One of the amazing things about the CMH Heliskiing experience is that you can show up at the airport with your ski or snowboard boots, and CMH takes care of all the other snow riding details.
Temperature changes making your skis too slow? Get an overnight wax job. Want to move your snowboard binding position for riding in the deepest snow? Just drop them off at the shop. It will all be better in the morning.
To get a perspective on how the CMH shop techs contribute to the CMH heliskiing experience I talked with Kim Shaw, a 24-year-old ripper from Rossland, British Columbia, and shop tech in the CMH Cariboos:
TD: How does being a shop tech influence the skier's heliskiing experience?
KS: I meet them the minute they walk in the door, figure out their needs for skis and snowboards or just find the right jacket or layering piece. If any of their gear is not working for them, I try my best to problem solve and make the best out of what we have available. Having product knowledge first hand on what equipment you should be using for the type of conditions at the time helps a great deal.
TD: How are the different ski shapes changing your job?
KS: With the variety of skis we carry this year, from the Rossi S7's , K2 Darkside and Pontoons people sure are trying everything! It is good for us to get positive and negative feedback on what ski really works, and what doesn't. We can take this information and try to provide the best ski for the conditions.
TD: What do you do for skiers to maximize their heliskiing experience?
KS: Anything that I can! Knowing what ski works well with the conditions at the moment will help the skier with making the decision of what to ski on. With different options a skier can go from a K2 Coomback with rocker in the tip, to a Rossi S7 with rocker in tip and tail. This year the new selection of skis gives people more options. If a ski is not working out, they can try another.
TD: Sounds like the ultimate powder demo program. What do you do for snowboarders to maximize their heli snowboarding experience?
KS: What goes for skiers, goes for snowboarders! Knowing the depth of snow, conditions, and what to ride on helps them make choices. Working closely with the rider to find the perfect stance to help them feel comfortable riding in any situation is huge. We are currently looking at some different options for snowboarders and it looks like next year we will have something new and exciting out in the field!
TD: What is the standard level of training for a CMH shop tech?
KS: Most people have experience in the ski industry prior to CMH. Some have a working or racing background, and we all love the mountains! We have meetings at the beginning of the season and talk about what new products we are bringing into the CMH world.
TD: Anything else you'd like to add?
KS: CMH is an amazing place to play and work!
Curious about what else is included in a CMH heliski trip?
Photo of Kim Shaw and the fruits of her labours in the CMH Cariboos by Topher Donahue.
Just driving between the CMH Heli-Skiing areas, the snowpack is a sight to behold. In many places, it would be impossible to slide off the road thanks to the size of the snowplow burms. One of the CMH guides joked, “You could just turn on the cruise control, take a nap, and let the car pinball back and forth between the snowbanks.”
A heliski tour in snow conditions like those occuring right now at with CMH Heli-Skiing leaves everyone, even the most seasoned guides, with a sense of euphoria. After leaving the Cariboos last week, I trained my camera on CMH Gothics and came home every night laughing at the exceptional ski moments captured on my memory cards.
Day One – Lisa, the Gothics ski tech, loves nothing more than blasting over snow mushrooms on her snowboard, and with feather-soft landings there was no reason to hold back:
Day Two – It’s hard to imagine a more magical place to heli-ski than the headwaters of Horne and Ruddock Creeks in the heart of the Monashee Range. 1200 to 2200 meter runs drop from pointy summits to the valley bottom through pillow gardens, chutes and open glades. Tripping the shutter on this photo was a highlight of my photography career:
Day Three – Some photos need no explanation. Simply exceptional ski conditions:
Day Four – It was dumping so hard that Doug, the 206 pilot, spent most of lunchtime sweeping snow off the helicopter:
Day Five – Even the heli-ski guides are stunned by this winter’s snow, so when we stepped out of the helicopter on Morning Star and sank up to our waists in nearly a metre of new snow after 10 weeks of consistent snowfall, Claude Duchesne, the Gothics Area Manager, laughed out loud and shook his head incredulously. Needless to say, the face shots were meaty:
Day Six – This is one of those winters were skiing takes on a fantasy-like quality with the snow textures and sculptures, skier position and the heavily snow-laden forest all dancing together:
Day Seven – There is no word for it in English, but the Germans call it “Huettenzauber”, meaning that particularly cozy magic of mountain huts, and a peek through the windows of the Gothics Lodge nestled in the snow perfectly demonstrates Huettenzauber:
Spring skiing at CMH this year will be incomparable, with the crevasses filled in, boulder fields covered, and plenty of snow to ski the longest runs. The guides are already talking about the convective snow storms of spring and skiing lines that only come into shape once every couple of decades. Check out CMH space availability to see about getting your slice this remarkable season.
Early season can be a knuckle-biting time for heli-ski guides. With zero artificial snowmaking, and countless skiable acres, heliskiers need enough natural snowpack to cover jagged rocks, tangled fallen timber, and thick underbrush. This season, snowfall started slowly, but by all accounts the powder machine has installed itself over the Columbia Mountains and the white room is open for business.
CMH Galena: December 4, 2010. Photo by Mike Welch.
For a little firsthand glimpse of what it’s like out there, I tracked down Kevin Christakos, the manager of CMH McBride, John Mellis, manager of CMH Cariboos, and Jason Semenek from the CMH Banff Office who updates the multimedia for CMH online and is testing a couple of CMH webcams so we can see conditions for ourselves.
TD: Does it feel like heliskiing time out there in the high country?
KC: Ya, it always feels like time to go skiing when December hits. Today was a dark and snowy day in Golden, and it felt like the kind of day you want to be skiing in the trees.
TD: Do you still get excited about skiing this time of year?
KC: Ya, I wonder if that will ever change. By the end of November I'm usually on skis. Now I often start with nordic skiing. Our ski hill opened last Friday. I pulled my oldest boy out of school to go skiing with me. He was worried he'd get in trouble but I convinced him it would be okay - I guess if I'm convincing my kids to play hooky to go skiing with me that would classify me as keen.
TD: What was the snow like during guide training?
KC: When we started I was pretty much busting through to ground when I walked, but it snowed almost every day and by the end you could really feel the snow starting to settle as it had snowed about 50cms in total. Winter often comes on fast and it is amazing this time of the year how fast the skiing gets good once the snow tap gets turned on.
TD: Where and when is your first week of guiding this year?
KC: We'll be setting up in McBride right after New Year, and the first guests are all snowboarders so I’ll guide on a snowboard. I look forward to spending the week on the dark side…
TD: Since CMH doesn't make snow like a ski resort, how much snowfall does it
take to open a heliski area?
KC: How much snow you need on the ground depends a little on how dense and settled the snow is, but a good target would be 1-1.5 metres at treeline.
TD: How much snow is there at treeline now?
KC: What a coincidence. There are about 1-1.5 metres.
Writing from the CMH Cariboo Lodge on Friday, John Mellis gave me this update:
“It's been snowing for the last 30 hours. 25cm new at the lodge, 60 cm for total H.S. here. I haven't been up high yet. But I know winter really kicks in around tree line. It was an exceptionally wet, cold summer up here. The glaciers more than likely did quite well.”
Johnny is excited about the aftermath of a cool summer for good reason: The Cariboos contain some of the biggest glaciers in the Columbia Mountains. A cold, wet summer means crevasses will fill in more quickly so the glacier skiing there, and in the high alpine of the other CMH areas, could be setting up for the best season in many years.
Jason Semenek is currently testing the new CMH webcams, which are still being optimized for updates from the remote locations, and they can be viewed with the CMH Snow Report. Jason also updates the CMH slideshows and multimedia, which right now feature some choker powder photos from CMH Galena that are worth the visit - unless of course you'd rather not see how good the skiing is right now...
Heliskiing is intimidating. Most skiers and snowboarders can do it, but until you’ve experienced it it’s intimidating for just about everyone. Everyone has questions about it. Some have questions about their own ability, some have questions about the logistics of the program, and then of course there are questions about the skiing itself. For the top 5 questions asked by heliskiers, I tracked down Natasha Wiebe, with CMH Reservations, who spends most of her time patiently and expertly answering these very questions.
1. How many runs per day and how long are they?
This depends largely on two things: snow conditions, and your skiing or riding endurance. Most days are spent skiing and snowboarding a dozen or more powder runs between 300- and 1200-metres long. With the helicopter and multiple guides to lead different skill levels, there are chances to rest or return to the Lodge so some guests ski significantly more than others.
But don’t be surprised if, even as a first-timer, you ski a lot more than you might expect. If you’re a strong intermediate skier, and you don’t mind a few fluffy tumbles while learning the bouncy rhythm of riding in powder, you end up skiing long runs with surprising ease. If you’re an expert, you’ll be in good company with our faster skiers and riders on our longer, steeper runs.
2. What will the snow be like?
Snow is always changing, but an average heliski day will be in snow deeper than your boot tops and often deeper than your waist. There are no grooming machines at CMH, and with up to 20 metres (or 65 feet) of annual snowfall, the base you are skiing on can be up to 5 metres deep.
It's not always perfect powder - wind, sun, temperature and time can conspire against us and create diabolical crusts, bulletproof hard pack, soupy slush (which can be really fun to ski too) and everything in between – but Interior British Columbia has the best odds for betting on deep powder skiing of anywhere in the world.
3. What happens on a down day?
Thanks to the great snow and ski terrain of the Columbia Mountains, and exceptional pilots with Alpine Helicopters, we average only half-a-day without skiing each week, so a lot of guests just rest, visit the spa, get a massage, dine, and appreciate a chance to recover and ski stronger the next day.
However, after 45 years of heli-skiing, we’ve passed a lot of days when it's dumping so hard the helicopter can’t fly, so we have cross-country skis and boots in every size, pool tables, exercise areas, weight rooms and climbing walls. On occasion, down days have been known to include broom hockey, snowball fights, and building kickers in the woods near the Lodge.
4. I am coming alone on this trip. Do you think this is ok?
Absolutely. Mountain sport is conducive to camaraderie. You won’t be alone for long. Most heliskiers leave after a week with CMH with more friends than they arrived with. Every week, we’ll have a mix of guests travelling alone, in groups and in couples. Quite often we have guests come alone for one week and meet a friend or their family for the next week.
5. What is there to do in our spare time at the Lodge?
Other than during down days when the helicopter can’t fly because of weather conditions, most guests find little spare time after the long days of memorable skiing, gourmet dining, and relaxation. Wireless Internet will let you connect - and the spa, dining room, bar, and the rest of the CMH heliski experience will let you disconnect.
Are you curious about the other quesitons our guests ask us about heliskiing? Check out the FAQ section of our website.
Photo of answering these questions the fun way at CMH Adamants by Topher Donahue.
No, not that kind. I’m talking about the kind you use at the bottom of a heliski run when the helicopter is coming in to pick you up.
The pickup can feel like a stressful part of the day, especially for first time heliskiers, but it doesn’t need to be. After a couple of laps, getting ready for the helicopter is easier and less stressful than getting ready for a gondola. Here are 7 tips that will make your heliski pickups a casual, fun, safe experience.
1. Do what your guide directs you to do. This is the most important thing. Slow down and pay attention to your guide. Sometimes the helicopter is waiting and sometimes it’s not. Many different scenarios can unfold at the pickup, but they are all really easy for you as long as you are attentive you your guide.
2. As you approach the pickup, change your skiing or riding style from sport mode to careful transportation mode. The pickup is not the place to express your independence. Many pickups in CMH terrain are just above the deep hole formed by a river drainage or cliff. If you make even one extra turn past the pickup, you can find yourself wallowing in chest deep snow for long, exhausting minutes just to gain a few feet to reach the pickup - or worse.
3. Take care of your skis and poles or snowboard first. Sometimes it is important to get ready quickly, and sometimes there is lots of extra time. In either case, do first things first: take off your skis, bundle them with your poles like the guide instructs, and put them into the stack with the other skis. Snowboarders should fold down highback bindings and place them where the guide directs in a position where they can’t slide away. Once your skis and poles or board are ready, you can clean your goggles, loosen your boots, take pictures and relax knowing you’ll be ready whenever the ski lift shows up.
4. Stay with your group. If the guide stops short of the pickup, you must do the same. Sometimes when the helicopter is refueling, or making long flights into a new valley, the different ski groups end up waiting together at a landing. Suddenly there are several guides in florescent jackets and it’s easy to get confused about which group is yours and accidentally race to joint the wrong group. Slow down. It’s easy.
5. If the guide skis right onto the landing pad, do the same. Ski slowly and carefully near the other skiers, but don’t take off your skis too far from the pickup as you’ll end up sinking in the deep snow. Where the helicopter lands, the snow is often packed hard enough to make for relatively easy walking.
6. If you need help, ask for it. Bundling your skis and poles together is easy, but can be an awkward project while wearing gloves and breathing hard. There will likely be some really experienced heliskiers in your group as well as the guide. Ask for help once or twice and it will all become really simple.
7. Watch the helicopter. When the helicopter comes in to land, crouch where the guide directs, and watch the helicopter approach. You are already wearing goggles or glasses, so the blowing snow will not bother your eyes. Put your hand over your mouth and nose. It is intimidating the first few times, and wind from the rotors is strong, but it is a spectacular event and you’ll get used to it.
The helicopter is the most exciting ski lift in the world - and it will wait for you. Take it easy, do what your guide says, and enjoy your time around the powerful machines. You’ll enjoy the visuals of the whirling snow, get front row views of the accurate flying of Alpine pilots, and quickly get in tune with the logistics of the entire CMH heliski operation.
There’s something about après ski at CMH - even considering the over-the-shoulder powder, fantasy-land ski terrain, and fine dining – that makes it a highlight of anyone’s CMH heliski trip.
Perhaps it is the quick and effortless transitions of the CMH experience. One minute the helicopter’s downwash is blowing cold snowflakes against your cheeks, already tingling from the last hundred face shots, and the next minute you’re greeted with platters of steaming ribs or nachos, pitchers of nutritional smoothies, and a goggle-tanned bartender who likely shared a few turns with you just hours before.
Perhaps it is the remote location of many of the CMH Lodges. Consider the Google Earth view of the remote CMH Lodges. Zoom in close. Your lodge, surrounded by pure wilderness. Zoom out a little. Mountain valleys on either side contain no buildings, ski lifts, or highways, and even the logging roads are drifted closed. Zoom out a little more. There are mountains stretching for a hundred kilometres or more in every direction. With CMH it’s like having your après ski on your own private island – a long way off shore.
Perhaps it is the intimate experience of a CMH ski trip. You and your fellow skiers are the only humans around. It’s quite possible to ski with nearly everyone in the lodge, including staff, over the course of a single week. During the CMH après ski, you are surrounded by people who just took off their ski boots too; people who helped you climb out of the snow after your last wipeout; people who loaned you a ski pole so you could get across the flats on your snowboard; people who just watched you link your best powder turns ever; people from all over the world who are having as much fun as you are.
Perhaps it is the nature of heliskiers. Heliskiers tend to put experiences above possessions on their list of life values. This means après ski conversations tend to be with people who share common passions in life. There’s something refreshing about seeing people who met the day before, sitting around the fire, buying each other drinks, laughing, telling stories, and sharing one of the best days of their lives.
Whatever it is that makes it so great, the only problem with après ski at CMH is that it doesn’t last long enough. One by one people stand up and leave the room on shaky legs from a long day of powder skiing and make their way to a massage, the hot tub, the sauna, a nap, or just a hot shower. Even those who don’t drink leave the room rosy-cheeked, with tired legs, and with just as big a grin as those who had that extra Kokanee.
And the next day everyone gets to do it all over again.
Photo: Aprés ski in the Cariboos by Topher Donahue.
Any veteran heliskiers out there who can share a favorite CMH aprés ski story?
Skiing Magazine published an article recently, called “Trouble in Paradise”, in which the author gets a free trip with a small, new heliski company, and in return spreads a few myths about the big, established heliski companies - especially CMH Heli-Skiing. Among other things, the article provides a perfect template for clearing up a few misconceptions about heliskiing with CMH. Here are a few quotes from the brown-nosing article, and a glimpse of what really happens while heliskiing and snowboarding at CMH.
“Unlike traditional heli trips, where tame terrain is the rule, ours had a guide who charged steep tree shots at a speed well beyond the normal commercial limit.”
We’re unaware of any commercial speed limit, and every CMH ski guide I've ever skied with descends each given line at the speed that is best for the conditions and terrain at hand. It is often safest for a guide to ski the line quickly and wait for his or her group at a place where they are visible and out of any potential avalanche zone.
The only rule we have for terrain is to avoid slopes that could avalanche on us. Ski with CMH during poor snow stability, and we’ll ski a lot of really fun, safe and “tame” terrain. Show up when the stability is good and we’ll safely blow your mind. Do you think “Hanging Gardens” in CMH Galena got the name for being tame?
“Heli-skiing was synonymous with sushi buffets, tight turns, and massive tenures in the BC Interior.”
The author got part of this one right – CMH has massive tenures in the BC Interior, and the occasional sushi buffet, but the diameter of your turn is your choice. Some groups like to lay down a symmetrical pattern of tight turns, while others prefer big GS arcs, and still others prefer to let each individual skier do their own thing within the limitations of the mountain conditions on a given day.
I’m not sure what the author finds so unappealing about massive tenures in the BC Interior – the snowiest weather station in Canada is on Mt. Fidelity near Revelstoke, where 12 metres, or 40 feet, of snow fall annually. With 11 big CMH heliski playgrounds in this region, our skiers seem pretty happy with massive tenures in the BC Interior. We’d even venture so far as to guess this is part of the reason 70% of our guests have skied with us before – and ski with us again and again and again.
“The new operators recognized these customers’ needs and began offering smaller groups and more aggressive line selection.”
The smallest group we ever ski with at CMH is one guide and one guest. It doesn’t really get any smaller than that, unless we let a single skier go it alone – which we don’t. Our biggest group is 11 skiers supported by a Bell 212 helicopter. Our Small Group Heliskiing Trips use the Bell 407 helicopter to support groups of five skiers.
As far as line selection, that’s a factor of conditions and landing options for the helicopter, not the size of the business. With groups of strong riders in stable conditions, CMH goes as steep and big as any commercial ski guide service on the planet. We even offer Steep Weeks in the springtime for aggressive skiers and snowboarders who want to take the extra time to access and rip the steepest lines one rider at a time.
The author concludes the article by poking fun at “German tourists” and suggesting steep terrain is not for them. The author obviously didn’t do his research here either - some of the best skiers I’ve encountered while skiing in Canada, the US, and Europe are Germans.
CMH guests include skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, former Olympians, freeride superstars, young jibbers who go inverted every chance they get, old-timers hoping to milk one more season out of their knees, and thousands of everyday people who come to the oldest, most experienced, biggest and best heli-ski company in the world for these very reasons.
Photo taken by Topher Donahue at CMH Adamants, without speed limits or turn radius rules, just before the sushi buffet.
Almost everyone carries a camera heliskiing or snowboarding these days, even if it's just a camera phone. Of the hundreds or thousands of photos taken by a heliskier or snowboarder during a heliski week with Canadian Mountain Holidays, there will be a couple of great photos, a lot of mediocre photos, a few really bad ones, and one or two that were almost great except for one problem. Those can be some of the most fun. Here are five of my favourite shots that best exemplify the almost-great heliski photo:
Timing: When you’re just about to snap that shot of your friend with snow up to his waist, right in the middle of a sunlit pocket in the trees, in perfect control, another powder hound cartwheels out of control across the photo.
Snowing too hard: There is a good reason the Columbia Mountains in interior British Columbia were the birthplace of heliskiing – it’s one of the snowiest places on earth - but sometimes it can dump too hard to see, ski, or fly and even the best cameras finally succumb to the elements. You’re probably thinking, “Show me!” This was the last run of the day at CMH Bobbie Burns.
Too many boards: Snowboarding zenmaster Rob Stevens decides to try heli-noboarding, a snowboard without bindings, at CMH Gothics, but accidentally ends up on the summit with both his boards. Rob rides the entire 1200-metre run with no bindings and his regular snowboard strapped to his back. It was a great display of skill, but a weird photo.
Trick goes sour: Needs no explanation. Approaching lunchtime at CMH Bugaboos.
Too much fun for fashion: Heliskiers are usually having such a raging good time that they forget to dress for the camera. They also tend to forget about life’s pressures for a while, forget what day of the week it is, and forget to use their smartphones - except for taking pictures.
Ready to go heliskiing already? During early season the powder is often as good as it gets - and it's cheaper.
The best ski website in the world is a no brainer. It’s the snow report for the nearest ski area.
The second is an easy pick too. It’s the avalanche information centre for the mountains where you are going, or planning to go, skiing and snowboarding.
From there, online snow riding information gets a lot more nebulous. Some sites work well for booking the most common ski holidays, others review equipment, endless sites sell equipment and highlight the sport, but a few seem to give skiers something different. Surprisingly, a few of the sites I came across, including my Number One choice, are only partially developed sites that I chose in hopes of encouraging the next generation of ski websites. Here are my top five - after the obvious:
#1 SaveOurSnow This site wins because it addresses the most important issue future skiers will likely face – climate change. This incomplete site reveals how the environment affects winter sports as well as how winter sports affect the environment. It includes everything from news on which ski resorts utilize clean energy systems, to how to make ski travel less environmentally damaging.
#2 Colorado Powder Forecast A quirky meteorologist, with a knack for forecasting sick days, er, I mean ski conditions, put together this unique site that does the work of predicting where the best snow will be in the region - a week or so out - so you can plan accordingly. Check out one of his highly educational slideshows:How To Forecast Your Next Powder Day
The concept would be a good addition to any ski community. Are there any other hybrid weather/snow riding gurus out there in other regions who could do this for other mountain ranges?
#3 PisteHors This site is the gold standard of backcountry news websites. The French-based website's recent news includes detailed information on matters as close to the heart as the current developments in avalanche safety equipment to things as far out as a photograph of a recent dirt avalanche on Mars’ biggest mountain, Olympus Mons - and everything in between.
#4 DogLotion The most apt blend of skiing seriousness and skiing silliness on the web. Of course. It’s Canadian. A vast collection of everything from features on ski superstars to hair-brained stunts like skiing rocks with no snow at all, to unbiased gear reviews, resort info, and a comprehensive guide to Canada’s backcountry huts.
#5 Kootenay Mountain Culture The website for the magazine by the same name. They claim, “Our goal is to motivate readers to interact with mountainous landscapes and their associated cultures. “ I haven't come across a site that makes me want to get outside more than this one.
Of course we like Canadian Mountain Holidays but really it’s the epic heli-skiing and helicopter snowboarding we do that deserves accolades, not our website.
Bugaboos heliskiing photo by Topher Donahue
In February, I rolled into the CMH Gothics expecting the worst. There was no snow on the ground in Revelstoke except for the few dirty, slushy piles left by snowplows. According to the locals it had not snowed in 3 weeks. 12 hours later we were riding powder and I was blown away. It was still good! Here'a hilarious shot I snapped that day of a skier and snowboarder getting some Gothics pow after a 3 week drought:
Three weeks later it had still not snowed any significant amount and powder was hard to find even in the Columbias. One ski guide told me she was thinking about wearing jeans for guiding. It was a weird winter. In fact, as far back as records go, 2009-2010 was the warmest winter ever in Canada.
There was some great skiing this winter. Steve Chambers, manager of CMH Revelstoke, called January 5th, “The single best day of heli-skiing I’ve ever had.” But overall, it was strangely warm and dry. Here are a few "lowlights" from the warmest winter ever:
- In BC, the weather between January 8 and February 9 set a record for the warmest of the period according to records going as far back as 1896.
- It was not only warmest winter in ski country, but also in the Arctic. Experts blame a combination of El Nino and the shrinking polar ice caps for the heat.
- Precipitation was 22 percent below average in Canada.
- Average temperature was 4 degrees C warmer than normal in Canada.
- Parts of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario had 60 percent less precipitation than average.
- Trucks were used to haul snow for the Olympics in Vancouver. However, statistically, Vancouver is the warmest city to ever host the winter Olympics.
- It was said that the Vancouver Olympics could "be the first winter Olympics you can attend in shorts and tees."
- After an unusual blizzard in Washington DC, a headline on the FanHouse website covering the Olympics read, “More snow in DC than BC.”
Here'a a shocking clip of a snowpack report for the Cascade Range, an area across the US border that shared our winter that didn't happen:
So, as a heli-skier or heli snowboarder, what conclusion should you draw from this winter?
If you’re a pessimist, you’ll expect things to get lots worse. In which case you'd better ski every chance you get before there is no snow at all on planet Earth.
If you’re a statistician, you’ll go skiing every chance you get because that gives you the best chance of getting good snow.
If you’re a gambler, you’ll go skiing every chance you get in December and January betting on the short days giving the best chance of the deep fluff.
If you’re a realist, you’ll go skiing every chance you get and just book your trip around your life, as always, knowing that the Columbia Mountains give you the best chance of epic powder skiing.