The Heli-Ski Blog

5 essential items to keep in your pockets while Heli-Skiing

Posted by Topher Donahue on Oct 3, 2013 7:00:00 AM

One of the great things about CMH Heli-Skiing is that you don't have to bring much with you - CMH takes care of just about everything and the helicopter is never too far away. However, there are a few things that make a day of deep powder nirvana just that much sweeter.  I'd suggest never leaving the Lodge without these 5 things in your pocket:

heli ski tips

  1. Sunscreen: Sometimes even the snowiest mornings lead to sunny afternoons, and with the transportation capability of the helicopter it is easy to start at the Lodge, surrounded by thick clouds, thinking sunscreen will not be necessary - and then spend most of the day in the sun on the other side of the range.  A small tube of SPF 30 or higher is recommended as well as lip protection. If you don’t have any, your guide or another guest will help you out, but it’s better to have you own.
  2. Goggle wipe: To protect the anti-fog characteristics and clarity of your goggle and glasses lenses, use the cloth or soft case that came with them to wipe them clean. If they’re not badly smudged, or you are near the bottom of a run and can see well enough to ski or ride safely, don’t wipe them at all and instead use the helicopter heater vents (ask a guide or veteran CMH Heli-Ski guest where they are on the machine) and hold the goggles over the vent during one of the day’s many heli lifts.
  3. Sunglasses or goggles: If you start  the day in goggles, put your glasses in your pocket. If you start the day in glasses, put your goggles in your pocket. A soft case is nice to protect them from rubbing (and faceplants). Not only will the extra eyewear make your day nicer when the weather changes, but if you fill your goggles with snow in a wipeout, you can often save some time (and prevent the group from waiting for you while you struggle to clean your goggles in a snowstorm) by just putting on your glasses for the rest of the run and save the goggle drying project for the helicopter.
  4. Thin gloves: If you end up fiddling with your snowboard binding, your GoPro, or simply eating lunch on a cold day, having a pair of thin gloves can save you a painful case of cold hands. Also, if you accidentally let a glove get away form you on a windy ridge (and you wisely decide not to chase it over the cornice) you’ll have another pair to wear. Your guide will have an extra pair in his or her pack, but you may need to ski a little ways before he or she can get them to you.
  5. Camera: Although I’m a photographer by trade, I have the utmost respect for people who don’t want a camera to intrude upon their vacation. “I just want to have fun and not worry about pictures” is a perfectly admirable philosophy. The only problem with this approach is when the mountains deliver an exceptional moment – and there are many exceptional moments in the mountains where CMH operates. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard heli-skiers say, “Oh! I wish I had my camera!” Get a tiny point-and-shoot and stick it in your pocket. It won’t hinder your day and when the clouds part with the sun shining through a mist of rainbow-coloured ice crystals and the Canadian Rockies fading into the distance, you’ll have a way to capture the moment. Don’t carry your phone if you can help it. Phones are big, fragile and easy to drop, there is no cell coverage out there, and even inexpensive tiny cameras work really well.

Photo of skis and rotors turning simultaneously in CMH Adamants by Topher Donahue.

Topics: CMH Experts, Tricks of the Trade, Adamants, powder skiing