Here's our top 5 skiing pictures from the month of April at CMH Heli-Skiing:
1)We saw smiles like this from December to April from McBride to Kootenay and this day in early April in McBride was no different!
2) Steve Chambers and the team at CMH Revelstoke were almost speechless in early April. This was April 8, the last day of their season and Steve said that he had never skied snow like that in April before in his life!
3) Ok, so just how epic was it? 460 cm in the Crystalline at CMH Bobbie Burns as of April 14.
4) Second last day of the season at CMH Bugaboos. Spring skiing anyone?
5) This is what it all resulted in: Face Shots on April 28, CMH Bugaboos.
And you? What was the highlight of your month? Tell us here in the comments, or post a photo of it on the CMH Facebook page.
Want to see more pics of the 2011 season from CMH? Check out CMH's online photo gallery and be sure to bookmark it for next year!