Rapt In Awe
by David Barry, CEO, CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures
“He who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, his eyes are closed” - Albert Einstein
After five weeks in the field Einstein’s quote seems to perfectly capture the natural beauty of the Columbia Mountain ranges and the CMH experience. In my many conversations with guests a common theme has come to light. As the first decade of the 21st century concludes, curiosity abounds about the future of skiing.
What will the next decade bring?
To quote Steve Martin…we live in “a wild and crazy” time. Everyday we become more and more capable of doing just about anything we want. And the more our options and capabilities increase, the more difficult it becomes to decide what is worth doing. Bigger skis, faster lifts, top-to-bottom terrain parks, clothes that breathe, gloves that heat, HD helmet cams, more comfortable boots, smart phones that follow you around the mountain – all of these are possible today. Seems to me the world of skiing will continue to evolve dramatically in the next ten years. Which of these inventions will make or break the future of skiing? Or is it something else altogether?
Skiing is, always has been, and always will be, an adventure in lifestyle. The experiences we have, the people we have them with and the memories we create - on the glaciers, in the trees, in the lodges, gathered around a bonfire at night, standing at the landing “rapt in awe” at the top of the world – these are the suns around which the universe of skiing revolves. And, as we head into the next decade, we are reminded once again that the more things change the more they stay the same.
They tell me that the universe is expanding. But to me it seems like it gets smaller everyday. The Hubble telescope beams back pictures from hundreds of million of light years away. Planes carry us swiftly to destinations it took our ancestors months to reach. E-mail arrives in Banff eight hours before it was sent from Paris. And, my friends and I play host to guests from around the world, all of whom we come to know better and better every day. Our “customers” stopped being customers long ago – they are guests, our guests. And, as with any guest, our opportunity to treat them to the experience they want is contingent on our knowledge of, and relationship with them. Authentic; honest, complete with warts and blemishes, rolled up with a passion for skiing and the mountains we love.
New technology and hard and soft goods improvements will all serve to enhance the skiing experience. We will all benefit from these developments.
More importantly though, at CMH we believe our success is tied to:
- Knowing and communicating with our guests on a personal level.
- Treating our guests to a personal, “backstage pass”, mountain experience.
- Creating and maintaining a familial, caring, “be there” staff.
- Operating soundly as a business while projecting, living and sharing a lifestyle.
- Understanding that our product is the experience and the memories it creates.
The future is staring us squarely in the eyes. Hopefully we will be willing to stand “rapt in awe”, to keep our eyes open, to keep our ears open, to listen to, learn from and communicate with our guests.
Skiing is a magical feeling; floating, weightless, blessed with speed and the benefit of gravity, we are flying with only a surface of untracked snow ahead of us, surrounded by beauty.
Skiing is not recreation, it is re-creation.
Photo: Bugaboo Spires by Andrew Wexler