Skiing Magazine published an article recently, called “Trouble in Paradise”, in which the author gets a free trip with a small, new heliski company, and in return spreads a few myths about the big, established heliski companies - especially CMH Heli-Skiing. Among other things, the article provides a perfect template for clearing up a few misconceptions about heliskiing with CMH. Here are a few quotes from the brown-nosing article, and a glimpse of what really happens while heliskiing and snowboarding at CMH.
“Unlike traditional heli trips, where tame terrain is the rule, ours had a guide who charged steep tree shots at a speed well beyond the normal commercial limit.”
We’re unaware of any commercial speed limit, and every CMH ski guide I've ever skied with descends each given line at the speed that is best for the conditions and terrain at hand. It is often safest for a guide to ski the line quickly and wait for his or her group at a place where they are visible and out of any potential avalanche zone.
The only rule we have for terrain is to avoid slopes that could avalanche on us. Ski with CMH during poor snow stability, and we’ll ski a lot of really fun, safe and “tame” terrain. Show up when the stability is good and we’ll safely blow your mind. Do you think “Hanging Gardens” in CMH Galena got the name for being tame?
“Heli-skiing was synonymous with sushi buffets, tight turns, and massive tenures in the BC Interior.”
The author got part of this one right – CMH has massive tenures in the BC Interior, and the occasional sushi buffet, but the diameter of your turn is your choice. Some groups like to lay down a symmetrical pattern of tight turns, while others prefer big GS arcs, and still others prefer to let each individual skier do their own thing within the limitations of the mountain conditions on a given day.
I’m not sure what the author finds so unappealing about massive tenures in the BC Interior – the snowiest weather station in Canada is on Mt. Fidelity near Revelstoke, where 12 metres, or 40 feet, of snow fall annually. With 11 big CMH heliski playgrounds in this region, our skiers seem pretty happy with massive tenures in the BC Interior. We’d even venture so far as to guess this is part of the reason 70% of our guests have skied with us before – and ski with us again and again and again.
“The new operators recognized these customers’ needs and began offering smaller groups and more aggressive line selection.”
The smallest group we ever ski with at CMH is one guide and one guest. It doesn’t really get any smaller than that, unless we let a single skier go it alone – which we don’t. Our biggest group is 11 skiers supported by a Bell 212 helicopter. Our Small Group Heliskiing Trips use the Bell 407 helicopter to support groups of five skiers.
As far as line selection, that’s a factor of conditions and landing options for the helicopter, not the size of the business. With groups of strong riders in stable conditions, CMH goes as steep and big as any commercial ski guide service on the planet. We even offer Steep Weeks in the springtime for aggressive skiers and snowboarders who want to take the extra time to access and rip the steepest lines one rider at a time.
The author concludes the article by poking fun at “German tourists” and suggesting steep terrain is not for them. The author obviously didn’t do his research here either - some of the best skiers I’ve encountered while skiing in Canada, the US, and Europe are Germans.
CMH guests include skiers and snowboarders from all over the world, former Olympians, freeride superstars, young jibbers who go inverted every chance they get, old-timers hoping to milk one more season out of their knees, and thousands of everyday people who come to the oldest, most experienced, biggest and best heli-ski company in the world for these very reasons.
Photo taken by Topher Donahue at CMH Adamants, without speed limits or turn radius rules, just before the sushi buffet.