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CMH Heli-Skiing Photo of the Week: April 15, 2013

  
  
  
Girl Powder, Gothics, Apr 2013

Photo: Jennifer Statham

Skiers: The skiers and boarders on CMH's Powder 101: Girl's School

Date: April 12, 2013

Area: CMH Gothics

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.

Photo memories of heliskiing in Canada during La Nina

  
  
  

The snow is piling up in the legendary ski paradise of the Columbia Mountains - another La Niña winter in the making.

Last winter I was fortunate enough to sample three different CMH areas during photography projects.  It was also the best winter anyone could remember since the 70s; a La Niña winter - the same climate phenomenon meteorologists are predicting for this coming winter.

I know it is almost cruel and unusual punishment to post these photos right now, when most of us haven’t yet even buckled a ski boot, but I couldn’t resist.  Not only do these photos illustrate a La Niña winter of heliskiing in Canada, they also reveal the quality of the snow that brings skiers from all over the planet to taste the world’s greatest skiing.

February 28, 2011,  CMH Cariboos:
Cariboos lanina heliskiing powder

A short break between storms in the Cariboos had left a carve-able surface on solar aspects, but then another 30cm of low-density snow fell on the crust.  Combined with -20C temperatures, the result was fast skiing and a swirling powder cloud that would twist and dance hypnotically after the skier had passed.  I tried a few shots from below, but this one, looking down at the skier, best revealed the snow dance.

March 7, 2011,  CMH Gothics:
Gothics lanina helicopter snowboarding

Then it snowed for another week.  Our first day in the Gothics dawned crystal clear.  Even the most veteran guides and skiers were giddy at the breakfast table.  Good stability, deep snow, and the massive Gothics terrain in the southern Monashees awaited.  The day was like a dream.  Not only did we ski CMH’s longest run, Thierry’s Journey, we skied it three times.  After weeks of low visibility flying, the pilot was having a blast too.  He dropped us off on tiny summits, plucked us from the deepest valleys, and was grinning as widely as anyone on the mountain.  Here, the Gothics chef gets a few hours of dreamtime before going back to the lodge to prepare a gourmet dinner to give the rest of us the perfect ending to a perfect day. 

April 12, 2011, CMH Adamants:
Adamants LaNina heliskiing

An assignment from Skiing Magazine, to tell the story of the the unprecedented CMH Heli-Assisted Ski Touring program, gave me another week in ski-topia.  While we all anticipated spring conditions and corn snow, it was not to be.  Instead, La Niña delivered deep powder conditions until well after the last week of the CMH season.  I didn’t hear anyone in the group whining about skiiing in the Adamants during the winter that wouldn’t end. 

At CMH Revelstoke, there is already a skiable base in the backcountry, and check out today’s 5-day Revelstoke weather forecast!  S-N-O-W!

National Geographic’s skiing Top 10 forgot about the skiing

  
  
  

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. 

monashees heliski lodge

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?

 


Ski Divas Take Note: Chicks in the Chopper Filling Up

  
  
  

The only thing better than heliskiing with CMH would have to be heliskiing with CMH with an all-women ski group.  From March 29 to April 3, 2012 CMH is going to do just that; a group of women will take over the CMH Gothics Lodge for Chicks in the Chopper, a week of deep powder skiing and unbridled fun. 

The event was inspired by Victoria Reynolds who felt that women have so much fun heliskiing together that they deserve their own helicopter, guide, and slice of ski paradise.  I tracked down Victoria to learn a little more about what it takes to join Chicks in the Chopper – besides the obvious.

skiing women powder

TD: What kind of fitness is needed to join you for Chicks in the Chopper? For example, would you need to be able to ski all the way down a long black diamond run without stopping?

VR: A first time heli trip can be a bit intimidating for women, and men for that matter, but women tend to underestimate their ability where men tend to be over confident.  No, you don’t need to be able to ski black diamond terrain without stopping. The guides re-group on every run so there is plenty of time to catch your breath.

TD: What kind of ski ability is needed?  Do you need to be able to keep up with the fast skiers at a resort to keep up with Chicks in the Chopper?

VR: If you are an intermediate skier and can handle the back bowls of Vail, or similar moderate ski resort terrain, you are good to go. In March, CMH held a Women's Ski Day at Vail with one of the CMH ski guides, which was great fun. The skiers were varying abilities, some were past racers and other just recreational skiers, but they all were down at the bottom of the run together.  Also, surprisingly, gravity and powder snow is a great equalizer, and even weaker skiers usually keep up better while heliskiing than at the resort where hardpacked terrain is conducive to strong skiers going extremely fast.

TD: What kind of connectivity is available at the lodges to stay in touch with family and work during the week?

VR: The Gothic's Lodge has wireless internet and also land line telephones to stay in touch. Because the lodge is so fantastically remote, cell phones will not pick up a signal – now that’s a vacation!

TD: What if someone doesn't want to ski all day every day?  What else is there to do besides ski?

VR: No worries if you need some down time on the trip. You have opportunities to return to the lodge before lunch and the staff will have a great lunch prepared and you may have a nice glass of wine too. Though if you indulge you can't go back out and ski! You can curl up after lunch with a good book fireside or maybe indulge in a massage and a hot tub and spa session would relax the sore muscles.  Cross-country skis and exercise room are always available as well.

TD: What about really good skiers?  Will they be challenged?

VR: Confident and strong skiers can ski different lines with the guidance of the ski guide. We will have two groups so the guides can adjust the groups accordingly, and even within the same group the terrain is so diverse that there is ample opportunity to ski both mellow and challenging lines.

There are only a few spaces left on this one-of-a-kind women's heli-ski ski trip, so if you’re considering it, and have questions, check out our women specific FAQs or even better give us a call at (800) 661-0252.

Update (October 14, 2011): Chicks in the Chopper is currently sold out but we have just announced a Powder 101- The Intro for women only called "Girl's School".  Call 1.800.661.0252 for details on this trip and other women's heli-ski trips with CMH.

Skiing is just half the fun...don't forget about the helicopter ride!

  
  
  

If you have been to the new Warren Miller movie Wintervention or have gone to one of the CMH promo events going on across the globe, you have seen some fantastic film footage of CMH. 

I brought a 1TB hard drive to Warren Miller last week and came home with about 600GB of all the footage that was shot in the Gothics...I was blown away by all the footage that I had not seen yet.  

The footage that was shot with the cineflex is so fantastic.  I put together a quick video of just flying around in the helicopter.  The skiing at CMH is incredible but so is flying around in the helicopter! The team at Alpine Helicopters are the best in the business.

I hope you enjoy.

Warren Miller "Wintervention": CMH Heli-Skiing Segment Locked and Loaded

  
  
  

Winter must be right around the corner.  How do I know?  Because the 61st Warren Miller movie, Wintervention, is ready to go.  It has been a lot of fun over the summer working on the CMH Heli-Skiing segment. Seeing the genesis of the segment from rough edit with no sound, music track, color correction, etc to what it is today has been great.  

Check out tour dates and purchase tickets at Warren Miller Films.  In the mean time you can check out the trailer for the new movie.  

Come out this fall and catch the new CMH Ski Movie The Reality of Dreams. For a listing of dates and venues visit our Roadshow page or our CMH Facebook page. And don't miss Warren Miller's Wintervention. The 61st WME film features a segment with CMH Guides Craig McGee and Lindsay Anderson. Tour dates here.

What Does Climbing Have to do With Heliskiing Anyway?

  
  
  

D BCAD09 0680Behind the coffee machine in the CMH Gothics Lodge hang drawings of early climbers in the Alps navigating glacial crevasses and arresting falls.  Photos of climbers from 5 different decades adorn the CMH Bugaboo Lodge.  Most CMH lodges are equipped with some kind of climbing wall.  Ski guides are often overheard talking about climbing adventures.  But the two sports are so different.  So what’s up with all the climbing culture in heliskiing? 

If you look at the hard skills side of guiding, the rope techniques that are learned while climbing give skiers a powerful tool for exploring technical terrain.  And of course, if someone falls in a crevasse or gets stranded on a cliff, climbing skills become an important part of the rescue.

However, these days, the two sports have diversified so radically that many ski guides can work competently and safely without studying the climbing part of the guide certification process.  Basic rope skills are taught during ski guide courses and heliskiing is so specialized in its system, and intimate knowledge of the local mountains so important, that any guide must work for several seasons in an area before taking on the responsibilities of a lead heliski guide.  So is the climbing, hiking and mountaineering really all that important?

To become a full mountain guide, the top certification in the UIAGM, a guide must show competence as both a skier and mountaineer.  From the view through your goggles or out the window of a helicopter or gondola, this might seem unnecessary; but in the bigger mountaineering picture, skis, climbing boots, ropes, and carabiners are all just tools for exploring different parts of the same thing - the mountains. 

Exploring the mountains as a climber, hiker or mountaineer teaches guides about subtleties of the mountains that you don’t see while exploring on skis.  Mountaineers gain intimate knowledge of things the vast majority of skiers will never experience such as:

  • The way ice and snow bonds to rock in different conditions.
  • The invisible transitions from snow to ice that happen on big peaks.
  • Travelling on snow types that are rarely encountered on skis - like rime, penitentes, and glacial ice.
  • Vertical and overhanging snow formations a skier will rarely touch.
  • Rock quality and the terrain features that hide under the winter snows.
Perhaps the best answer lies in the perspective a guide gets while climbing up or skiing down mountains.  To put a really complicated thing very simply: skiing teaches guides how to look down the mountain and climbing teaches them how to look up.  For the past 45 years CMH has watched the sport change, but one thing has remained the same: the mountains are the best teachers - and the guides, climbers and skiers who explore the mountains in all seasons are the best students.

It's not only our guides who benefit from all season mountain adventures.  If you want to add to your perspective of the mountains, check out the CMH Summer Adventures.  It's more than you think...

Photo of skiing below the biggest peak in the Selkirks, Sir Sanford, in the CMH Adamants by Topher Donahue.

CMH-Warren Miller Film Update

  
  
  

I went to Warren Miller Entertainment world wide HQ located in the center of all grooviness...or as it is more commonly known...Boulder, Colorado...to check out the footage that was shoot in at CMH Gothics.  Josh Haskins, ace producer, and I sat down in the editing bay and took a look.

Wow.  The footage is just beautiful. Everything that was shot on the ground is on film and has such a great look and feel. Chris Patterson, the DP and principle camera, is such a pro at capturing the action.  

And then there is the Cineflex footage that was shot from the nose of the 407.  The Cineflex camera brings a depth and perspective to the terrain that is incredible. I guess that is what a $600,000 camera will do for you in the hands of the right operator (Mark Hyrma).

The Warren Miller team is starting to edit the segment together for the fall film tour. I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product.  In the mean time here is a 30 second teaser that they put together. 

 

Come out this fall and catch the new CMH Ski Movie The Reality of Dreams.  For a listing of dates and venues visit our Roadshow page or our CMH Facebook page.  And don't miss Warren Miller's Wintervention.  The 61st WME film features a segment with CMH Guides Craig McGee and Lindsay Anderson.  Tour dates here.

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