“The opportunity to be truly together as a family during a holiday without the distractions of obligations, friends, cell phones, laptops, television and play stations.”
It is hard to imagine a better family experience than a family heliskiing vacation; however, unless you’ve done it, it is hard to imagine what heliskiing with your family would be like in the first place. To find out, I tracked down Matt Autterson, a skier who took his family to the Bugaboos for a CMH Family Heliskiing Vacation last season. He shared some great insights - and great pictures from the week - and is planning to return with the whole family for more heliskiing fun this season.
TD: Can you tell me a bit about your family and their skiing?
MA: We ski with a family of eight. The first year the children were ages 10(2), 12, 14, 16, 18. My wife is 44 and I’m 53. All of the children have ski racing backgrounds, were well-conditioned and ski Vail 30-40 times per year including cat skiing.
TD: What were the highlights of the trip for you and your kids?
MA: The opportunity to be truly together as a family during a holiday without the distractions of obligations, friends, cell phones, laptops, television and play stations. Borrowing a pine tree from the hallway, which we decorated on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, skiing started an hour later to let us enjoy a relaxed Christmas morning together with just the family.
TD: What was the most surprising part for you and your kids?
MA: How well orchestrated the entire trip was - almost choreographed. Every one of the staff made us feel like family (not in-laws!). One of the children’s favorite memories was skiing with the chef, who wore his chef hat while skiing.
TD: How would you describe the fun factor of the trip?
MA: The entire family would rather spend Christmas with CMH than at our home in Vail. Over the holidays in Vail, we have endless lift lines and hike for 30-60 minutes to find good snow. The smiles on the faces of the children after every run confirmed that CMH was the right holiday decision.
TD: What does CMH do to make heliskiing work with kids?
MA: During CMH family weeks, they provide each group with an extra guide to help out with equipment issues, falls and navigation. On many nights, dinners included the children’s favorite food - the chef would ask the kids in advance what they would like him to make for them. The lodge has a designated person to organize after-ski activities for the kids of all ages.
TD: Do you have any advice for parents considering such a trip?
MA: Conditioning is big. We work out as a family for 8-12 weeks on cardio to prepare ourselves for full days of skiing. Buy the right clothing for the children make sure they have worn their boots before the trip. Of course, the guides offer many opportunities for tired kids (and tired parents) to return to the lodge.
TD: Were there some great moments with your kids that you’d like to share?
MA: Sitting shotgun in the helicopter on the ride back to the lodge, hockey night on the pond outside the Bugaboos Lodge, playing ping pong against the guides, meeting families from around the world – being together as a family is a remarkably rare experience and maybe one of the most important aspects of the trip with CMH .
TD: Anything you’d like to add?
MA: The staff, without exception, truly wants to be doing what they are doing – it is a passion that shows in everything they do.
A note on skiing ability: The Auttersons are all exceptional skiers. Many families, most of who ski much less than the Auttersons, join CMH for family heliski weeks and have a great time. If you're wondering if your family is ready for it, please call CMH Reservations to speak with a knowledgable agent who will consider your exact family situation and skiing abilities.