It is hard to get a sense for just how remote the CMH Heliskiing areas really are. Even when you fly into Calgary, Kelowna, or another nearby town, and then ride a bus and helicopter into one of the remote CMH lodges, it is hard to grasp the isolation of the ultimate ski and snowboard destination. One of the best ways to get a sense of the area is with the almost magical world of Google Earth.
There are few adventure travel destinations that are better suited to perusing with Google Earth than the vast wilderness playground that is CMH Heliskiing. To access the CMH Google Earth Database, follow these steps:
- Download Google Earth (If you’ve never used it, check it out. It is arguably the most amazing thing the internet has yet spawned.)
- Go to the Canadian Mountain Holidays website and click on the Multimedia tab. In the pull down menu, select Google Earth, or click here.
- On the CMH Google Earth page, there is a list of Heliskiing Google Earth maps. You can select one area, but selecting the "Overview of CMH Heliskiing Areas" gives you all of the other maps in one click and gives a better sense of scale than any of the individual areas alone.
Now, when you open Google Earth, you’ll see Canadian Mountain Holidays listed under your Places menu. If you click the menu arrow next to Canadian Mountain Holidays, you’ll see the drop down menu of all of the CMH areas.
To get an idea of why CMH operates what is by far the world’s biggest ski area, first don’t click on any of the areas, but instead double click on “Canadian Mountain Holidays”. Google Earth will zoom into a view showing all the CMH areas with McBride in the far north, and Kootenay in the far south. Next, slide the scale slider and zoom out until you can see the Pacific Ocean to the west. You’ll see that suddenly the CMH terrain takes on truly massive proportions.
The distance from the southern edge of the CMH tenures to the northernmost edge is over twice the distance from Seattle to Vancouver and slightly more than the entire north-south dimension of Washington state.
Now double click on a CMH area, the Adamants for example. Google Earth will zoom to fill your screen with the Adamants area map. You’ll see the map is highlighted greenish yellow.
To turn off the yellow colouring so you can see more detail of the area, click the arrow next to the Adamants, and in the short drop down menu, uncheck the box that says “Adamants Area Map”. From there you can zoom in and explore the Adamants terrain.
Unfortunately, the Google Earth photos are mostly summertime images, so it doesn’t look much like what skiers see in the winter. Also, from the default view, directly above, even the biggest mountains flatten out. By rotating the perspective, found above the scale slider in the Google Earth interface, you can view the mountains more as you would see them if you looked out the window of a helicopter or plane. This perspective suddenly reveals the long tree shots, wide open glacier runs, steep fall lines, massive vertical, and spectacular alpine scenery of CMH Heliskiing.
Any heliskiers out there who have a favourite Google Earth trick for viewing CMH terrain?