Heli-Skiing Along the Powder Highway
In every skier's imagination there is a place on earth that is seemingly crafted for their art. Mountain range after mountain range of terrain screaming to be skied or ridden. Ski resorts in one valley, cat skiing in another and heliskiing in yet another. A place to feed your addiction winter, after winter, after winter.
Such a place does exist and you can find it in the interior ranges of British Columbia, Canada. Find the town of Revelstoke, BC on a map and move your finger (or your mouse) south all the way to the US border and across to the Alberta border. This, my friends, is the Powder Highway.
The interior of BC is like Mecca for skiers and that's why Heli-Skiing was invented right here along the Powder Highway: Mountains legendary for epic snowfall, trees perfectly spaced for skiing, air that is dense, cool and dry (a combination that makes helicopters and helicopter pilots, happy) and massive expanses of undeveloped, uninhabited land available for skiers and riders looking to rip it up. Not completely uninhabited, the Powder Highway is sprinkled with some charasmatic ski towns populated with friendly folk who share your passion for the powder.
While the best places are often difficult to get to, the Powder Highway is not completely in nowheresville. Major airports in Spokane, WA; Castlegar, Cranbrook, Kelowna and Kamloops, BC; Calgary, AB and others make the area easy to get to for a ski weekend, a ski week or an entire winter.
How do you like your powder? Along the Powder Highway you have plenty of options. Over 60 of them, in fact! You will find:
-8 Alpine Ski Resorts
-9 Heli-Ski Operators (some with multiple areas like CMH Heli-Skiing)
-10 Nordic Ski Resorts
-16 Catskiing Operators
-21 Backcountry lodges that cater to ski-tourers.
Enough to keep you busy for a few winters? Likely.
Apres-Ski? Oh yeah, you'll find that too. Skiers enjoying the alpine and nordic resorts and cat- and heli- operations based in-town can choose from lively bars and local pubs to ice-fishing, hotsprings, dogsledding or curling. No, there's no shortage of things to do on a day off from skiing or in the evenings. For those choosing backcountry options for heliskiing, cat-skiing or ski touring there is a special sort of magic to be found in these lodges that is hard to replicate in town.
In the words of Anne Pigeon from Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, BC, one of the Alpine Resort gems of the Powder Highway "For those that are new to the area, they are blown away when they see the concentration of ski operations in the area. It clearly shows where to go for snow - or we wouldn't all be here!"
So what are you waiting for? Take a ride on the Powder Highway this winter.
Photo: Skiing along the Powder Highway at CMH Revelstoke by Roger Laurilla. CMH has 6 heli-ski areas along the Powder Highway: Kootenay, Nomads, Galena, Revelstoke, Bobbie Burns and CMH Bugaboos (the birthplace of Heli-Skiing).