by Roko Koell, Director of Powder Performance at CMH Heli-Skiing
This is the one million dollar question every serious skier faces when playing with the idea of going Heli-Skiing for the first time.
I cannot answer this question completely as I don't know your skiing level, your fitness or your skiing mind. But I would say...
- You should be a confident skier on blue runs in any ski-resort and venture into some black diamond runs without too much hesitation. You don't need to master all black runs with finesse and total confidence, but you should make it down, slowly and steadily.
- Skiing 7 to 20 days a season as a confident intermediate skier is a good average. If you have not skied in years, but were a good skier in the past, you should go resort skiing before you plan to come Heli-Skiing. Taking a few private lessons with a ski instructor will benefit you greatly for your trip.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not need experience in off-piste or powder conditions to come heli-skiing for your first time.. The truth is, it is almost impossible to learn powder skiing in a ski resort, as the days of powder are few and the powder is immediately chopped and skied out. Powder skiing you learn best in powder. At CMH Heli-Skiing we offer Powder Introduction weeks, where you have virgin snow most every run all week long and two guides/powder coaches to help you become a solid enthusiastic powder skier.
If you do not have a great deal of powder skiing experience, bear in mind that when learning to ski powder, mastering equal weighting of your skis is the most critical point. Overall, powder skiing is very much like hard-pack skiing. The difference being that the skis don't run on a solid, hard platform, but within a soft mass of snow. That requires subtle changes in skiing movements, like equal weighting of both skis and more patience when turning.
I ski with groups of skiers who are 80+ years old. They cannot ski on icy runs at ski resorts, but they do great in powder. These skiers have mastered the ability to maintain equal weighting of their skis. Once you master that, powder skiing becomes easy and a dream in white.
In powder you ski more in the fall line then on hard pack, linking turns continuously together which promotes rhythm and helps control your skiing speed. On hard pack you naturally ski more mid- to long- radius turns with the downhill ski more weighted then the uphill ski. That is programmed into your skiing movements and muscle memory. It is your comfort zone and you can ski like that without thinking. If you venture off piste and ski that same way powder, you face a brick wall and frustrating time. All the magic of your skiing turns into misery and you feel like a beginner skier. Your confidence is shattered and you throw the idea of Heli Skiing away, you do not give yourself the credit of being a strong immediate skier anymore. This is what propegates the myth that powder skiing is reserved for expert skiers!!
So, if you can honestly answer points 1 & 2 above, I encourage you to join me next winter on a CMH Heli-Skiing Powder Introduction. On the other hand, if you have loads of experience skiing in powder and off-piste there are a number of different heli-ski trips that CMH offers to suit your tastes.
To learn more, contact a Heli-Ski Expert today at 1.800.661.0252 or if you're ready to book, download the 2012 Dates & Prices here. Book by April 30 and receive a $100 credit per day!