Heli-assisted Ski Touring: The New Frontier?
Last week I pointed my camera at the CMH Adamants during a CMH Heli-Assisted Ski Touring week for an article that will appear in Skiing Magazine next fall. It is truly painful not to be able to share the photos with you right now – Skiing gets first choice – but the trip opened my eyes to a kind skiing that few people have ever seen, and may be a glimpse into the future of skiing.
When Hans Gmoser and Leo Grillmair invented heliskiing almost half a century ago, they had no idea just how captivating the sport of heliskiing would become. There was a similar sentiment in the air in the Adamants last week.
I overheard one experienced heliskiing guest say something that reveals that the new Heli-assisted Ski Touring program is more powerful than even the guides who envisioned it in the first place could have imagined:
“I’m never going heliskiing again. Just heli-ski touring.”
I don’t think CMH meant to turn heli-skiers into ski tourers when they created the Heli-assisted Ski Touring program three years ago, but they can’t stop now - the guests like it too much, and some skiers have come back to tour each of the last three seasons.
One ski guide said on the last day, “That was the best day of skiing all year!”
Another guide said, “ I guided 16 weeks this year, in some of the most epic powder, and this is definitely one of the best.”
It’s not hard to see why the program is exploding in popularity. Just imagine a day like this:
- 7:15 – Skiing specific stretch class.
- 8:00 – Deluxe buffet breakfast (think fruit bowls, eggs benedict, and espresso)
- 9:05 – Step into the skis for a casual, photo-friendly lap down the best downhill run the ski guides can find (think 1300 meters of whipped cream).
- 10:00 – Put on your skins and find the perfect aerobic output (not too hard and not too easy) while touring through old growth forests, along the edge of deep-blue glaciers and up serpentine ridges.
- 11:30 – Buckle your skis on your pack to bootpack the final few metres onto a rime-frosted summit (makes you feel like you’re starring in your own ski film).
- 12:00 – Eat lunch on the summit overlooking the kind of view only Everest summiteers and parachutists ever see (maybe don’t walk to the edge to pee).
- 12:45 – Lock your skis into downhill mode (without accidentally kicking one over the edge) and rip turns right off the summit.
- Repeat until you are ready for a 4-course gourmet meal CMH style and catch a lift back to the hot tub, sauna, massage therapist, and bar with a view of Mt. Downie, the Matterhorn of the Columbias.
Heli-assisted Ski-Touring with CMH feels a bit surreal, much like the first heliskiers must have felt as everyone on the team realized the potential of the program. I don’t know if CMH realized just how much appeal there would be in cherry-picking the ideal conditions and sweetest lines in the heli-ski capital of the world with local heliski guides - at a price that is affordable for the average skier.
Heli-assisted Ski Touring may be the best value in skiing right now, but for heli-skiers looking to save up to $700 on a regular heliskiing trip, book next year’s trip before our Early Booking Incentive expires on April 30!