One summer day in the late 80s, the CMH Heli-Skiing office in Banff received a call explaining that a young mountain guide named Rob Rohn had been hit by an ice avalanche in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. With a fractured spine and a broken leg, Rob needed helicopter evacuation - but the Peruvian government would not initiate the rescue without $17,000 up front to cover the cost.
Marty Von Neudegg, who was in the CMH office when the call came in, remembers the day. Hans Gmoser, CMH founder, and Mark Kingsbury, the charismatic president of CMH Heli-Skiing at the time who helped develop the close relationships CMH Heli-Skiing enjoys with international skiers and agents, were both in the office to decide what, if anything, could be done to help Rob - who was a seasonal ski guide for CMH, and off-duty, at the time of the accident.
In Bugaboo Dreams, the book about CMH and the invention of heli-skiing, I wrote about Rob's accident:
“There was little discussion,” remembers Marty, “Hans and Mark just said to send the money right away.” The helicopter rescue was initiated as soon as the money was wired to Peru. CMH recovered the money through Rob’s insurance, but at the time the decision was made to pay for the rescue, recouping the money was not even mentioned.
Rob explained the caring demonstrated by Hans and Mark in a way many modern executives would do well to take to heart: “The commitment the company had towards me strengthened my commitment to the company.”
Rob began guiding for CMH in 1984, in 1991 he began managing CMH Bobbie Burns, and in 2001 took over as Director of Mountain Operations.
As of May 2012, Rob’s commitment to CMH Heli-Skiing has opened a new chapter with his promotion to General Manager of CMH Heli-Skiing and CMH Summer Adventures. Rob follows in the footsteps of Hans, Mark, and most recently Walter Bruns - three other mountain guides who have directed the day-to-day operations of CMH Heli-Skiing with heart and soul for the last 47 years.
Nearly half a century of leadership by experienced mountain guides has, in no small part, helped CMH Heli-Skiing to remain highly respected as a professional, community and industry leader worldwide. Rob is also the current president of HeliCat Canada and a former board member of the Canadian Avalanche Association.
Photos of Peru's Cordillera Blanca and Rob Rohn skiing near Revelstoke in January, 2012, while helping to setup the new CMH private heliski program, Nomads South, by Topher Donahue.