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Spring Break: Why Snowpants are better than Bikinis


girl snowboard trees powderLounging on the beach for spring break is an institution; heli-skiing for spring break is an inspiration. 

The trouble with the beach holiday is that it sounds so good from home, but then you get there and there and it's surprisingly boring.  One year, during my family's quintessential beach spring break, my sister got so bored that she decided to write her boyfriend’s name on her bum with sunscreen every day.  It was all well and good until the toasted skin around the name began to peel - that, and the sunburn lasted longer than the boyfriend.

Then there are the pleasures of visiting the most popular spring break destinations during one of the most popular travel times of the year.  First there are the crowds, the over-the-top parties just outside your hotel window, the waiting lines at restaurants and the traffic - all compounded by your kids high expectations.  You know how it goes.  When you get home and you feel like you need a vacation.

Or you can take your family heliskiing and blow their expectations out of the galaxy.  Everyone expects you to come back from spring break with tan lines; nobody expects you and your family to show up Monday morning after spring break with ear-to-ear grins and that far away look in your eyes that says, “I just had the best family spring break of my entire life!”

With the growing popularity of parents heliskiing with their children, CMH Heli-Skiing has designed the Next Generation heliski program to fit the ski endurance of younger skiers - and the pocketbooks of their parents. 

The bottom line is that Next Generation Heli-Skiing trips are half price for the younger skiers.  The trip is open to any skier but if you have someone between the ages of 12-25 who wants to join you, they get the trip for half price, and that includes half the guaranteed vertical and the entire week's world-class CMH hospitality and accomodation.  

spring break heliski family

Over the next few weeks, CMH Lodges will be welcoming a number of families who have decided to skip the sandy toes and sunburned shoulders in favor of snowboards, powder skis, face shots and rosy cheeks.

And the big news: there are still a few spaces left on the in CMH Monashees March 10-17 and March 17-24 for this season, and next year as well if you’re already committed to the bikini option this time around.

9 gear mistakes people make on backcountry ski trips


CMH Heli-Skiing gear guru Bruce Rainer has been taking care of the shop at CMH Galena for 22 years.  He’s seen the transition to fat skis, custom ski boots, and online gear sales - not always for the best. 

We talked about the mistakes people make in buying gear for world-class backcountry ski trips, and while he spoke he worked on a snowboard binding that was the cat’s meow for the resort, but when the deep snow works its way under the binding it literally separates the binding from the board.

Bruce laughed at the irony of our conversation while working on the bindings: “Things that seem to work just fine at the ski hill, sometimes don’t work at all in the environment we ride in out here.”

He quoted former CMH Revelstoke area manager Buck Corrigan who had this to say when explaining the difference between ski resort and backcountry skiing: “We ski in the snow, not on the snow.”

white bad backcountry

Here’s the 9 biggest gear mistakes people make, according to Bruce, when going backcountry, cat or heli-skiing:

  1. Taking new boots on a ski trip.  Skiers spend a bunch of money on new boots for their dream trip and then end up with sore feet, blisters, and simply don’t have as much fun.
  2. Buying stiff, top-of-the-line racing boots for deep powder.  Most people prefer a softer boot for powder skiing anyway, and stiff boots just make the fluid motions of deep powder skiing more awkward and difficult for all but the world’s best skiers.
  3. Fixing boot issues with thick, custom orthotics.  When skiers are having foot issues, they try to solve them by retrofitting their boots with custom orthotics that take up so much space in the boot that they decrease the volume and often make the boots even less comfortable.  Bruce noted that in numerous occasions he has helped people by simply taking their orthotics out of the boots.  Bruce's advice: if you are going to use custom footbeds, get them fitted to the boots from day one.
  4. Assuming gear that works in bounds will work well in the backcountry.  Skis and snowboards that work in a ski area, even a famous powder area like Alta, don’t necessarily work well when there is no firm base under the powder.  Part of the issue is the sheer volume of deep powder heli-skiing allows.  “Even on a good powder day,” explains Bruce, “in a resort you only get a few runs in the fresh before it gets cut up and packed down - out here we ski fresh snow all day every day.”
  5. Wearing small, low-profile goggles.  You’ll notice the ski guides all wear the big, dorky looking goggles that allow lots of space between the face and the lenses.  This keeps the warmth from the face from fogging up the goggles and work far better than the more stylish close-fitting goggles.
  6. Wearing inadequate ski gloves.  Many cool ski gloves have short gauntlets that quickly fill with snow, or have too little insulation to keep the fingers warm in the deep winter of Western Canada.  
  7. Skiing in too many clothes.  “People go out in big, heavy jackets, and pretty soon they’re sweating, their goggles steam up, and then it’s just not as fun anymore.”  says Bruce.  If you don’t know what to wear, ask an experienced heli-skier or ski guide.  
  8. Wearing jackets with open necks and fur.  This should be obvious, but after a few tumbles or even just a meaty face shot, a fashionable fur-rimmed jacket will be holding a kilo of snow that slowly melts down your neck.  Save the fashion for St. Anton or Aspen, and bring a jacket designed for powder to CMH Heli-Skiing.
  9. WEARING WHITE!  “This last one is the biggest mistake of all!” said Bruce, “It’s a matter of safety!”  When you wear white, you blend in with the snow and you make it harder for your ski partners and the guides to see you, and if you get lost even the sharp-eyed pilots will have more trouble finding you.

When he’s not fitting skis, adjusting snowboard binding positioning for better performance in the deep, and answering gear questions, Bruce is always hoping for another ride on his favourite ski run in the universe: Galena’s Freefall.

Photo of a heliskier demonstrating why yellow and blue are better colours than white when riding in the backcountry.

Pro snowboarder: "The deepest snow I've ever ridden!"


deep powder ski guideI talked to a professional snowboarder last week who said that the conditions in the Columbia Mountains were creating the deepest snow he had ever ridden - then it snowed for the next week straight...

Over the last 2 weeks, the Columbia Mountains’ snow machine has dumped nearly two metres of low-density snow at treeline in the CMH Heli-Skiing tenures. 

Shooting photos in these conditions resulted in some exceptional images of the deep powder heliskiing experience, some of which I shared last week, but some of the best face shot photos have yet to see the light of day.  It seems only fitting that the loyal readers of the Heli-Ski Blog should see them first.

This first shot shows CMH Galena guide Bernie Wiatzka, the ski guide with by far the most experience at the tree skiing paradise of Galena, doing what he does best - disappearing in a cloud of cold, white smoke.  

It snowed between 10cm and 30cm every night, and the CMH Galena Lodge was as fascinating in these conditions as the skiing itself:

ski lodge snowfall

While much of the time, the snow was so deep that it was impossible to tell if the CMH Heli-Skiing guests were on skis or snowboards, occasionally everything would ride to the surface and the deep powder travel tool of choice would be revealed:

heli snowboarding ghost
Conditions were ideal for big air, and the CMH guides were in good form suggesting the best pillow drops, not to mention the mandatory air on some of the runs.  Here, the co-owner of The Source snowboard shop demonstrates one method of choking on a mushroom:

snowboarder face shot
The CMH Ski Guides wear bright orange jackets to make them easier to follow, but in these conditions much of the time they were nearly invisible in a cloud of snow.  Luckily, CMH Ski Guides, one shown here up to his earlobes in low-density powder, are exceptionally good at giving directions and nobody had any issues following them down run after run of the deepest snow imaginable: 

deep powder tree skiing
Even the Bell 212 helicopter, known to be the safest helicopter ever made, seemed to enjoy the mind-blowing storm cycle:

healicopter heavy snow

Yesterday, the CMH Heli-Skiing area's snow reports showed up to half a metre of new snow over the last 24 hours - on top of what you see here.  If you haven't booked a heli-ski trip yet this year, call your boss, your partner, and CMH Reservations at 1 (800) 661-0252.  Not necessarily in that order!

An Expert's Perspective on How to Fit a Ski Boot


Buying ski boots seems like it should be easy, but for some reason when I start trying to decide which boots are the perfect fit, I always feel like Cinderella’s sister.

So for an expert’s opinion on how to fit ski boots, I tracked down Matt Carlson of Surefoot, the ski boot company that customizes Lange ski boots for the ideal fit and performance - a favourite brand among CMH Heli-Skiing guides.  Matt is a veteran moguls and aerials competitor who moved from the East Coast to Utah when he’d had enough of skiing on hard snow. 

custom ski boots heli skiing

He replied with what is certainly the best explanation I’ve ever heard on how to fit ski boots:

Generally, each level of skier ability requires a similar fit.  The goal should be to have a boot that is as snug as possible without being painful. Non-custom boots pack out very quickly, and will become much looser after just a few days of skiing.  Therefore, they need to be very snug at first.

Even though each level of skier needs a snug fit, there are a few different things each needs:

Beginner skiers needs a soft flexing ski boot.  Beginners do not have the balance of an expert, so the flex helps them stay centered in the middle of the ski.  A boot that is too stiff will result in the skier leaning back.  But there is a catch; often the softest boots are very poorly designed and are very wide.  Find a soft flexing boot that is not too wide, and not made out of poor quality plastic.  Typically the softest-flexing quality boot for men is about a 90 flex and for women is 75 to 80.

Intermediate skiers require a slightly stiffer boot to transfer energy quickly from the boot to the ski, but still soft enough to allow them some forward flex. Often the flex for guys will be 100 to 110 and women 80 to 90. The weight and height of this skier also helps to determine the flex.  The more leverage the skier has, the stiffer the boot the needs to be.  It is also more important for this skier to have a slightly narrower boot to transfer the energy quicker.

Advanced skiers have good balance and rely on their ability in order to stay centered over the skis.  Therefore, they can have a stiffer boot that will transfer the energy much faster and result in better performance.  This skier usually wants a narrower boot to transfer the energy faster.  Depending on the ability level, this guy will want a 110 to 140 flex and women 90 to 110.

For everyone: Ski boot companies save money by not making a 22-sized shell but just slide the 22 liner into the 23. If the shell is not the size of the liner, don’t buy the boot.  Most importantly the skier must not rent.  Rental boots are lowest quality of all ski boots and they do not help the skier improve or enjoy their hard earned vacation - plus they can be gross.

Custom orthotics:
If the customer is not getting a completely custom ski boot it is very important that they get a ski orthotic.

  • First of all, it must be specifically designed for skiing.  It will support the foot in the best position for skiing and result in more comfort and performance.
  • Ask the store what position they make the orthotic in.  All feet are different and one way of making the orthotic does not work for all.  Generally orthotics are made un-weighted, semi-weighted, or fully weighted.  If the store only makes them using one method, the skier should go somewhere else.
  • Find out if the ski orthotic will hold the foot in neutral - the best and strongest position for skiing.  If it does not hold the foot in neutral then they should not buy the insole.

Since all feet are different, the best ski boot is a custom ski boot.  But if that is not possible, then the skier must make sure the store has ski boots in several different widths.  Some examples are 98mm widths, 100mm widths, and 102mm widths.  If the ski shop does not have all these widths in various flexes than the skier should go somewhere else. The shop should also be taking very detailed measurements of the width and length of the feet to immediately narrow down the choices.

Ski racing –There are narrow and stiff boots available, but for children the flex still needs to be very soft.

Extreme cold – Some after-market liners like Intuition are great in the extreme cold, but they break down quicker and do not ski as well as other custom liners. Also find out what ski boot heaters are available.  The highest end boot heaters work very well - you get what you pay for.

Heat-molding a standard liner will improve the fit, but if heated the liner will break down faster.  Unless the liner is designed to be heat molded, it is usually best to just ski on it and it will mold to the foot the same amount heat molding will, but last longer.

The best is a custom ski boot with ski orthotic that holds the foot in neutral, a shell that is the proper stiffness and width, and a custom liner that fills in all the gaps between the foot and the shell.  A boot heater is always a nice way to top it off.

Of course the Surefoot Custom Boot is the ultimate for performance and comfort for everything from riding the lift at your local hill to a dream trip to the world's greatest skiing.

Photo of finding out if the boots fit in CMH Cariboos by Topher Donahue.


What do Gretchen Bleiler and Tyler Ceccanti have in common?


There is no better way to put the World’s Greatest Skiing in perspective than through the eyes and words of the world’s greatest ski and snowboard athletes.  Recently, Gretchen Bleiler, one of the world’s most accomplished snowboarders, and Tyler Ceccanti, a ski star in the most recent Warren Miller film, “Like There’s No Tomorrow” both tasted CMH Heli-Skiing and, like many of us, rank heliskiing in Canada with CMH among their favourite moments in the snow.

Tyler was interviewed by Stephanie Stricklen of KGW Portland and, between clips of him ripping jaw-dropping pillow lines at CMH Monashees, he had this to say about heli-skiing with CMH: “The best ski runs I’ve ever had in my life.”

Gretchen was interviewed by National Geographic for their “Ultimate Adventure Bucket List 2012.”  She chose CMH Galena as her "must-do" experience, and summarized heli-skiing in Canada with CMH simply: “Amazing terrain, amazing snow, and totally experienced, safe and fun guides and staff.  And the food is delicious - need I say more?”

Great athletes have been part of the fabric of CMH ever since CMH invented heli-skiing in the 60s. Jim McConkey, the father of legendary extreme skier Shane McConkey, was on some of the original exploratory ski missions into the Columbia Mountains with Hans Gmoser in the early 60s that inspired the birth of heliskiing. 

the worlds greatest skiing

Ever since then, a long line of ski and snowboard superstars have visited CMH.  Sometimes, it is it in the line of duty during a film project, but more often a visit to CMH for the world’s ski elite is not so different from the reasons the rest of us go to CMH: for a week in ski paradise far from the pressures of the rest of our lives.

And amongst the super-athletes, it’s not just the skiers and snowboarders who find CMH Heli-Skiing to be an incomparable experience.  Martina Navratilova, the tennis superstar, went heli-skiing at CMH Galena, and at the end of one particularly spectacular run she turned to her guide and said: “I’d have given up tennis ten years earlier if I had known about this!”

Booking day for the 2013 Heli-Ski Season at CMH is November 17.  To assure yourself a spot on the prime weeks, call 1.800.661.0252

The Best Skis For The Best Skiing- 2011/2012


There is a saying in the ski world: "A skier without skis, is simply walking". Alright... I just made that up, but seriously! The most important piece of equipment for all skiers has to be the one thing that makes the sport what it is: skis. Here at CMH, we like to make sure that you have the best possible equipment for the job while navigating your first gladed run, getting your first face shot, hitting your first million foot milestone, or shralping the gnar with Dave Gauley out at the steep camps in the Cariboos.

Ski technology is coming pretty close to providing us with the perfect ski; the one that can do it all. But in reality, at CMH we don't care about ice, hard pack, or how perfect the ridges are in the corduroy (what happens between you and your après attire is none of our business!)... We only care about what will ultimately keep you somewhat afloat in the great sea of white. We are currently working with some engineers and ski designers from Atomic to create what is going to be deemed as "the ultimate heli-ski". Though details are limited as of right now, word from our  laboratory in a top secret location (The Monashees, 142Km North of Revelstoke in B.C., Canada) is that we can expect something by next year! For this year, we have a ROCKIN' lineup from K2 skis that gets us more excited than we've ever been before!

So you are excited about heli-skiing, you've booked your trip (or you better get on it!), and the snow is starting to fly. Here are some of the options you have to look forward to this winter:


K2 Coomback resized 600K2 COOMBAck  All-Terrain Rocker          135/102/121  Radius: 22m @ 174

Heli’s, cats, skinning or lifts, the Coomback  is equally versatile, balancing the lightweight attributes of a Back model with the confidence and performance characterized by many side models. This is the ski you’ll see a myriad of bindings on: alpine, tele, super light touring and more descent focused touring.

Performance: 50% Powder / 50% Variable                             

Sizes: 167, 174, 181cm                                   

Construction: Triaxial Braided, Cap, Fir/Aspen


SideStashK2 SideStash  All-Terrain Rocker           139/108/127  Radius: 25m @ 181

Whether tracking out your secret stash in bounds or heading out the backcountry gate to harvest week-old pow, the SideStash is the perfect ski. With a longer rise for 2011/12, the All-Terrain shovel rocker provides even more floatation and predictability to flash wide-open slopes and the nimbleness required to charge tight chutes. When the snow is all tracked out, the powerful metal-laminate construction delivers a smooth, damp, and stable ride as you confidently blast through leftover crud.

Performance: 70% Powder / 30% Variable                           

Sizes: 167, 174, 181, 188                                  

Construction: Metal TNC, Hybritech Sidewall, Aspen/Paulownia


pon2oonK2 Pon2oon  Powder Rocker                   157/132/122 @ 179cm   Radius: 30m @ 179

Designed with the same philosophy of slaying powder easier, faster and with less effort, the all-new 2011 / 2012 Pon2oon is rockered in the tip and tail and features a redesigned Powder tip and a non twin tip Progressive Powder tail. While the ski has similar pivot performance to it’s predecessor, it now comes with more predictable turn initiation and added breaking power in the tail. The dimensions on the Pon2oon increase as the ski gets longer in length, maxing out at a whopping 134mm underfoot in the 189cm size. Get out your snorkel!

Performance: 90% Powder / 10% Variable                           

Sizes: 159, 169, 179, 189                                        

Construction: Triaxial Braided, Cap, Fir/Aspen


Women’s specific skis:

k2 gotbackK2 GotBack  All-Terrain Rocker             135/102/121   Radius: 20m @ 167

If you thought big waists weren’t sexy, think again. The GotBack packs 102 mm under her belt and is proud of every millimeter. Though no longer the biggest gal in the neighborhood, the GotBack is clearly the most versatile. Lighter and more playful, she’s just as happy going for long walks in the backcountry as she is painting smooth arcs in an open bowl or dancing through tight trees . She says it’s due to her All-Terrain shovel rocker and Bioflex wood core, but I think she’s just being modest.

Performance: 50% Powder / 50% Variable                           

Sizes:  153, 160, 167                                                      

Construction: Triaxial Braided, Cap, Aspen/Paulownia/Bamboo - Bioflex 2

atomic centuryATOMIC  Century:  Powder Rocker          128.5/100/120.5 Radius: 18m @ 166cm

The Century is ATOMIC's premium powder ski for women and its extra Power Rocker 10 delivers an especially uplifting experience in powder snow. Its 100 mm waist width and Powder Rocker ensure optimum lift, while the Step Down 2L sidewall construction and tip-to-tail wood core cushion shocks and hard landings. But freeskiers can enjoy much more than just effortless powder forays: thanks to a pronounced camber in the binding area, the Century also delivers optimum edge grip and precision control on hard snow. The Century is ideal for female skiers looking for a ski which is both effortless and easy to manoeuver in powder snow.        

Sizes: 156, 166             






What's All This Rocker Talk About?

 All-Terrain Rocker : All-Terrain Rocker features an elevated tip for variable and soft snow performance, as well as camber underfoot for power, energy, and edge-hold in firmer conditions.
Simply put, All-Terrain Rocker offers versatility and ease in all snow conditions.

 Powder Rocker:  This tip has the most elevation and longest measurement of Rocker and offers skiers a “surfy” feel with enhanced soft-snow performance. The camber region still exists to ensure edge-hold on firmer conditions.                                                                                                                                  Simply put, Powder Rocker provides unmatched flotation in deep snow.



The Trouble with Skiing and Snowboarding


Even before I started writing about snow sport, I was frustrated by the fact that snowboarding and skiing have two different names.  It makes the whole discussion around the two colossally worthwhile ways of playing in the snow so very awkward.

ski snowboard debate Take for example the phone conversation that begins many a day on the slopes:
You want to say, “Hey bro, wanna go skiing tomorrow?”

Immediately it’s hard to know what to say.   He rides a snowboard, but you ski.  What do you say? 

If you say, “Do you want to go snowboarding?” when you’ll be on skis, that doesn’t sound quite right either. 

Then there is the whole discussion around the sport that is unnecessarily difficult.  Take for example the snow sports industry.  One time I was at the SIA Tradeshow, and ended up in a conversation with a representative of a famous snowboard company.  I mentioned “heli-skiing”, and he immediately held up his hand, corrected me with “heli-snowboarding” and gave me a disapproving look.

It seems like things are changing, and many powder hounds, one boarded or two, have come to the conclusion that besides the physics of the ride, experientially there is really little difference between the two.  Sure, skis are better for moving around in the backcountry, and snowboards are better in crud, but both are simply bitchin’ ways to play in the snow.

It was a snowboarder who showed me the light.  My friend Karl, a snowboarder, called me one day to see if I wanted to go shralp some pow.  “Do you want to go skiing?” he asked.  Then, throughout the day, when we scored an especially nice run, he’d say, “The skiing on the left was totally untracked, let’s ski that again.” And at the end of the day, “Killer ski day, thanks for driving!”

Later, I had a conversation about it with Karl.  “Why do you call it all skiing?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders and replied, “It’s all the same.”

Years later, I met another group of people who felt the same way: the CMH staff.  For them, it is all quite simply, fantastically, skiing.  And why shouldn’t it be; when you’re going out and frolicking in bottomless fluff on some of the most spectacular ski mountains on planet earth, why get too caught up in the nomenclature. 

In snow like the above photo, at CMH Cariboos, half the time you can’t even tell what someone is riding on anyway.  Any of you snowboarders or skiers out there have an issue with calling it all the same thing?

New Zealand Update - Epic Snow for the World Heli Challenge


Reminiscent of last winter in Interior British Columbia (epic skiing photos here), New Zealand is getting dumped on bigger than any time in memory.  Near Wanaka on the South Island, heliskiers have been able to ride from the summits of peaks  all the way to the valley bottoms for the first time in over 30 years.

cariboos deep powder The above shot is going deep in the Cariboos, March 2011.  For globe-trotting skiers and snowboarders, With New Zealand now going off, 2011 is shaping up to be the best skiing in a generation. 

The blog for Wanaka-based Harris Mountains Heli-Ski describes the unusual season much the same as the way the 2010-2011 season started at the CMH areas in Western Canada.  It reads: “Mother nature held off and held off, but last week she dumped like no other season we can remember.”

At the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, CMH was forced to delay the opening of one of the lodges because of a lack of snow in Western Canada in early December.  By Christmas it started snowing and never really stopped for more than a few days until after the CMH ski season ended in May.

This week is also the beginning of the World Heli Challenge in Wanaka, a two week snowsport competition and lifestyle event, and one of the only helicopter-based freeride events on the planet.  As of this weekend, the forecast called for snow all the way to sea level in parts of the South Island, including Wellington which typically receives no snow.

Two weeks are scheduled for the event to allow for weather and conditions, but two days are the heart of the action.  One will be a freeride competition in a natural terrain park, and the other will be a Big Mountain competition on the steepest terrain in the area. 

Both events will feature 60 of the world’s best ski and snowboard athletes and, with the deep snowpack combined with the Kiwi level of risk acceptance, the Big Mountain day scheduled for the end of this week promises some of the more outrageous lines ever ridden in an organized event.

Are you skiing in New Zealand right now?  What's it like out there?

Grass Skiing – Is FIS Just the Beginning?


When a friend emailed me a link to grass skiing news, at first I thought it was some kind of silliness from a humor segment in a Warren Miller film or a light-hearted brainchild of bored and creative ski bums to help them pass the summer months.

grass skiing summer

Then I dug a little deeper a realized it is a legitimate ski discipline sanctioned by the FIS, with a World Cup Tour, official rankings, 116 pages of rules and regulations, and Spandex body suits.  I can only imagine how nice it must feel to lay down arcs on perfect corduroy or schralp some fluffy pow after a hard season on the grass circuit.

Grass skiing was invented in Germany in 1966 (just one year after CMH invented heliskiing!) with the idea being to give ski racers a method for training during the summer months. Now, with the proliferation of outdoor sports, grass skiing has caught on in places as disparate as Taiwan, Iran and Japan.

Caterpillar-like treads are used in place of skis, and the rolling contact between the skier and the slope seems to cause little damage or erosion to the grass slope. Compared to snow skiing, the ride looks like the difference between an Abrams and an Audi, but the body position is remarkably similar to ski racing and would surely give ski racers a way to hold their edge, so to speak, during the summer months.

So what will the future of grass skiing hold? Perhaps kite skiing on golf courses? Rodeo 720s in Astroturf-lined halfpipes far from any mountains?   Grass snowboarding? Will there be a backcountry equivalent complete with gnarly lines, multiday traverses, sick air, and BASE jumping stunts (Grassbasing?) off the edge of some airy pasture high in the Alps?

Pampas grass grows up to 3 metres tall. Maybe ski areas will start growing Pampas on the ski slopes and open the lifts in the summer for the over the head, choker grass skiing experience?  Or maybe, with climate change, in 50 years grass skiing will be all we get?

Not likely, but then again, I never would have guessed we’d see off-road skateboarding either...

Photo By Christian Jansky (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

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