This morning I awoke to the season’s first snow dusting the high peaks of the Rockies. The view got me daydreaming about skiing, and I started looking through my photos of heliskiing in Canada with CMH for a bit of early season inspiration.
For some reason, each photo that caught my eye had something in common: the ski pole interacting with the powder snow. On further inspection, I realized that the ski pole is perhaps the least heroic aspect of ski imagery, but while heliskiing in deep Canadian powder, the interface between the ski pole and the snow is a sight to behold.
The snow is often so deep, that most experienced heliskiers prefer shorter poles than they would use at a ski resort. Here, you can see why – the pole might as well be 10cm long:
Good heliskiers lead with their poleplants, but don’t lean on them. This snow is so deep that if the skier leans on his ski pole it will sink to the point of face plant instead of a pole plant:
During a heli-assisted ski touring week in CMH Adamants, I shot an especially scenic run with a camera mounted on my chest and a remote trigger down my sleeve. The view past the ski pole of the Adamants splendor is the result:
At one point in each deep powder turn everything is moving except the ski pole; a momentary respite from the moving, flying, floating world of powder skiing:
This is one of those moments that defines heliskiing in Canada. When CMH Cariboos Manager John Mellis gets eaten by a snow mushroom he gets spit out on his feet and smiling…
Curious if you ski well enough to go heliskiing in Canada? You probably do, but give us a call at (800) 661-0252 to ease your mind.
After John Entwistle’s heartbreaker April Fools joke - where he lured us in with promises of the “Best Heliski Photos. Ever.” and then left us with perhaps the least inspiring collection of skiing pictures ever published - I had to balance things out and put together these five face shots from the winter of 2010/2011 in honor of just how sweet it really is riding deep powder with CMH Heliskiing.
In the process of making these five ski photos I lost and cracked lenses, filled my camera with snow a hundred times, and took a thousand lousy pictures - but I'm not complaining.
Blower Equals: 10 weeks of almost non-stop snow, and then a bluebird day in CMH Gothics.
Powder Eyes: After a hundred faceshots at -20C, this is what a smile looks like.
The Ghost Grab: The kind of helicopter snowboarding where the difference between a face shot on the ground and a face shot in the air is immaterial.
The Ghost Pole Plant: The kind of powder skiing face shot where the pole plant becomes immaterial.
The Cariboos-Flavoured Face Shot: Does life get any better than this?
Any heliskiers or snowboarders out there have a good story to share about the powder manna of the 2010/2011 CMH Ski Season? About how many face shots you got in a row? About how deep it really was?
Well, it is the first day of April, the last month of heli-skiing at CMH for the 2010/2011 season. So why not post a blog that contains the best heli-ski photos we have accumulated over the season? Sounds like a plan to me! Here they are:
1. This skier is clearly having a great time in Mcbride... They are actually just stepping out of the helicopter in this particular shot.
2. The Cariboos tried skiing out of a bus one day... It worked so well that we are contemplating expanding to "Bus-skiing" in the near future! It is great because you can fit 56 people on, and they are nearly as versatile as any helicopter we have ever seen. We invented heli-skiing... Might as well continue the progression of the sport here at CMH!
3. This skier was part of our new "poweder relaxation" trip that happened this past January. You would be surprised how deep snow can give you just as much relaxation as a holiday in Mexico- (Frustrating sunburn NOT included...)
4. In order to make some of our guests who are used to skiing in Alaska or other coastal regions feel at home, we sometimes break out the hose so they can once again feel moist. You are welcome.
5. If you read our blog and follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you have probably heard about how good it is up here this year. Amazing what some photoshop and marketing can do... This is what the Bugaboos looked like yesterday... Skiing anyone?
Alright, so if you haven't figured it out yet... April Fools! Clearly these 5 photos are not the best we have seen this year... In fact, the last one is from CMH Summer Adventures last year.
For those of you who read the title, got excited, and were then equally disappointed when you read this, I leave you with this thought: Winter is still very much on!
Bobbie Burns last week:
With some of the most epic snow conditions in the last two decades, CMH sent me to the Cariboos last week to document the bottomless deep. I don’t know how many times I heard the guests say, “This is the best skiing I’ve ever done!”
Another said: "This is heaven. Snow heaven."
If any of you heliski fanatics have friends who wonder why skiers and snowboarders travel from all over the world to ski the Interior of British Columbia, here’s a photographic tour of last week in the Cariboos that answers the question quite clearly.
Day One Pilot Chris telling us the right way to use the helicopter as the ultimate ski lift:
Day Two The massive snow sculptures hanging in the trees are a pretty clear sign of the kind of winter going down in the Columbia Mountains:
Day Three A short break in the snowfall gave us a chance to look around at the mind-blowing Cariboo terrain:
Day Four Low visibility and another snow storm kept us in the Lower Canoe Valley near the Cariboo Lodge, but nobody was complaining:
Day Five A mixture of sun and clouds let us ski some of the great wide open with magical ice fogs hanging in the air:
Day Six Another storm meant skiing in the trees and the massive snowpack meant open season on the pillow drops:
Day Seven A classic CMH Saturday where the sky clears, the powder is perfect, and the snow crystals hang sparkling in the air long after the skiers pass by:
All good things come to an end. Sipping a cappuccino on the deck in the sunshine while saying goodbye to a week in ski paradise:
Send this to any of your friends or family who don’t understand why you’re crazy about heliskiing - or better yet check our space availablility and get up here yourself while the snow conditions are the stuff legends are made of!
Our heliskiing season began just over 4 weeks ago and in that time our guides and guests have sent in some fantastic photos. In honour of Twitter's #FriFotos and because it's the end of the month, and year, here are some of the best photos we've seen this month.
Here we go:
#1 - Blower Snow at CMH Galena on December 17, by CMH Heli-Skiing guide, Michael Welch:
#2 - Waist Deep, CMH Gothics on December 14:
#3 - Alpine Pick Up, CMH Revelstoke on December 9 by CMH Guide Jorg Wilz. We are proudly associated with Alpine Helicopters who supply our Bell 212s, Bell 407s and Bell L3s for Heli-Skiing and Heli-Hiking, not to mention fantastic pilots that are specially trained to fly in our mountain environment and top-notch engineers at each lodge for daily maintenance of the helicopter fleet. When your legs are aching after skiing 7000 vertical metres of powder in a day, this taxi is a welcome sight.
#4 - Cold Smoke, CMH Galena on Dec 4, 2010 by Michael Welch. Yes, this was how we started the heliski season. It just keeps getting better.
#5 - CMH Bugaboos Guiding Team, by CMH Guide Andrew Wexler. I love this photo because of what it represents. The guide in the foreground in Dani Loewenstein, one of our newer guides and standing behind him is one of our longest-serving heliski guides, Kobi Wyss who is somewhat of a legend in these parts. Heliskiing truly is a sport and a career for all!
What about you? What was your favourite ski photo of December 2010? Share it with us by posting it on our CMH Facebook Page.
Happy New Year from all of us at CMH Heli-Skiing. From our 11 Heli-Ski lodges to our office in Banff and our team at the Calgary Airport, we hope that 2011 is filled with deep powder, cold champagne and good friends.