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5 Last-Minute Gifts for the Heli-Skier in your life


Looking for some (very) last minute gift ideas for the heli-skier in your life? I am not sure you will get all of these under the tree or in the stocking on Christmas day...but that is okay as long as the intended receipent of your largess gets it by the time they go heli-skiing!

Contour HD1. Helmet Cam.  There are some really cool HD cameras on the market right now. For smooth action look for something that shoots in 720-60p  Check out offerings from Contour and GoPro  

 2. Flip-flops.  There is nothing better than a pair of flip flops for hanging around the lodge. I especially like the Fannings from Reef with the bottle opener in the sole. But remember, no glass in the spa area...get a plastic cup from the bar.

3. Multi-tool.  You never know when you are going to need a multi-tool. Knife, pliers, screw's all there. Just don't forget to take it out of your carry-on before you get on the plane. Check out Leatherman or Gerber.

4. iPod Touch.  Why carry a computer on a heli-trip? Alright sometimes you need one...especially if you get the helmet cam mentioned above. The iPod Touch is the ticket.  Watch movies on the bus from Calgary, listen to some tunes to get you ready for skiing, check email, surf the internet and send photos to your friends back home, apps to impress all your new friends at the bar.

5.Compact Binoculars.  These always are great to have. There is so much to look at when you are eating lunch or an extra few minutes before the next pick up. Like most things you can spend a lot but check out the Ravens from Carson...$79

Bonus: And don't forget to make sure your favourite heliskier has a trip booked with CMH.  Pay in full with your Amex and recieve a $500 gift certificate at Surefoot for some slick new ski boots! Wouldn't that be a nice stocking stuffer?

Happy Holidays everyone!



The New CMH Guest Pack


By Marc Piche

One of the most valuable aspects of our annual winter guides training is the review of incidents that occurred in the field the previous year. Most of these case studies are avalanche-related and are presented by one of the guides from the area involved. The goal is to offer an opportunity to all CMH guides to learn from the experience of those who were there, and also to determine if any operational changes need to be made to either prevent or reduce the chance of a similar occurrence in the future.
The  new CMH guest pack
In the fall of 2008 during guides training, we reviewed an incident where a guest was caught in a very small avalanche but buried very deeply in a wind scoop near a boulder. Although the buried person was successfully dug out without serious injury, both the guides and guests involved in the rescue felt strongly that it would have been beneficial to have more shovels on hand immediately.

It’s not the first time we’ve discussed this at CMH, but this incident prompted our decision to have all guests carry a shovel and probe in a small pack while heli-skiing and heli-boarding starting this coming season.

Last winter we tested several different brands of packs, shovels and probes in an effort to come up with a package that is as low profile, easy-to-use, and lightweight as possible.  We worked with Arc’Teryx, who custom-designed our new pack to fit the probe and shovel we chose from Black Diamond.  As you can see from the photo above, the sleek design does not impede a skier or riders ability.

We were encouraged by the positive response of all guests who tested the new packs last year. We see this as an important step toward being even better prepared in case of a mishap.

While out skiing, all guests will still be expected to take turns carrying a two-way radio, and to ski at the rear or middle of the group while doing so.  As we have stated many times at CMH, overall safety is the responsibility of every skier.

For those skiers and riders who bring your own radios, please contact our Operations Coordinator ( if you need information about programming them with the correct frequencies and tones.

Have you booked your 2010 Heli-Ski vacation yet? If you are still sitting on the fence, we encourage you to read this article before you book your Heli-Ski trip in BC.

The Best Skis Make it Easier


"I straight-lined through 35-degree trees for about 2-300 meters..."

With the ski department of my local sporting goods shop featuring as many shapes and sizes as the bikini department, I had to find out what a ski guide thinks about all the recent ski innovations.  Dave Gauley, the assistant manager of CMH Cariboos is an outspoken proponent of all things ski.  He started Steep Weeks at CMH and was selected one of the Top 50 skiers in North America by Powder Magazine - although if you ask him he'll likely tell you there were only 50 skiers back then.  In case you believe his humilty, here's a YouTube clip of Dave going sick near Mt. Waddington in the BC Coast Range.

In between shifts stocking the lodge with enough firewood to keep a winter’s worth of heli-skiers cozy and warm, Dave found the time to share this perspective with us and compared ski design evolution to the technology in rock climbing that opened up new frontiers of mountain sport for everyone, not just the cutting-edge athletes.

Topher Donahue:  I’ve noticed a lot of guides don’t wear the super fat skis, and I haven’t seen any guides on the reverse camber designs.  Why is that?
Dave Gauley: Well, I’m happy to give you my take on skis, but it might not be what you're looking for.

TD: Fair enough.  What’s your take?
DG:  The problem with straight rocker reverse sidecut designs, like the Spatula and Pontoon, is that they give you no degree of control on harder snow or not-so-deep powder with a firm surface underneath.  Even here we don’t always have bottomless powder.

TD: It seems like every year there is a new big thing in ski design.  Are these new skis really helpful or just a marketing strategy?
DG: Ski design has gone through radical changes in the last decade. The last 2 or 3 years have been some of the most interesting - with the evolution of rockered, reverse sidecut designs.  Now, skis like Rossignol's S7 and the K2's Obsethed are leading the way by incorporating rocker, reverse sidecut at the tip and tail, with traditional camber and sidecut underfoot. The result is a super versatile ski that excels in any snow condition.  Last year I skied exclusively on the Rossi S7 (Outside Magazine S7 review.), and the K2 Obsethed (EpicSki review.) and now I look at the mountain with a totally different set of eyes.  

TD: You’ve looked at a lot of mountains, so that’s a pretty dramatic statement. How do you look at the mountains differently with these skis and do you think other people will feel the same?
DG: These designs are a little wild, and people will be reluctant to try these skis. I must admit the first time I had them (The Rossignol S7) on my feet I thought they looked ridiculous. But my first run I was sold. I straight-lined through 35-degree trees for about 2-300 meters then was able to throw my skis sideways to dump some speed, and fully be in control. So you can just go straight through tight or tough tree or terrain sections and be confident that you will be able to get it together when the terrain opens up. Not so with conventional skis. Whatever speed you reach on conventional skis you have to be able to deal with. Not a problem when the snow is super deep and slow, but when the going gets fast...

TD: That's kind of a quantum leap if you ask me.  So why will other people be reluctant?
DG: I think a lot of people, guides included, are reluctant to ski on innovative skis because of the stigma. They feel that fat or radically shaped skis are weak and for bad skiers. But the same thing was the case when the first fat skis came out. I don't see anybody skiing on skinny 205 GS skis any more. Some people need more time to wrap their heads around it. I am all for making mountain sports easier. For example, in climbing I don't try to climb a 5.13 in my mountain boots. I choose a weapon for the task.  (TD: In this case tight fitting, goofy-looking slippers.) 

TD: You mentioned the problem of the pontoon-style rockered skis on firm snow. Did you notice any problem with this new, shall we say, hybrid design?  
DG: There is NO disadvantage with these new ski designs whether it be for the expert, or not-so-expert skier. They make skiing easier, just as cams and sticky rubber shoes for climbing - which in my opinion makes it better because it opens up more possibilities.

Dave Gauley will be leading the next CMH Steep Week in CMH Cariboos during April of 2010.

5 Things to Consider when buying Ski Boots


As every skier knows, your boots can make or break your day. You don't want to be going into the lodge early because your feet are uncomfortable.  I asked Andy Anderson, hard goods manager for CMH's retail division for 5 things to consider when buying a pair of ski boots.

Andy pointed out that skiing in powder is considerably different than skiing hard pack at your local hill so there are different considerations for your Heli-Ski boot than your typical boot.  Andy suggested the following 5 pointers:
CMH Heli-Skiing & Surefoot

  • Overall comfort - if the boot simply doesn't feel good on your foot, put it back on the shelf.
  • Flex - generally skiers prefer a boot with a little more flex for powder skiing.  Talk to a professional boot fitter, let him or her know the conditions you anticipate skiing in and ensure you get a boot with a flex commensurate to your weight and ability.
  • Toe Box - leave a little 'wiggle room' in the toe box.  You want to be able to move your toes so they don't get cold. Toes crunched up against the end of your boot could ruin your day.
  • Last - consider the 'last' used to mould the boot - ensure the boot is not made on a last that is too narrow or too wide for your foot.
  • Heel Pocket - you want the heel pocket to fit snug so you are not shifting around in your boot.

Andy says "Seek the advise of a professional boot fitter before you commit to a pair of new boots, as opposed to fitting your own off the shelf at your local sporting goods shop".  Consider Surefoot, CMH's new partner for the 2010 Heli-Ski season, for their exceptional boot fitting process and their unconditional guarantee .  

At CMH we want to ensure that you have all the ingredients of a great Heli-Ski trip -right down to your boots. In fact we are offering a $500 USD Surefoot credit to anyone who books a new 7-day Heli-Ski trip with CMH with their American Express card by December 31, 2009. Because if you don’t already own Surefoot ski boots, we think you should get some!

To learn more about Surefoot, visit 

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