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Disturbing tree skiing rumors in Heli-Skiing debunked


Last night I heard a horrifying rumor about Heli-Skiing in British Columbia. One of the CMH Heli-Skiing staff was enjoying herself in the lithium-rich springs of the Halcyon Hot Springs Resort, the legendary springs where the CMH Nomads South program is based, and she heard someone say:

“I’ve heard that when Heli-Skiing the snow is so deep they simply lose people up there.”

Wow. I spent three years researching a book, Bugaboo Dreams, that tells the story of Heli-Skiing from its invention by CMH Heli-Skiing in the mid 60s through the state of the art today.  In the process I interviewed dozens of guides, including competitors of CMH, attended guides training, and went through accident statistics with the president of CMH. I heard hundreds of stories, and never did I hear even a whisky-induced whisper of a skier getting lost in the deep snow.

It makes me think that people who have never been Heli-Skiing must have the most outrageous and inaccurate perception of what we do out there. One of the greatest unknowns is how skiers avoid getting lost in the fantastical tree skiing terrain of the Columbia Mountains that CMH Heli-Skiing calls home. 

Well, here’s how it works:

tree skiing safetyThe Track. When a ski goes through fresh powder snow, it leaves a really obvious track, so the guide leaves a pronounced trail all the way down the hill. Then the next skier leaves a track next to the guide's track. And so on. Stay close to the guide’s track, and it is virtually impossible to get lost.

Guide Instructions. When a run enters the trees, or the guide reaches a place where he or she plans to traverse or enter new terrain, they stop and give instructions.

For example: “The group ahead of us skied to our left, so I’m going to ski to the right of their tracks leaving space for you on my left. Stay to the left of my tracks. When we break out of the trees into a meadow, stay to the left to the heli pickup. Stay left of my tracks and you can't go wrong.”

The Buddy System. Early in the day, the guide asks everyone to pick a ski buddy to ski with in the trees. For the rest of the day everyone skis in teams of two, or sometimes three if there are odd numbers, while following the guide. The buddy system consists of five important aspects:

  1. Take turns going first - just because it’s really fun going first.
  2. The first skier leads the way, keeping an eye on the guide’s tracks and listening for the second skier. 
  3. The second skier yodels, whistles, cheers, yelps, howls, sings, whoops, and makes noise frequently so the first skier can hear that everything is ok.
  4. If the first skier suddenly stops hearing the second skier. STOP IMMEDIATELY. If the first skier falls over, it should be obvious to the second skier...
  5. Most of the time, the other skier shows up and you both carry on down the hill. If the second skier doesn’t show up really soon, CALL ON THE RADIO for the other skiers in the group to watch for them.  Usually, they have just fallen, and are searching for a ski or pole, and a little help from another skier can save a lot of waiting and exhausting work.

The buddy system is so important because tree wells are a very real danger in tree skiing; a hazard not unique to Heli-Skiing. Any backcountry areas or ski resorts with deep powder have tree well hazards, and using these techniques anytime while skiing deep powder in the trees is a good idea.

Tree wells form around trees, where the falling snow is pushed away from the trunk of the tree by its branches. The tree forms a hole in the snow called a tree well. If the snow is four metres deep, the tree well can also be four metres deep.

While deep powder skiing in the trees, be it in a resort, while ski touring, cat skiing or heli-skiing, change your technique around trees:

  • Don’t stop right above a tree - It is easy to tip over while trying to stop, so stop with at least a couple of body lengths of space between you and the nearest tree in your fall line.
  • Don’t turn right above a tree if you can help it - Often you can turn a little earlier, or wait a bit to turn below the tree, or go straight into a clearing, to avoid a hard turn directly above a tree.
  • Take it easy - You’re going to get more powder turns than you can imagine in a day of Heli-Skiing. No need to squeeze in that last turn before a group of trees. Instead, give the trees a wide berth.
CMH Heli-Skiing guides are almost uncanny at helping skiers in the trees and showing everyone a good time. We’ve skied in snow so deep that we step out of the helicopter and sink up to our armpits. Our areas see nearly 50 feet of snow each winter. We’ve skied when it’s snowing so hard that we ski back to the lodge rather than use the helicopter for the last flight, but we’ve never, ever, in 48 years of Heli-Skiing, had the snow so deep that we “simply lose people up there.”

Photo of tree buddies during an epic storm cycle at CMH Galena by Topher Donahue.

Want to be ready for your CMH Heli-Skiing dream trip?


Like most good things in Heli-Skiing, the need drives the innovation, and Pre Heli-Skiing, offered in Banff by Vertical Unlimited Ski Hosts is no exception. Last season, CMH veteran Kimbi Farrelly took a British family skiing near Banff before their maiden Heli-Skiing voyage in the Bugaboos. To start with, they didn’t really know which lodge they were going to. Kimbi said, “It was all neatly written up for them on their correspondence, but they obviously did not have the time or desire to read it.”

what to do before heli skiing

Personally, I like that British family’s approach - just sign up for the dream ski trip with CMH Heli-Skiing and get on with it. Why bother with the details, eh? But the family gave Kimbi the idea to start a program to help people get ready for their CMH Heli-Skiing trip. We all know CMH will take fantastic care of you on your dream trip, and teach you what you need to know while you’re out there, but Kimbi had discovered a valuable addition to the CMH Heli-Skiing program.

While skiing with the British family around the Banff ski areas, Kimbi found herself teaching them many of the things that would help them get the most out of their ski holiday:

  • She explained the kind of terrain they would end up skiing in the Bugaboos, and how the heli-skiing program works in the various terrain.
  • She went over the techniques for tree skiing, like the buddy system and leap frogging.
  • She showed them how to find a lost ski in the deep powder.
  • She showed them how to put on skis in difficult terrain and deep snow.
  • She coached them on how to approach difficult terrain.
  • She taught them how to get up after falling in deep powder.
  • She gave them pointers for how to conserve energy throughout the day and week.
  • She emphasized the importance of listening to the guide’s instructions.
  • She explained how to dress for a day of heli-skiing in various temperatures and conditions.
  • She showed them how to bundle their skis and poles together for the helicopter.

By the end of the day, Kimbi had designed the beginnings of an entirely new ski program.

After 12 years of working for CMH as a ski shop manager, in almost every CMH area, and accumulating over 8 million vertical feet of heli-fun, Kimbi knows what will help CMH guests get the most out of the vacation.

“Not only is this great for first timers,” she explains, “but it is also an add on for the returning guests that want to bring their families, or for groups of friends who want to get their ski legs underneath them; a lot of heli-skiers don’t have the time to prepare before their vacation and this is a great way to get the ski legs moving again.”

There are also some benefits that even the experienced CMH powder hounds would appreciate. Kimbi provides private shuttles from your hotel, and will take you on a tour of Banff’s “hidden stashes and secret spots that all the locals ski!” (Sign me up for that part alone...)

ski host banff

Besides Kimbi’s substantial fun hog credentials, she is also a certified Nordic and Alpine ski instructor. Everything Kimbi teaches will be explained by CMH guides as well, and repeated whenever needed, but joining Kimbi for a warm-up allows you to spend more of your concentration and ski energy simply enjoying the world’s greatest skiing.

For more information about Pre Heli-Skiing, visit Vertical Unlimited Ski Hosts or call CMH Heli-Skiing reservations at 1 (800) 661-0252.

CMH Freeriding - Dreamtime or Reality?


Yesterday, I received a note from Mike Aucoin, a mountain guide from CMH Revelstoke and co-host of the latest CMH Powder U Program, Powder 405: Freeride Camp based in the legendary powder epicentre of Revelstoke, BC.

First, he asked the obvious question: "How can I best characterize Freeride as a ‘new’ concept in Heli-Skiing and why now?"

freeride revelstoke

Then he answered his own question, brilliantly putting to words the intangible magic the new crop of rockered skis from our friends at K2, a Bell 212 Helicopter, the snowiest mountains in Canada, a team of experienced mountain guides, and the desire to ride the mountain like we ride in our dreams - CMH Heli-Freeriding: 

"Helicopter skiing has always had a uniquely ‘free’ component to it because of the swift access to an unbelievable selection of deeply snow-covered mountains. Then there’s the unparalleled feeling you get looking back at your signature in the powder after an exhilarating and awe-inspiring run. For me, the most relevant motivation to promote CMH freeriding began with the occasional skier or boarder in the group who would ask, 'Can we do some freeriding today?'

"This simple request always made me smile, and every time someone asks for freeriding, I understand the root of the question.  The comment would often come from someone relatively new to heli-skiing, an individual who may have been experiencing this feeling of freedom on skis for the first time, away from the lifts of a resort, far from a line of people waiting for one part of their local mountain to open up after a snowfall. This is the time and place to demonstrate what you’ve envisioned for so long.

"It only makes sense since ‘Freeriding’ has become an established part of the skiers’ and boarders’ vocabulary. It’s how you see a feature on the mountain and imagine just how you would soar through it. For one skier it could mean laying out a deep carve in a long untracked field, while others see themselves riding up on a rib or shoulder and slashing a big plume of powder in the air before accelerating down the next steep roll. It could mean picking your way through a narrow gully to ride a unique part of the mountain, or just letting those dogs run on a remote mountainside.

"I have always looked at these mountains through those eyes. Constantly evaluating how fun it would be to ride a particular feature on the mountain in my own fashion. Until recent changes have surfaced in ski design and technique, the reality rarely mirrored the vision. Today, many strong skiers can now enjoy the sensation of expanding the arc of the turn in powder like never before, and still dump speed with a quick brake check while flying through knee deep powder. The concept of a specific ‘freeride Heli-Skiing’ trip is to provide the opportunity to those who want to feel the mountain in a new way and truly express their will on the hill.

"Your guides have spent years working in these mountains and recognize when it is appropriate to access the terrain that is suitable for this kind of skiing. While skiing, we will discuss hazards specific to particular features while evaluating changes in snow quality and stability. As in everything we do, safety is our chief concern. We have two guides dedicated to the group each day to allow flexibility in the group. Not only will the guide provide the terrain decision and safety management, but they will also provide instruction and video analysis - and of course large doses of fun skiing in big mountains.

"If you are a strong skier who knows what rocker is, come ride with us and we’ll show you why rocker is.  It’s sure to be a blast."

freeride canada

CMH Freeriding in Revelstoke? Can't think of anything better in the galaxy? Think you've already done it? Never been Heli-Skiing but this is what you've been waiting for? For questions about the new CMH Freeride Camp taking place March 23-28, 2013, contact CMH reservations at 1.800.661.0252.

Four foot powder dump in the Bugaboos already!


First of all, I’ll start with an apology.  This is a bit like reporting on a great vintage a year early, before even a single person gets to pop a cork.  So I’m sorry to do this to you. Believe me, I'm suffering for it too.

But the snow at CMH Bugaboos is already incredible.  Dave Cochrane, the CMH Bugaboo Lodge area manager is always keen to share what he sees out there and this is what he sent in yesterday:

“We were out today hiking in Septet Creek, that is where you find the ski runs Groovy West, Groovy East and Groovy Ass.

The landings are at 2550m and we picked up at 2130m. We found snow up to 130-140 cm. (That’s four feet deep!) below the ridge line and at the pickup an honest 50cm of fairly well settled snow and an average on the run of 80-120 cm.

The snow cover on those runs is really good and settled enough it would make for really great skiing. I definitely could run a ski program at the moment in the Groovy area.”

The day before yesterday, the Bugaboos team sent in these photos. 

bugaboos early snow

Last summer I was talking to one of the CMH ski guides and I asked him if he’d noticed any big changes in the skiing conditions in recent years.  With the huge drought last season in the States, I was wondering what might be happening to our beloved snow. 

He replied, “Compared to historical records, our snowfall in recent years is spot on.”

Last season's snowfall in the Revelstoke region, where all the CMH Heli-Ski areas are located, would certainly support this. Excellent skiing all winter. The 2010-2011 season in the Revelstoke region? Excellent skiing all winter. The 2009-2010 winter in the Revelstoke region? Great early season skiing, spotty in places during high season, and great late season skiing. It's not called the world's greatest skiing because of the region's grooming capability...

I also spoke with Dave Cochrane last summer. In fact, I was poking a bit of fun at him because  he’s a huge fan of corn skiing and I knew it had dumped all spring in the Columbia Mountains leaving little time for the sunshine to form the velvety springtime corn snow.

I asked, “Dave, did you miss corn skiing last year?”

His reply: “Nope. The spring powder skiing has been so good the last few years that I haven’t really missed corn skiing at all. In the spring it’s just kept dumping and we’ve been skiing powder right up to the end of the season.”

So much for making a ski guide miss corn snow.

The big question is: what does all this mean for this year?

western Canada early winter

Dave concluded his letter to the CMH Heli-Skiing office in Banff: “So,,,,it’s only the third week in October and anything can happen but it is looking very promising so far.”

My read? It dumped four feet in the Bugs and Dave wants to go skiing.

The effect his report has on me? It dumped four feet in the Bugs and now I want to go skiing too.

Looking at the photos I can’t help but see the snow being whirled into the sky from the rotor wash, the rippled ridges of deep powder already taking on the seductive lines of winter drifts.  I can’t help but daydream of the feel of snowflakes on my face, the giddy roller coaster-feel of arcing through bottomless powder, and the winter vistas changing with every breath.

Dave, do us all a favor and stop sending in these brutal reports - it isn’t ski season yet!

Or is it?

Freedom and adrenaline: the girls ride the Bugaboos


Bugaboos snowgirlsPhotographer and writer Andrea Johnson got to live her dreams in the Bugaboos last winter.  Here's what she had to say about the realization:

I’ve dreamt of the complete freedom and incomparable adrenalin rush of helicopter skiing & snowboarding for the past twenty years.  My expectations were high, yet these visions were exceeded by my CMH Heli-Skiing experience in the most surprising ways.

I learned to ski at the age of 9 from my grandfather, Andy Hennig, who was an Austrian Ski instructor at Sun Valley, Idaho until the age of 77. He was a legend in his own right teaching the Hemingway family and countless celebrities while working with Warren Miller in the early days of the adventure ski films. This lifestyle made an unforgettable impression, so in my mid 20’s I took a job at a snowboard company, hired photographers for marketing campaigns, and watched endless ski and snowboard films to fuel the fire.

Fast forward 15 years and my dream had nearly slipped away.  I used the same excuses of lacking time, money, and fitness that most of us justify in delaying such adventures. Additionally last summer I lost my snowboarding partner of 15 years, Dale Johnson, who died in a tragic accident before he had the chance to heli snowboard – #1 on his bucket list. As life teaches us through unexpected circumstances, I found my dream reignited through the inspiration of Fred Noble.

Fred has heli-skied over 7 million vertical feet with CMH as their North American Agent, choosing to use his commissions in trade for heli-ski time during the past 38 years. This trip was his most challenging yet – 18 months ago Fred was diagnosed with ALS and he has lost all mobility in his legs. He was determined to celebrate his 75th birthday at the Bugaboos with the first descent on a sit ski, and I was there to help capture the event for a documentary film on his life (see next blog entry for this story). The experience was bittersweet, his unquenchable spirit contagious, and by watching Fred overcome obstacles of this magnitude I realized my excuses were miniscule in comparison.

Bugaboos skiing resized 600

In reality all of my concerns vanished the minute the helicopter dropped us off besides the magnificent Bugaboo Spires. CMH invented heli-skiing at the Bugaboos over 45 years ago and they’ve perfected the experience. The first day our group of 10 women, one man, and two guides had countless fresh tracks on a perfect bluebird day offering unlimited access to the high alpine glaciers.

On the second afternoon when many guests opted for a rest I had the chance to join a group of guides, staff, and several skiers with over a million vertical feet at CMH. At first I was intimidated, but soon found that my level of riding rose to the occasion. Cannon Barrel run was in perfect condition to rip with unrestrained speed: In a few minutes our group traveled over 2,000 vertical feet, stopping only once for a brief rest. I can still hear the hoots and hollers of my fellow skiers, tele-markers, and riders – we made three epic runs that are seared in my mind as my most unforgettable riding experience.

My fellow skiers were fun and relaxed, and our camaraderie was always high. Though we had both expert and virgin heli-skiers, we were a very compatible and tight knit group. I enjoyed not having to fight for my turn to go first and the shouts of encouragement as everyone continued to gain confidence and improve. As a tomboy, I’ve been accustomed to fighting alpha males for position in adventure sports. I had honestly never considered the fact that I could have more fun joining a group of women who would push my limits – but in a joyful, non-competitive way.

bugaboo girls

Mid week a series of storms dumped 1-2 feet of fresh snow each day. These conditions were ideal for extensive tree runs with the lightest deepest powder I’ve ever encountered. One morning I rode with the chef, another snowboarder, enjoying the long easy lines through the trees. Each of us paired up with a buddy and made our own unique call to each other as we traveled; I can still hear the yodel of Seth, our Austrian guide, echoing through the forest.

Everything at CMH is world class, and after a long day on the mountain nothing beats a soak in the hot tub. This was my daily ritual, and on the days when my body gave out I indulged in a 45-minute deep tissue massage expertly applied to the areas most in need of recovery.

Bugaboos hot tub resized 600

It’s tradition on the last evening of the week to dress up in costume, share stories and skits from the most entertaining parts of the trip, and join a dance party after dinner. My only regret from my experience was not conditioning better in advance – next time I’ll be prepared for the endless activity!

This trip broke nearly every stereotype and concern I had of heli-skiing. Groups ranged in age from 30 to 75 years old and from expert to first time heli-skiers of varying fitness levels and expertise. Over half our group were women, and though I was the lone snowboarder much of the time, the guides were careful to take me on alternative routes to avoid flats or let the group break the trail when traverses were unavoidable. The one thing we all shared was an unquenchable thirst for skiing or snowboarding; sharing the week with like-minded, passionate adventurers is an incredible experience I’m now addicted to relive as often as possible.

Photos and story by Andrea Johnson.

Is the future heliski helicopter being designed now?


Since the early 70s, the reliable twin-engine Bell 212 has been the steadfast workhorse of CMH Heli-Skiing. The smaller but powerful and fast Bell 407 is used for private heli-skiing and small group heli-skiing, and the lighter and efficient Bell 206 “Long Ranger” is used as a support helicopter alongside the 212 for our Signature Heliskiing programs.

With the same helicopter designs powering skiers for over 40 years, a common question our guests ask our skilled team of pilots from Alpine Helicopters, is “Are there new helicopter designs in the works that would be good for heliskiing?”

heliski helicopter types

The pilots all seem to give a similar answer - so far, there isn’t a good replacement, especially for the Bell 212. The combination of the reliability, lifting capacity, and suitability for mountain flying make the 212 an ideal machine for most of CMH Heli-skiing’s regular operations.

Then, the other day I came across a BBC article about new designs for a helicopter that included the Large Civil Tilt Rotor (LCTR). The LCTR looks more like an airplane than a helicopter, but the oversized propellers rotate, allowing the aircraft to take off and land like a helicopter, but then rotate to fly like a propeller plane once airborne. The LCTR would fly much faster than a traditional helicopter, hitting 300 knots cruising speed.

Another design by Sikorsky called the X2 has a more traditional helicopter-like shape, but can hit speeds of 250 knots and is a more suitable size for heliskiing than the LCTR. The X2 uses two main rotors that spin in opposite directions, and a tail rotor that points backwards. The design allows much faster speeds by eliminating a helicopter specific flight phenomenon called “retreating blade stall” where the rotor moving forward is traveling faster than the rotor on the other side of the aircraft that is traveling backwards.   

Retreating blade stall creates a situation where the two rotors do not provide the same lift.  This is not a problem at slow speeds, as the rotors are designed to shift with each rotation, tilting at a slightly different angle when the blade is moving forward than it is when moving backward. At higher speeds, beyond about 200 knots, these changes of rotor angle are not adequate to compensate for the difference in lift by either rotor. 

The X2 allows for not only greater speeds, but also a quieter ride and better fuel efficiency.  However, before all you footage-fiends out there, who love nothing more than a 15,000+ metre day of heli-skiing, go jump on your Stairmasters to get ready for even bigger, epic-er days with faster helicopters, there’s a catch. 

I tracked down Matt Conant, the legendary Galena pilot and rippin’ skier, and asked him what he thought of these new designs.  Here’s what he had to say:

“Perhaps your blog should start,  ‘No school like the old school.’ There are very few aircraft new or old that can effectively replace the Bell 212. Most new helicopters are geared toward the corporate or air ambulance market. As a heliski pilot I have no use for a aircraft that will cruise at 250 knots. I spent most of my flying day climbing at 60 knots. Although a more efficient, equally safe and more environmentally friendly way of ‘getting to the top’ would be welcome, For now we're happily stuck with the ‘old school.’
Cheers, Matt”

Photos of Matt's Bell 212 on the left, and the Bell 206 support helicopter on the right, at CMH Galena during an epic storm cycle by Topher Donahue.

Dreamtime - 5 photos for wintersick snow riders


It must be summertime.  I dreamt of skiing last night, which for some reason doesn't happen in the winter. A couple of days ago my daughter asked me when we could go skiing again. My wife came into my office this morning while I was looking through winter photos from Revelstoke. She stopped and stared.  Then said wistfully, “I’m already sick of summer.”

It's clear that I'm not the only one beginning to dream about frosty mornings, cold face shots, blinding white alpine vistas, and the exhilarating rush of downhill speed in deep snow. 

So I went through my collection and put together these 5 dream-like ski photos to help us all through the longest days of the year. 

Just a cool December lift ride, like here at the Sunshine ski resort near Banff, at minus 30C sounds refreshing right now:

ski dreams

But full-body powder immersion like this snowboarder at CMH Galena sounds even better:

snowboard dreams

Here’s the shot that sent my wife into fits of wintersickness, a lone ski track in the Revelstoke high country:

revelstoke ski dreams

Dreamtime in the Bugaboos - where heliskiing began:

heliski dreams

And finally, a dreamscape at CMH Monashees, one of several CMH areas known worldwide for the most exciting tree skiing on the planet:

tree skiing dreams

If these photos are too painful to look at right now, my apologies. If these photos get you inspired for a bike ride to keep the legs in shape, or to plan a ski trip, you’re welcome.

Photos by Topher Donahue.

The Best Ski Movie Ever!


Calling this a review isn’t quite right.  Perhaps a rave is a better word for it.

Dave Mossop and Eric Crossland, of The Sherpas Cinema, directed All.I.Can, a spellbinding work of art that defies categorization as merely a ski film.  It’s been called the most incredible ski movie ever produced, and based purely on the pile of awards the film has received, it just might be.

While All.I.Can includes a plethora of mind-bending ski sequences, including futuristic footage of Kai Peterson catastrophically botching (as well as impossibly sticking) new-school tricks in the midst of horrifying alpine faces, the heart of the film is a powerful discussion on the environment. 

When a heli-skiing sequence ends with one skier joking around with a gas pump, pretending to shove it in another’s eye, I went from being a spectator to being a fan; we all have impact, so it’s what we do about it that matters.

Slow-motion, time-lapse and digital animation created with high-end technology are all used heavily, but tastefully, to give a strong sense of the passing of time and to illustrate change in the natural world.  The film also unflinchingly delves into the relationships between international travel, mechanized skiing, and environmental impact.  It takes the new approach that environmentalism isn’t about being against things - instead it is about changing our perspective on our relationship to the environment, and then changing how we live accordingly. 

The modern free-skiing visionary, JP Auclair, (whose street skiing segment in the film was viewed 124,000 times on its first day online) summed it up nicely: “People are always saying ‘do less of this, do less of that’ but I don’t think it’s about doing less of anything - it’s about doing more...”

The film’s example of large-scale environmental balancing in the ski industry is the Whistler-Blackcomb ski area installing a micro-hydro plant in one of the mountain’s creeks that offsets the entire energy usage of the ski area. 

Having just posted a blog about the CMH Galena micro-hydro reaching financial payoff and saving a thousand tonnes of CO2 emissions after seven years of operation, I realized the visionary drivers of the ski industry are all coming to a similar conclusion - we can’t run ski lifts of any sort without burning energy, so let’s do more, lots more, to balance our impacts with contributions.

skier environment solar

Several skiers interviewed in the film discussed the unique place skiers and mountaineers have in the environmental project:

One said, “Skier’s connection with nature and the mountains is incredible, and it puts us at the forefront of what is going on with the environment.”

And another pointed out, “You have a constituency on the hill who, by virtue of what they do, every one of them is an environmentalist.”

It’s not just the cinematography that speaks to the passing of time and the acceleration of change.  The youngest skier in the film is about three years old, the oldest, 75.  “We used to have more snow” said one of the older skiers. 

Even the topic of ski technology is brought back to the philosophy of embracing change. One skier mentions how, with the drastic changes in the shape of skis, “the average skier now is not fearing change, they’re expecting change, and that’s pretty cool.”

As the credits rolled, I sat back and wondered if I had anything negative to say about the film.  One thing came to mind: we are just learning how to talk about these things,  and it seems that All.I.Can is like the first few awkward - albeit beautiful, scary and inspiring - words in a difficult conversation about our world and its immediate future. 

Partway through the credits, the film’s carbon footprint is shown, including what they’ve done to offset 100% of the making the film. 

It made me realize just how visionary CMH Heli-Skiing’s sustainability report was when first published eight years ago in 2004, by neither pretending to be low impact, nor hiding its metaphorical head in the sands of progress - and instead being clear about environmental impact, initiatives, and the balance of providing carefully considered access to the world’s greatest skiing.

Photo of this blog writer/skier's house being equipped with solar power in Colorado - just one of many skier's houses powered by solar in the area.  I talked with a CMH million-footer who was putting geothermal heating into his home to help offset his impact. 

What are you doing to offset yours?

Spring Heli-Skiing. Sort of...


The first day of spring rolled around this week, and if you were stuck at a CMH lodge without a calendar, you would have no idea!

Here are a couple of awesome pictures from right around the official "change of seasons" - But they might as well be from mid-January!


Allan from the Monashees is really enjoying guiding this spring:

Monashees Guiding


Sure, this picture has some sun... But the snow is still mid-January like:

Mcbride Spring


The K2 Demo Days were a little earlier in March at CMH Kootenay- This was the begining of the snowy spring:

K2 Demo Weeks


The Bobbie Burns is "sinking" that this spring snow is deep!:

Bobbie Burns Powder


At Mcbride, you can get private spring heli-skiing. Because there isn't enough snow to share... Yeah right!:

Mcbride Deep Powder

Spring means longer days, more vertical, and LOTS of snow! Come and get it!

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.

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