Well, my 8 month co-op term has now been over for 2 months. I must say, taking 8 months off from school to work for CMH was definitely one of the best experiences of my life. As you can imagine, the transition back to school after working for the world’s largest heli-ski company hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world.
One of the hardest parts of the transition is explaining to people where I have been for the last 8 months… Half the people seem to think that I have graduated, which is fine, as long as I get the chance to explain to them where I was. I am however slightly concerned that the people who don’t confront me might think that I am one of those people who refuse to give up the university dream and continue to hang out around campus.
The second part of being gone for 8 months has made me realize how many people have no idea what the heck CMH is, or even what Heli-Skiing or Heli-Hiking are… Generally, when people ask me where I did my co-op work term, I will just say CMH, as this is substantially easier than saying Canadian Mountain Holidays Heli-skiing and Summer Adventures. However, I have found that simply using CMH can lead to much confusion. Most frequently, I find myself explaining that CMH does not stand for Canadian Mountain heli-skiing or heli-hiking, which is what half of the people who “think” they know what CMH is think it stands for. I know that does make sense… but it is simply not what it stands for. After all, we are much more than just mountain heli-skiing, a trip with CMH truly is a mountain holiday.
So, after I have explained that I worked for CMH there is a general understanding of where I was working. Now as to what CMH actually does is a completely different story. Those who ski, or hike, or understand the mountains in general seem to have a general understanding of what happens at CMH. Those who do not tend to go back to the traditional myths about heli-skiing and hiking. I can’t count how many times I have had to tell people that I have never jumped out of a hovering or moving helicopter, been forced to jump off of a cliff, or felt unsafe out in the mountains. There is also a common misperception that because I work for CMH, I automatically heli-ski every day. Having to explain to people that the guides are the only people who get to ski every day, and they require more training and learning than is required in the degree that we are at university to get that privilege, is something I wasn’t anticipating.
I must say, the most common misperception of CMH that I have encountered upon return to school is what the activity of heli-hiking entails. Many of my friends seem to think that it is essentially heli-skiing sans-snow. This explanation of heli-hiking is usually immediately followed by how they think that it sounds terrible and they wouldn’t ever want to go. The thought of getting dropped off the top of a mountain so that you can run down a couple thousand vertical feet to be picked up and flown to the top to do it again sounds like a terrible activity… I am not quite sure how this has become so skewed, but heli-hiking has provided me with some memories that certainly fuel many of my in class daydreams. Glacier hiking, waterfalls, mountain peaks, the Mt. Nimbus via ferrate, and so much more!
Hopefully the next 6 months of school will go by quickly and easily so that I can return to the mountains where I belong!