With the over the top (literally) snow we’ve experienced in 2012, CMH Heli-Skiers have been putting their gear to the test, and both experienced Heli-Skiers and first timers are wondering if their gear will be up for the demands of deep powder skiing. So to help out, I dug back through The Heli-Ski Blog archives and came up with the year's top five gear tips from experienced guides, staff and guests.
#5 Don’t take new boots on a ski trip. Skiers spend a bunch of money on new boots for their dream trip and then end up with sore feet, blisters, and simply don’t have as much fun. You’d be better off skiing in your old, comfortable boots than buying a new pair and taking them on your dream trip without time to work out the kinks.
If you have time to break in a new pair of boots, consider this: most people prefer a softer boot for powder skiing, and stiff boots just make the fluid motions of deep powder skiing more awkward and difficult for all but the world’s best skiers. If you are going to use custom footbeds, don’t retrofit them to your boots - get them fitted from day one.
#4 Use large, double lens goggles for powder skiing. You’ll notice the ski guides all wear the big, dorky-looking goggles that allow lots of space between the face and the lenses. This keeps the warmth from your face from fogging up the goggles and work far better than the more stylish close-fitting goggles.
Also, double lens googles with ventilation holes in the lenses tend to fog more than the double lens models that are completely sealed. The idea is that the ventilation allows moisture to escape; the only thing better is sealed lenses that don’t let moisture get between the lenses in the first place.
#3 Wear puffy, warm gloves with long gauntlets. Many stylish, streamlined ski gloves have short gauntlets that quickly fill with snow, or have too little insulation to keep the fingers warm in the deep winter of Western Canada. You don’t need to have a lot of finger dexterity for putting on your skis or snowboard and ripping deep powder. Many Heli-Skiers even use big mittens rather than gloves for the ultimate in warmth. There’s nothing more distracting from the fun of Heli-Skiing than cold fingers.
Each CMH Heli-Skiing guest is given a small pack to ski with, and while you don’t want to carry a bunch of extra stuff, putting an extra pair of mittens or gloves in the pack can save the day when you first pair fills with snow.
#2 Dress for action. Sure, the best deep powder skiing happens in cold weather, but skiing deep powder can work up a sweat, especially if you're new to the game. Instead of wearing the kind of clothes you’d wear to sit around in extreme cold, wear what you’d need to go for a brisk walk or a easy jog.
Skiing bottomless powder and then jumping in a heated helicopter between runs is unlike any other outdoor activity. If you’re unsure, consult with a guide or other CMH staff - we all share the common goal of making your ski trip as fun and comfortable as possible.
#1 Don’t wear white! When you wear white, you blend in with the snow and you make it harder for your ski partners and the guides to see you, and if you take a wrong even the sharp-eyed helicopter pilots will have more trouble finding you.
Save the fashion for the streets of St. Anton or Aspen, and wear bright colours while Heli-Skiing. In the 15,000 square kilometres that is CMH Heli-Skiing, there are a lot of places for a skier dressed in white to blend in.
Happy New Year to all you snow riders, and may the next 12 months be as fantastic as the last!
Some seasons these tips are just suggestions, but this year, with every CMH guest experiencing once-in-a-lifetime powder conditions, these tips are verging on essential. For more information visit the CMH Heli-Skiing Equipment Information page.