by Becca Blay
What is more intimidating than getting on a chairlift with a group of male skiers?
How about getting in a helicopter with a group of male skiers? When I arrived at Valemount Lodge, I had no idea what to expect. From first time heli-skier and a woman’s perspective, here are five helpful tips that I would like to share with you to prepare you for your trip.
I learned very quickly, that there is a huge difference between skiing in a resort on groomers and entering into the backcountry in deep powder, surrounded by pure, untamed wilderness via a helicopter. On top of being out of my comfort zone, I was with a group of 6 male “million footers,” which in Heli-skiing world, means you’re a veteran. Myself, and three of my girlfriends were entering uncharted territory, and an adventure that I will never forget.
How quickly you forget about the small stuff after the first run. The little things that seemed to cause me so much anxiety were gone. The experience was nothing like I had expected. Heli-skiing is so much bigger than anything that I had ever imagined. That said, it is not an environment that breeds competition, so it didn’t matter what gender I was. In fact, the bond that it creates is one that will last a life-time between you and those that share the experience with you.
So, from my perspective, being a woman heli-skier was nothing but positive and amazing. I will, however, share some helpful secrets that I learned along the way:
- Safety first. Ask as many questions as you need to and always designate a partner to ski with. Stay with your partner.
- Peeing in the woods. The best way to “use the ladies room” while heli-skiing is to keep your skis on, and sit back using the support of the back of your boots to keep you up. This might be hard on your knees, if so, wrap your arms around your knees for support.
- Layer. It’s simple, on the top, sports bra, thin Icebreaker base layer, lightweight Arc'teryx fleece, Arcteryx shell. Bottoms, knee high socks, Icebreaker long underwear and Arc'teryx shell pants.
- Make sure to tie your hair back so that it is out of the way. Braids and ponytails are great. Trust me; nobody cares about how you look out there.
- Make sure that you have a hood on your jacket. The snow that blows around you as the helicopter lifts offs and touches down can be a bit blustery and you want to be able to stay warm in the heli-huddle.
What about you? Do you have a few tips to share?