Grab your girlfriends, your sister, your mom or your daughter. Join us for a FREE, fun afternoon and be inspired to stay active and play outside this winter!
CMH Heli-Skiing has partnered with Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) and Ski Cellar Snowboard, to prove that winter is not a time to hibernate! Enjoy ski movies, fashion shows, personalized ski boot fitting, yoga and fitness demos, and more to get you in the mood for the upcoming snow season. And maybe, just maybe, you'll win yourself a spot with CMH Heli-Skiing on our All Girls Powder 101 ski week or one of the other fabulous prizes donated by our generous sponsors.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
1:00pm to 4:00pm
Ross Glen Hall - Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning
Mount Royal University
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW, Calgary, AB T3E 6K6
> View Google Map
To RSVP and to learn more, visit www.cmhski.com/womeninwinter.
Hope to see you there, Calgary! Space is limited! You must REGISTER ONLINE by Oct. 11th or call 1.800.661.0252
This is a guest post by Becca Blay
Dreaming of Powder? It's time to start building your ski fitness so you can Heli-Ski like this and not end up back in the hot tub after lunch!
Why wait until the snow flies? There is no better way to get excited about skiing than to start getting “ski fit.”
What exactly is being “ski fit” anyway? How do you go about putting a program into place?
It’s simple. After multiple days of heli-skiing, you want to walk away feeling refreshed, not fatigued. The best way to prepare for your season is to start now. If you ease into it, you can build specific core, legs and upper body fitness without the soreness that creeps into your muscles when you are “craming” in your workouts.
Start now. First, book your trip so that you have a goal to work towards. This workout is not gender specific.
August 1-Sept 1:
3 days/week: 3 sets of 20 crunches
2 sets of 10 push ups
2 sets of 25 walking lunges, no weights
2 days/week: 45 min of cardio, preferably cycling
Sept 1-Oct 1:
3 days/week: 3 sets of 30 crunches
2 sets of 15 push ups
2 sets of 30 walking lunges, holding 8 lbs weights
2 days/week: 45 min of cardio, cycling and uphill hiking/steady pace
1 day/week: of 45 min weight workout at the gym, full body, light
weight, high repetitions.
Oct 1-Dec 1:
3 days/week: 3 sets of 35 crunches
2 sets of 20 push ups
2 days/week: 1 hour of cardio, spin class, uphill hike/hard pace
2 days/week: 1 hour weight workout, higher weights, less reps to
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to help. Drop me an email at BBlay@Alpine-CMH.com. Enjoy!
You may be inclined to think that with the great skiing to be found in Banff National Park, that the area might lend itself well to some really great Heli-Skiing. You're not alone. Hans Gmoser, the pioneer of Heli-Skiing, thought the same thing and did a trial run at Tent Ridge just south of Banff before founding CMH. Turns out, the greatest heli-skiing on the planet is to be found on the western side of the Canadian Rockies and not in the Banff area. And here's why:
Last year Ken France, Area Manager at CMH Kootenay, wrote this blog article about the science of the snowpack in and around Revelstoke, BC. In the article, Ken describes the influence of the Pacific Ocean on the Caribou, Monashee, Selkirk and Purcell Mountain Ranges. Bascially, Ken walks us through a snow storm coming in off the ocean and losing most of it's moisture in the Coast Range and continuing East where the snow continues to fall, but in a much drier form.
Over in Banff, on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, the snow is just that much drier after losing the moisture. The 'sweet spot' appears to be right in the Interior Ranges in BC, just before the storms move east to Banff and the Alberta Rockies.
Heli-Skiers appreciate the natural spacing of the trees in the Interior Ranges. The moisture on the coast is great for tree growth - but this also means that the forests are very dense and not ideal for Heli-Skiing. But trees also provide an important visual reference for our pilots and guides. When the snow is falling hard, our pilots and guides naturally head for the trees and find some fantastic skiing in those naturally spaced forests.
Besides the fact that Parks Canada does not allow for recreational motorized vehicles in the National Park (this includes ATVs, dirt bikes and snowmobiles in addition to helicopters for skiing, snowboarding, and hiking), the flying conditions in the BC Interior Ranges are much better suited to heli-skiing. As Ken says, "Flying at 6,000' instead of 9,000' (like in the mountainous regions of the US and the Himalaya) dramatically increases performance." It's simply more efficient and economical to fly in BC.
When you combine the deep snow of the Interior Ranges with the lack of commerical operations and inhabitants with the natural features of the terrain of these mountains, it adds up to the world's greatest skiing. I asked Marty von Neudegg, CMH's Director of Marketing what makes the phyiscal geography of the Interior Range so perfect for skiing. Marty says 'The Interior Range offers wide open glaciers with consistant pitch and steep 1200-1400 metre tree decents unimpeded by cliff bands. And everything in between! The sheer variety of geography in this range makes it a skier's nirvana." Topher Donahue in Bugaboo Dreams says 'the terrain of the Cariboos is an amalgamation of all the different kinds of features that make up great skiing: the long, powder-cloaked old growth forests, steep serpentine ridgelines, friendly glades, rock-edged couloirs, undulating glaciers, planar mountain faces and chaotic combinations of all of the above."
Accessiblity (or lack thereof)
If these ranges were accessible by road and by car, they would be filled with ski resorts and lift lines. As it stands, helicopter access is the way to go. It keeps the numbers low so the impact is low. Banff National Park is a unique area of land preserved specifically for the use of all and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gorgeous Canadian Rockies have something for everyone - from skiers to shoppers and everyone in between. The Interior Ranges of BC have something for anyone willing to make their way into them, and great reward for those that do.
So, next time you consider heli-skiing in Banff, think again. Your best bet is to look west. It may be a little less accessible, but the best things in life often are.
Lack of snow getting you down? Subscribe to CMH's YouTube channel and let the great ski movies get you through the summer doldrums!
Photo: Heli-Skiing in the Interior Ranges of BC. While the coastal ranges of BC get more annual precipitation, it often falls as rain or wet, heavy snow. In the Interior Ranges it falls as the light, airy powder of which skiers dream.
I’ve had the chance to accompany my camera to just about every CMH Heliski area, and of every shoot I’ve done, one day stands out in my memory as the single most amazing day of heliskiing that I’ve ever photographed.
It wasn’t the deepest snow or the most vertical, although the skiers did 15,000 metres and the snow was blower - but the combination of the perspectives I saw through the camera and the variety of places we skied made the day truly exceptional.
Cold Smoke - When we left the Bobbie Burns Lodge that morning it was -25 C - the warmest it had been in a week. The face shots were so cold they hurt:
The Heart of Ski Country - With the Purcell Mountains as the backdrop, I stood on top of a knife-edge ridge and photographed a group dropping into their first run of the day:
At Sea - The vast terrain of the Bobbie Burns, an ice fog in the air, and a 400mm lens make this skier look as if they are riding rolling waves in the open ocean rather than ripping down a mountain face:
The Bird’s Eye View - No, this photo was not taken from a helicopter. After dropping off the other skiers, the helicopter pilot left me on top of a nearly vertical face. With a long lens I was able to shoot straight down onto the skiers and the bouncy snow conditions made for a dynamic interaction between the skiers and the snow:
The Moment - We moved into the Selkirks for the afternoon, and a skier from Germany named Kai Laumann made everything look easy; making many perfect opportunities for the camera:
It was the kind of ski photographer’s day that ends with every lens packed with snow, the batteries low, the memory cards full, the legs tired and the mind whirling with a million moments of some of the most spectacular skiing on the planet.
According to the foresters of Parks Canada there are three life zones in the Columbia Mountains: “Rainforest, Snowforest, and No Forest."
These life zones are where CMH Heliskiing happens
. Mountain guides and heliskiers divide the mountains a little differently, but the differences are largely semantics. However you break it down, the wildly different life zones of the Columbia Mountains are fundamentally connected to the kind of terrain you’ll encounter on a heliskiing or helicopter snowboarding vacation.
Mountain guides break it down into Below Treeline, Treeline, and Alpine. Each zone has features that appeal to both beginner and expert powder skiers. Here is a photographic and descriptive tour of what skiers of differing ability levels can expect from each zone:
Alpine: The original inspiration for heliskiing. It’s all about stunning views, big vertical, leaving tracks on gorgeous peaks and oceans of snow, and skiing past glaciers and massive mountain walls of snow and rock. On a summit to valley run at CMH, the alpine is usually a 500- to 1500-metre elevation band.
- Beginner Powder Skiers will enjoy the freedom to turn wherever they want, without the pressure of trees or terrain features.
- Expert Powder Skiers will enjoy the high speed carving on steeper unbroken faces.
Treeline: Quentessential Canadian heliskiing terrain. You get both views into the alpine, and technical tree skiing features like wind rolls and snow mushrooms - and the most massive snowpack in an already snowy region. On a summit to valley run at CMH, treeline is usually a 200- to 400-metre elevation band.
- Powder skiers and snowboarders of all abilities will enjoy the diversity and beauty of the treeline zone. Even within the safety limits of staying near the guide’s tracks, experts can ride over the jumps, drops and steeps formed by the tree islands and moraines, and beginner powder skiers and snowboarders can ride the lines of least resistance.
Below Treeline: This is where the new school of heliskiing goes off. When the CMH guides began exploring the steep tree runs of the Monashees, they stumbled onto one of mankind’s most amazing contrivances: floating effortlessly downward through a steep forest with snow pouring around every millimetre of your body - with a helicopter to take you up for another round. On a summit to valley run at CMH, the Below Treeline zone is usually a 500- to 1500-metre elevation band.
- Beginner Powder Skiers would be wise to choose an area with tree skiing that is suitable for weaker skiers. The Cariboos, Bugaboos, Kootenay, Adamants, and Revelstoke have a plethora of tree skiing terrain that is great for weaker tree skiers.
- Expert powder skiers and snowboarders will need no introduction to know that charging the deep powder through an old growth rainforest with CMH is pretty much as good as life gets. Rippers will be happy at any CMH area, but the Monashees, Gothics, Cariboos, Revelstoke, Bobbie Burns, Galena and Kootenay are legendary for aggressive tree skiing.
Check out the rest of the most frequently asked questions about heliskiing.
By Michael Smith
It’s great to watch people perform at their very best. Actors, musicians and athletes quite often inspire us with what they can achieve and express through their chosen craft. For those memorable moments in time of ultimate performance, there are several years, if not decades, of dedication involved to get to that momentous point in time. Of course there are several factors to help these high performers reach the pinnacle of their career but I will focus a bit more on one specific aspect in this article. One of, if not the most integral factors in this process is The Coach.
There are many different ability levels of coaching expertise, from the first time peewee hockey parent to the NFL Superbowl master coach, but in essence the same tireless dedication is usually employed. In this selfless pursuit, these coaches often work harder and bare more stress than the performers themselves for no other reason than to help that person or those people achieve their goals.
I’ve had the privilege during my athletic career to work with a number of exceptional world-class coaches. I truly appreciate what they helped me achieve. I’ve utilized many of their techniques and traits within my career of wealth management - coaching individuals in pursuit of their goals.
I believe these are some of the reasons that I always seem to have my eyes peeled for people who demonstrate an innate coaching ability. I have definitely been witness to individuals with these traits during my heli-skiing trips with CMH Heli-Skiing. CMH’s world-class guides demonstrate many of the characteristics of exceptional coaches - patient, tough, knowledgeable, trustworthy, fun!
And like most world class coaches that I know, what I see is that the CMH guides try to help each and every skier, no matter what their level, achieve their goals. Whether it is to get down the mountain as efficiently and safely as possible, a mid-day pep talk to hit the run faster than you have before or to point out a good hit to catch some air!
My belief is that anyone who has the opportunity to head into the mountains with CMH should wholly take advantage of the guides/coaches that you get exposed to. I know you will be a better skier for having been coached by some of the best in the business on your heliskiing adventure.
Have you had some great coaches in your life? Share your stories here in the comments.
Keen to ski with some world-class coaches and atheletes? Join Michael Smith and maybe even Jan Hudec this winter on a CMH Heli-Skiing trip. Contact CMH Reservations for more information at 1.800.661.0252 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: CMH Heli-Skiing guide Tyler McMillen by Lyle Grisedale.
By Connie MacDonald, Director of People, CMH
When visiting with guests at the CMH Heli-Skiing lodges, I am often inundated with positive feedback about the quality of our staff and the strength of our culture. This usually launches me into a passionate discussion about our People strategy. I could blog for days about some of the things we do to attract, train and retain CMH's talented, hard-working staff but let’s face it, the caché of heli-skiing sure helps. How many people do you know who commute to work by helicopter and go heli-skiing on their breaks!
But despite the cool factor and our love of skiing, it takes more than good turns to keep our team engaged.
From the very first days at CMH, Hans Gmoser had a gift for attracting the right people to this team. He was able to instill this incredible sense of hard-work, value, quality, friendship and safety that still runs through our veins. It sounds easy -- like something you may read about in an employee manual, but what made Hans the real-deal, is that he walked his talk. He set a pace and a standard of excellence that was rigorous yet very appealing for those who aligned with his values and passion for guiding. Hans was a guru who created this experience called CMH and a following of people who wanted to be a part of it.
Hans’s people philosophy was simple: “Treat all co-workers as equals and as real people. I never felt that people were working for me but rather for themselves and with me.”
Today our focus on getting the right people on the bus…or heli…is still a priority. We are constantly looking for people who align with our values and culture. The pace is rigorous and we still work together -- CMH is more lifestyle than job.
Hire the right people
With 425 staff at peak operating season we put a lot of emphasis on hiring the right people from the very beginning. We don’t use a central hiring process. Lodge managers hire their teams and Rob Rohn and Erich Unterberger hire the guides.
We look for passionate mountain people who have the aptitude to engage in our style of guest service. This takes good energy, common sense, attention to detail, sincerity and hard work! We try to be very honest in our interviews about what it’s like to live in a remote lodge. Working and playing with the same people for 14 days isn’t always easy – we want team players. We also rely on word-of-mouth recruiting. 80% of our new staff (we hire between 50 – 75 every year) are referred by current employees.
Train and train again
New staff go through a series of trainings before they start work. All new Chefs, for example, start by attending Orientation day. This is when we present an overview of the company and our operations. The highlight is always heli-ski legend Kiwi Gallagher who tells a great story about his time at CMH.
Next, our Chefs move on to a F & B training session. This includes a day in the kitchen with our F & B manager and 4 additional days of culinary knowledge sharing with the entire Chef team.
Our new Chefs then move on to their lodges to help set up for opening day. This takes another 4 days with their lodge team. Set-up focuses on lodge specific training/familiarization including operations, emergency situations, guest service, and team expectations.
To round out the introduction to CMH, each new chef then receives a week of hands-on mentoring during the heli-skiing season, by a more experienced Chef.
Returning Chefs also attend Chefs training and set-up at the start of every winter. The same format goes for most returning staff – 4 days of group training and 4 days of training at their lodge.
My favourite retention story is always about our “Boomerangs”. A Boomerang is an employee who has worked for CMH; left to pursue new adventure; after time away they land back at a lodge or in the office to help out. Some work for one week per year, and others like Sherri at the Adamants or Russ in IT, stick around for awhile. We rely on our Boomerangs to round out our team, and relish the fact that we have a network of people who are happy to return to help out in a pinch and get their CMH fix.
And when people ask me about our culture I usually start by sharing a copy Bugaboo Dreams, which acts as our not-so-traditional staff handbook. Written by Topher Donahue in 2008, this book is a compilation of stories and experiences from the many people who helped to build CMH. For anyone who has any connection to CMH, it’s well worth the read.
If you missed out on getting a copy in 2009, send me a note and I’d be happy to send you a copy. You can reach me at email@example.com
It’s nearly impossible to compare skiing in a resort to heli-skiing with CMH. Ski Guide Kitt Redhead perhaps said it best: “It’s like swimming in a lake your whole life and then seeing the ocean.”
The other day on Skiing Interactive I came across a brilliantly done interactive terrain comparison between CMH Heli-Skiing and 20 other North American ski resorts. The point is to compare terrain and snowfall among the 20 resorts, but it is the comparison to CMH (shown in the screenshot here) that is mindblowing:
The article notes that the resort number reflects skiable acreage, and the CMH number reflects total acreage. In some CMH areas, like the Adamants, there are hanging glaciers, kilometre-tall cliffs, and other unskiable features; but in other CMH areas, like Kootenay, nearly every acre of the tenure is delightfully skiable.
The difference between the resorts and CMH is so great that it required an interactive Flash element to graphically illustrate the two. On the Skiing Interactive site, when you click on the CMH Heli-Skiing comparison, the 20 resorts are clumped together in a tiny dot representing their combined 52,281 acres, while the 3,895,616 acres of CMH Heli-Skiing terrain is represented by most of the rest of your browser window.
I did the math – that’s 75 times more acreage at CMH than the other resorts combined - and the list includes the renowned ski giants of Whistler and Vail.
The article conclusion is the best part: “…the latent point is that you should put a heli trip on your bucket list. Now shut off your computer and go skiing.”
CMH Kootenay terrain and awed shadow photo by Topher Donahue.
Watching the events unfolding in Egypt recently made my own obsessions and little victories feel insignificant – but it also made me look into the nooks and crannies around me where the people’s voice is heard. The will of the human spirit is staggering. Even something as obscure and hedonistic as heliskiing was due to the adventurous spirit of North American skiers, not because some investor decided to create a heliski business.
While writing Bugaboo Dreams, the book that tells the story of Canadian Mountain Holidays and the invention of heliskiing, I was struck by a common thread throughout the now 46-year history of the sport: the skiers were the inspiration.
The first big change was in the early 60s, at MIT, when the first American Olympic ski racer, Brooks Dodge, approached CMH founder Hans Gmoser after a slideshow promoting Hans' ski touring business. Brooks was enamoured with the idea of using a helicopter for a ski lift in some remote, snowy mountains like those of Western Canada. Hans wasn’t crazy about the idea. Being a mountain guide, the complications of taking people skiing by helicopter must have been daunting.
But Brooks made Hans an offer he couldn’t refuse. Brooks would bring enough skiers to pay for the helicopter to leave the ground - and if it didn’t work out Hans could keep the money. Needless to say, it worked.
The second big change was when CMH opened the Cariboo Lodge in the early seventies. From the short sighted perspective of modern business, it would have been more profitable to expand the Bugaboo Lodge and pack more customers into the already established area – but the people wouldn’t have been as happy.
People wanted to go heliskiing because it landed them squarely in a vast expanse of wilderness with easy access to a nearly limitless supply of untouched powder snow. Hans knew that bringing more people into the Bugaboos would have reduced the quality of the experience for the people who mattered most – his guests. So instead of expanding the Bugaboos he built a lodge 300-kilometres to the north in the Cariboos.
The third big change was in the mid-eighties when a French ski guide named Ary Dedet suggested that skiing in small, private groups would be worth the additional expense. Again, if the decision had been made from a purely profit-based perspective, Ary would have been denied. Why not open another full-sized lodge to bring in more people?
Instead, the decision to try Private Group Heliskiing was based on the dreamy concept of skiing, dining and living for a week with just you and a few close friends - and a helicopter at your service – in some of the most epic ski mountains and snowpack on the planet. CMH opened Valemount and then McBride to cater to this more intimate heliskiing experience and the result remains one of the most popular CMH trips.
More recently, CMH introduced Small Group Heliskiing for the most addicted powder fiends, Powder Intro because intermediate skiers wanted to learn to ski the legendary powder of the Columbia Mountains, Nomads because skiers asked about skiing in more than one CMH area during the same trip, and Family Trips because veteran heliskiers wanted to share the magical experience with their families.
However - just like in a country where the people want change - there are the twin limitations of safety and sustainability. What the future of heliskiing holds is largely based on these two limitations balanced against the desires of the skiers and snowboarders who have shaped Canadian Mountain Holidays for nearly half a century.
Considering these all-powerful limitations of safety and sustainability, what do you want heliskiing to be like in another decade?
CMH archive photo of the birth of heliskiing, Bugaboos, April 1965. And a snowboarder ripping steep terrain in the Bobbie Burns, March 2008.
We realize it is Valentines Day, and you would generally expect some shmoozy love story to be posted on your favorite blog. But this is the Heli-Ski Blog... No shmooze here... Just skiing!
But wait... What if there was a love story that involved skiing? And not just skiing, but the story of one man, and the love of his life.
Now, depending on who you are, you are probably expecting A: A story about skis and skiing, or B: a story about a girl. This story involves both...
One of our guests, Ted, came skiing with us some years ago and set out on a pair of Atomic Heli-Stars. Ted fell in love with these skis over the week and he requested that those skis become "his skis". So for the last 15 years, we have kept Ted's skis in Banff and sent them ahead to to the lodge whenever he is headed out to one of our heliski lodges. Well, ski technology has changed immensely over the last 15 years but no one has been able to convince Ted to leave the skis that he holds so dear. Until this past January when Ted was Heli-Skiing at the Cariboos.
Lyle Grisedale, Cariboo Shop Manager, convinced Ted to try out a pair of K2 Darksides. Apparently, after Ted's first turn it was "love at first ski". Who knows, maybe Ted will keep faithful to the Darksides for another 15 years, or maybe he has been convinced that ski technology is in fact improving and will try something new next year!
Chances are that you have fallen in love with a pair of skis after an amazing heli-ski trip, but Ted's story doesn't finish there. Ted has fallen in love at CMH before. In fact he met his wife, Lisa, while skiing at the Gothics some years ago and CMH Heli-Skiing has become a tradition for them and their family.
Ted & Lisa's love for CMH doesn't stop at heli-skiing. They have also brought many of their friends on CMH Summer Adventures over the years and have helped to develop the CME Credits program with CMH's Medical Symposia.
We've seen a great many other heli-ski romances develop over the years. I can think of a handful of couples who either met or got married while on a CMH Heli-Skiing trip. If you have a CMH Love Story, we hope you'll share it with us here!
And if you don't, what are you waiting for? Contact CMH Reservations to book your heli-skiing space today. We're willing to bet you'll fall in love - with the snow, the experience, the flying or ...