The Heli-Ski Blog

Get away from it all with your family - the Heli-Ski Christmas

Posted by Topher Donahue on Sep 25, 2012 8:03:00 AM

Q: How do you get a smart and critical 16-year-old to believe in Santa again?
A: CMH Heli-Skiing’s Family Christmas.

family ski christmas

“I even got caught up in the Christmas Spirit,” explained Pete Harvey, a CMH Ski Guide who spent last Christmas Heli-Skiing with some lucky families in the Bugaboos. “I don’t have kids, so it’s easy to lose the Christmas Spirit, but when Santa showed up at the Bugaboos everyone was pretty wide-eyed. You could tell even the big kids were questioning their doubts.”

For 12 to17 year olds, it’s hard to imagine a more exciting, memorable family Christmas than one spent with CMH, Heli-Skiing with Mom and Dad during the day, and hanging out with other ski-minded kids at night. 

chrismas skiing dream trip

Like so many aspects of Heli-Skiing, CMH has refined the Family Christmas to be the most fun, relaxing and perfect ski vacation possible for both parents and kids. For family weeks, CMH employs extra guides, professional childcare supervisors, and chefs who know just what kids (and their parents) like to eat.

Kids and parents begin each day skiing together, but if the younger legs get tired, they can return to the lodge to participate in various indoor and outdoor activities near the lodge under the supervision of childcare professionals. 

teenager skiing powder

In the evening, the kids sit with the other kids and are served up just the kind of meal a group of hard-skiing teenagers would want to eat. A little later, the parents eat together and enjoy an entirely different atmosphere and cuisine; just the kind of dining a group of parents would enjoy after a day spent living their dreams with their family.

As a parent, I had the same questions that many parents would have when considering taking their kids on a wilderness ski vacation: “How do you take care of my kids while skiing?”

Pete explained, “We manage everything with a higher level of concern for the micro-terrain.  Where an adult could muscle through tricky stuff, we keep the kids on the more friendly terrain where we can keep an eye on everyone at all times.”

family skiing powder

Then I asked Pete, “How did the kids do at handling the deep snow and big terrain of Heli-Skiing?”

His answer was simple: “Brilliantly!”

Finally, I wanted to know how well the kids paid attention to directions, to which Pete replied, “The kids did a great job of listening, better than you'd think. You could sort of see this realization come over them that some rules were important to follow - and that grown ups have to follow those rules too.”

CMH Heli-Skiing runs family Heli-Ski programs through Christmas and New Year’s to fit with school holidays, and is priced to be easy on the family budget with the kids paying about half of the regular rate. See photos from last year's Christmas conditions in the Bugaboos on Smugmug, and for further questions call CMH Reservations at 1 (800) 661-0252.

heliskiing christmas tree

After all, can you think of anything better under the Christmas Tree than a Bell 212 helicopter and a mountain covered in deep powder?

Topics: Family Travel, Mountain Guide, christmas, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips

The ski season is fantastic - But where are the skiers?

Posted by Topher Donahue on Mar 8, 2012 12:53:00 PM

It always seemed to me that when conditions were bad in a particular region of the climbing or surfing world, the sport’s aficionados load up the van, or buy a plane ticket, and go somewhere else. 

But when ski conditions are bad in a particular region of the ski world, the sport’s aficionados seem to complain loudly and forget that even a short trip can reap dividends in face shots, big lines, and save your ski season.

I always kept this observation to myself, but then I read a Powder Magazine article that confirmed my theory in a most dramatic way.  The author, Ryan Dunfree, loudly states that skiing conditions are terrible everywhere in North America except Alaska.  He writes:  “...2012 has been about confronting record periods of high pressure, rain, April temps and instability in the backcountry. That is of course unless you live in Alaska, Europe, or Japan.”

where is the powder

Strangely, he left out the vast ski paradise that sits precisely north of the US border, Between Whistler, British Columbia and Calgary, Alberta lies some of the most sublime ski terrain on the planet, which just so happens to be having an incredibly snowy winter. 

While the legendary deep powder of the Columbia Mountains near Revelstoke is often excellent,  and has bee truly epic this season, even the more easterly areas near Calgary are starting the spring ski season with massive snowfalls.

“This is definitely one of the top ten March snowfalls on record,” said Mike Moynihan of The Lake Louise Ski Area in a press release from the Banff National Park. “We’ve seen a metre of snowfall this week and with the storm cycle finally clearing and giving way to clear blue skies, skiers and boarders are simply lapping it up.”

Sunshine Village reported 118 centimetres of new snow in the past seven days with Mount Norquay pulling down 50 centimetres of fresh dry powder just in the last 24 hours.  The Powder Magazine article reads: “Unless your name is Klaus and you live in St. Anton, there’s hardly been a faceshot to be found within five hundred miles.”  Hardly.

The author of the Powder article seems to forget that if you live anywhere in the northwestern US, you’re a weekend road trip away from what has been deep powder central almost all winter long.  If you consider air travel, it’s just 2 hours from Denver to Calgary and any skier in North America is just a long weekend from this winter’s plentiful powder harvest in Western Canada.

The guests of CMH Heli-Skiing know just how good the skiing has been at the CMH Lodges lately, but you certainly don’t need to go heliskiing to take advantage of the easy access to world class skiing just to the north of the US border.

Somehow, the entire ski epicentre of Revelstoke of is overlooked by this article in Powder Magazine, one of the continents most respected ski publications, and by many skiers who must not quite realize just how easy it is to go deep powder skiing in Western Canada.  

If California surfers were watching calm seas, and the North Shore of Hawaii was as accessible and vast as Western Canada, there would hardly be a surfer left in the state.  If it were rained out in Yosemite, but the Bugaboos and Squamish was dry, hundreds of climbers would be packing up to head north.  C’mon skiers and snowboarders, learn from your adventure brethren and pack the bags!

Photo of deep powder skiing 2012 - just north of the US border - by Topher Donahue.  

Topics: Revelstoke, Skiing Conditions, Canada, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, powder skiing

Brace yourself - yesterday's heliskiing photos from Galena

Posted by Topher Donahue on Jan 24, 2012 7:18:00 AM

I watched the first skier step out of the helicopter today at CMH Galena, and he sank up to his armpits in the fresh snow.  He looked back up at the rest of us, just exiting the machine, with wide, thrilled, stunned eyes behind his goggles - and he’s skied 11 million vertical feet of the world's greatest skiing.
galena deep powder tree skiing

Needless to say, it was the best day of skiing many of us here today have ever experienced.  Not only did we ski some the the most famous runs at Galena, like Mega Bubba and Hanging Gardens in blower, choker, creamy, over-the head powder, but there is more snow in the forecast.  At one point today, I got back in the helicopter after a nearly non-stop run with face shots on almost every turn, and my face felt like I’d just received mother nature’s most thrilling facial.  Yup, ski conditions at CMH are going off.

big deep tree skiing

On another run, I skied nearly 300 metres with the snow streaming over my shoulders and across my face the entire pitch. 

deepest powder skiing

Shooting photos in these conditions has been an unusual challenge - the pow is so deep that the skiers and snowboarders are almost entirely obscured much of the time.  But in between, when they pop out of the massive powder clouds, the magic of deep powder heli-skiing and boarding with CMH is revealed.
deep powder helicopter snowboarding

At the end of the day, with classic CMH mountain hospitality, we walked in the door of the lodge and were greeted with cold beers, hot chocolate, and steaming racks of ribs before we even had a chance to take off our snow-packed ski gear.  
face shot city galena

I had several conversations tonight with guides, staff, and guests with many years of experience chasing skiing and snowboarding nirvana, and everyone had a similar comment: "We are so fortunate to be here right now!"  Of course a couple of the guides and guests had this to add, “But it’s like this a lot around here.”
friends powder skiing

I talked to a guy this morning who just booked his trip last week - needless to say, he’s pretty happy with his last-minute decision to join us.  There is still space on the helicopter...

Topics: Galena Lodge, photos, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, Skiing Pictures, powder skiing, helicopter snowboarding

4 days 3 heliski areas: Revelstoke, Kootenay, Galena photo tour

Posted by Topher Donahue on Jan 19, 2012 8:39:00 AM

For the last 4 days I’ve been documenting the CMH Nomads from their base at the almost mythical Halcyon Hot Springs resort just south of the powder skiing epicentre of Revelstoke, BC.  Getting a glimpse of the newest genre of the world’s greatest skiing while the deep powder season in Western Canada is in banner form has been eye opening to say the least.  Here’s a photographic tour of the exciting new CMH Heli-Skiing program:

Nomads halcyon hot springs heliskiing

The Nomads South program owes part of its charm to the base area, the Halcyon Hot Springs where the healing waters are just the right medicine to get tired legs ready for another day of riding in the deep.

big trees nomads kootenay

The first day we spent in the big timber of the northern CMH Kootenay tenure in snow that both guides and hard core skiers have been saying is “as good as it gets.”

deep powder point of view

A view from the copilot’s seat of that as-good-as-snow-gets kind of fluff.

monashees tree skiing

The second day we explored the southern Revelstoke terrain.  Even the most experienced guides were talking about how magical it is to explore such amazing mountains with the freedom and power offered by heliskiing.

girl powder skiing

Then yesterday we crossed the Great Arrow Lake into the Southern Monashees and skied long tree runs between the dark waters of the Columbia River below and huge granite walls of the Gold Range above.

nomads heliski lunch

CMH Nomads concierge Sarah Watts joined us for both some blower powder skiing and a Nomads-style lunch buffet. 

galena private heliskiing

Then today we schralped Galena's southern area and flew over more spectacular ski terrain than I've ever seen in a single day.  One more day, and it's supposed to dump tonight!  For more details on the CMH Nomads heliski program, check out the interview with CMH Nomads Manager Jeff Bodnarchuck.

Topics: Monashees, CMH Nomads, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, CMH Revelstoke, CMH Kootenay

Steep Shots and Pillow Drops - Heli-skiing just got even better

Posted by Topher Donahue on Jan 16, 2012 9:12:00 AM

For the first 47 years of heli-skiing, it was all about how much deep powder could be shredded using a helicopter for a ski lift.  Maybe we’re slow learners, or maybe deep powder is just so much fun that it took this long to see the forest through the snow-cloaked trees, but enter CMH Heli-Skiing 2012 and we’re finally starting to realize that there is more to heli-skiing than just insane amounts of vertical in the most sublime snow imaginable

Along with a handful of exciting alternative heli-skiing programs now being offered by CMH Heli-Skiing, Steep Shots and Pillow Drops is 5 days of skiing designed around finding the most exciting and technical lines possible within the bounds of safety and professional ski guiding oversight.  The idea is the brain child of Pat Baird, a ski guide at CMH Kootenay, who got tired of looking at gobsmacking lines, but not having the time to  ski them within the traditional maximum-vertical oriented heli-ski program. 

steep shots and pillow drops

“I gotta admit, the inspiration was partly selfish,” Pat told me last night.  “It was partly the agony of seeing all these great lines that either half the group couldn’t ski, or the constraints of the heli-ski program wouldn’t allow.”  

CMH Kootenay is located at the southern edge of the CMH ski paradise, and the mountains are unique.  In Bugaboo Dreams, the book that chronicles the invention of help-skiing, I wrote this about CMH Kootenay:

“The Kootenay region is a maze of ridges with few taller peaks reminiscent of Utah’s Wasatch Range - on steroids.  Hundreds of pointed summits dot the horizon with steep faces on all sides.  Daniel Zimmerman, a guide from Switzerland, describes the Kootenay Selkirks as, ‘the kind of mountains shaped like children would draw.’

“In my opinion,” says Pat, an 18 year veteran ski guide, “there is no CMH area that has as much available ski terrain - virtually everything you look at is skiable.”

Steep Shots and Pillow Drops is a program Pat designed to take advantage of this remarkable area.  “The focus is not to do huge airs, but to do more technical lines that take a little longer to ski.” explains Pat.  “Sure, if we have a guy capable of big air who wants to do it, we’ll accommodate it, but Steep Shots and Pillow Drops is more about technical skiing.”

While an average day at CMH Kootenay may include 10 to 14 runs, Pat anticipates a Steep Shots and Pillow Drops day might have eight or nine runs.  “We want to be able to do an extra flight here and there, and skip a flight sometimes.  This way we can ski a run once, and say ‘I missed that hit to the left of my tracks - lets go back and ski that again!’”

According to Pat, the program should offer a special treat to families with teenagers and young adults.  “There are a lot of parents with kids who rip,” explained Pat. “In this program, the parents could ski an easier line, and then get to watch their kids rip the pillow drops.”

Part of the guide’s approach to Steep Shots and Pillow Drops is to video the more technical lines, partly for the educational value, and partly so the skiers and snowboarders can see footage of themselves ripping such incredible lines in blower pow.

Perhaps the most exciting thing is that this program has yet to be tried.  In late February, a group of Norwegians, reputedly including a professional free skier who might just blow the lid off the program, will join Pat and the CMH Kootenay guides for the inaugural week of Steep Shots and Pillow Drops.  

Following a long tradition of CMH guests getting to both participate in, as well as help design, the heli-skiing experience, Pat foresees guests getting to name technical lines and help build a photographic album of wild lines that can then be passed around the fire for inspiration and planning on future trips.

Steep Shots and Pillow Drops is part of the new Powder University at CMH, a smorgasbord of self-explanatory offerings from CMH that give everyone who can ski an ideal program where they can push their own limits, learn the skills they need to have more fun, and feel comfortable enjoying the world’s greatest skiing

This season, Steep Shots and Pillow Drops is offered in CMH Kootenay as well as CMH Revelstoke.  The Kootenay trip sold out immediately, but there is still space in Revelstoke.  Contact CMH Reservations at 1 (800) 661-0252.

Photo of CMH Kootenay anticipation and ski terrain by Topher Donahue.

Topics: Revelstoke, CMH Experts, families, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, CMH Kootenay, heli-skiing, helicopter snowboarding

Powder University: How to Have More Fun Tree Skiing

Posted by Topher Donahue on Dec 27, 2011 3:55:00 PM

“I realized we’ve been doing our guests a disservice.” said Erich Unterberger, the CMH Heli-Skiing's Manager of Guiding Operations, in explanation of the new Powder 203: Big Trees heli-skiing program - as well as the philosophy behind the entire Powder University curriculum.  “A few years ago I skied with one of our guests who had skied many millions of feet with us and he still skied exactly the same as he did years earlier; I felt like we had done this guy a disservice by not giving him the opportunity to improve.”

Ski guiding and ski instruction certainly have overlapping areas of expertise, but there are also vast areas of ski instruction where mountain guides have no experience - and vice versa.  Traditionally heli-skiers haven’t wanted a lot of instruction, but instead hire a ski guide to keep them safe and show them the best skiing possible - and lots of it.

big tree powder skiing

Since the beginning, CMH ski guides have done their best to accommodate both skiers who want instruction as well as those who do not, but to keep up with the heli-ski program the guides have traditionally been unable to give much one-on-one ski instruction.  Essentially, the pace of traditional heli-skiing makes teaching difficult.

So after many years of full throttle heli-skiing, CMH Heli-Skiing has introduced a number of education-oriented heli-skiing programs designed to mix instruction with tons of great skiing, and many CMH guides are also high level ski instructors. Erich took time, while in the midst of helping his daughter tune her skis for a race at Nakiska, to explain the new Big Trees heli-ski program:

“In every CMH area, it doesn’t really matter which one, we do about 70 percent tree skiing.  But some people are afraid to sign up for the famous tree skiing areas like Galena, Kootenay and the Monashees.  There are a lot of skiers who ski really well, but they get into the trees and start having problems.  The whole idea of Big Trees is to show people what to look for in order to ski better in the trees.”

The Big Trees groups will include a second guide so, with the sheer volume of powder skiing provided by the helicopter, each skier can expect one-on-one tree skiing instruction.

Erich outlined some of the Big Trees curriculum:

  • Tactics for heli-skiing in the trees.
  •  Partner skiing technique for confidence and safety.
  • Fall line selection.
  • How to break a tree run down to manageable segments.
  • How to avoid tree wells.
  • Turn strategy with fat powder skis.

You might think that skiing a fat ski is a no-brainer, but heli-ski guides are finding that there are real issues with the new boards.  Erich said, “They give floatation, which makes it in one way easier, but if you do not control the fat skis, the trees come up at you much faster!”

Erich explained that the Big Trees week will include a lot of skiing (100,000 feet guaranteed) with more of a coaching environment than a ski school environment.

“Our main goal,” concluded Erich, “is to give our guests a way to ski more in control, feel better about themselves, improve, and have more fun skiing."   

Photo of maximum tree skiing fun in CMH Gothics by Topher Donahue.

Topics: Ski/Snowboard Tips, Mountain Guide, CMH Experts, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, powder skiing, Powder U @ CMH

Top 3 Reasons to go heliskiing in Canada this winter

Posted by Topher Donahue on Dec 7, 2011 8:16:00 AM

With a little light-hearted humor from the CMH reservations office, a little genuinely scary snowfall trauma in some parts of the world, and epic early season conditions in BC, here are today's top 3 reasons to go heliskiing in Canada:

Reason number 3: Tired of riding chair lifts.
Last month, CMH Heli-Skiing reservations received a request for information from a group of snowboarders.  In the questions and comments section of our information request form,  the curious party wrote: “Six experienced snowboarders - all sick of ski lifts.”

Yeah, sitting on ski lifts gets old.  By comparison, while heli-skiing the ski lift is a fastidiously maintained jet helicopter and between ski runs you get the most jaw-dropping tour of some of the most inspiring ski terrain in Canada.  Boring it is not.

heli ski helicopter

Reason number 2: You’ve never been heli-skiing before.
If you’re a skier or snowboarder, and you’ve never been heli-skiing before, it’s the kind of thing everyone should do once in their lives.  CMH provides fat skis and offers programs designed for inexperienced powder skiers to make heli-skiing fun for everyone, not just expert skiers and snowboarders.

Of course if you’re an expert, and you haven’t been heli-skiing before, we don’t need to tell you how much fun you’ll have hucking laps with a jet helicopter on some of the world’s snowiest and most spectacular ski terrain.

With so many trip options for heliskiing in Canada available these days, and the high cost of ski resorts making the price of entry for heli-skiing seem like a deal, there is no excuse not to give it a try. 

Reason number 1: It’s not snowing anywhere else.
This year may be the best year in history to go heliskiing in Canada.  It seems that all the snow on the planet is falling in western Canada.  I went for a ski tour in the Colorado backcountry yesterday, and it was not only poor ski conditions, it was not yet possible to properly ski in the backcountry.  While there would normally be perhaps a metre of snow at treeline by this time of year, there were only a few centimetres of unconsolidated snow. 

And Europe has it worse.  According to an article in the BBC on Europe's snow woes, this fall has been the driest on record in Switzerland.  A few ski resorts have managed to open by utilizing man-made snow, but at the edge of the piste, brown fields tell the story of a season without snow.  The webcams at Davos reveal a dismal scene.  It is not that there is less natural snow than normal - there is no natural snow!


While we wouldn’t wish bad ski conditions on anyone, and we feel the pain of our fellow snow riders in less snowy zones around the world, we can’t help but point out that CMH heliskiers are right now soaking up face shots and pillow drops in what is probably the finest early season ski conditions we’ve ever seen - might as well go skiing where there's snow!

Topics: Skiing Conditions, Powder Introduction, Canada, First Timers, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, heli-skiing, powder skiing, helicopter snowboarding

The best early season heliskiing ever?

Posted by Topher Donahue on Nov 29, 2011 1:57:00 PM

The news of the most epic early season snowpack ever in the Canadian Rockies is getting entirely over the top.  Over the last week I have received several reports of ski conditions that are unbelievable for this time of year, even in the deep powder heliskiing paradise of Western Canada

Revelstoke early season powder

The first was from CMH Bugaboos manager Dave Cochrane, who spent a couple of days ski touring above the CMH Cariboo Lodge near his home in Valemount, BC.  After the first day, here’s what he had to say:

“This is Dave Cochrane, back in my old stomping grounds in the Cariboos.  I just had the pleasure of joining Doug Dowling on a ski tour up the ever daunting Neckroll ski run. We skied from the Lodge up the switchbacks on the Neckroll road,  to the avalanche path which is the main part of the run.

We started with 50 cm on the ground at the lodge, very supportive snowpack, with about 15 cm of ski penetration in fluff.  At the top of the logging road where it meets the chute at 1450m there  is 70-80 cm of well supported snow. We skied to the top of the slide path to the “low heli landing” on the skier’s left of the slide path. There, at 1780m we had 120 cm.  Lower down in the chute @ 1680m. there was 100 cm  At the heli landing the ski penetration is 25 cm and the boot penetration is about 35 cm.  The boot penetration tells a good story for early season snowpack, not much penetration and the boots don’t go any further in since the snowpack is so supportive.

The downhill run was truly outstanding in an average of 25 cm of super powder with a great support, no breaking through in weak snow anywhere. If I had to open heli skiing today here, based on my limited observations, the skiing story on Neckroll would certainly make it a good opening.

I am hoping to return here tomorrow for some more skinning up and great shredding going down. Since 10:00 this morning it has been snowing steadily at just less than 1 cm an hour, with thick overcast skies.”

The next day, Dave sent this follow up:

“I skied up Neckroll again today. I just couldn't get enough yesterday. Where I took my skins off at 1780 m. the same high point I went to yesterday, there was 25 cm. of new overnight snow, making for spectacular skiing on the way down.  The storm today was very intense with strong winds all day and while I was skiing there this morning it was snowing 2 cm. an hour.  We had warm temperatures and rain in the town of Valemount, but as soon as one left town for the mountains it was snowing hard. Keep it coming!”

Then I received a note from a long time CMH guest who forwarded me an email from Rob Rohn, the Director of Mountain Operations at CMH Heli-Skiing:

“Hello everyone – We’ve had a really great start to the winter with a snowpack that’s well above average.  There’s a meter and a half to two meters at tree line with a very solid base already.  Konrad went for a ski tour today in the Adamants and had good skiing to the lowest pick up on Bungee at 1200 m.  We’re all wishing we were open now!  So spread the word that the best skiing on the planet is out there waiting for our first guests to show up.  Anyone who’s been contemplating an early season trip should get off the couch – winter has arrived!
See you on the slopes!”

Just this morning, I received this note from Rob, who is just finishing up CMH Guide Training at CMH Monashees:

"It’s snowing again and we’re expecting a substantial accumulation over the day.  I was just talking to the long time Monashee guides this morning and none of them can remember a year with this much snow and such a solid snowpack this early.  It’s like mid-winter out there.  A couple of days ago we skied Come Again to the bottom at 950 m and it was really good all the way.  Some winters it doesn’t get that good that low ever!  All the big tree runs in Soards Creek are in prime condition.  It really is a phenomenal start to the season and our first guests are going to enjoy some incredible skiing."

Photo of ski touring on Rogers Pass near Revelstoke by CMH Guide Marty Schaffer during November 2011.

There are still a few spaces left in the helicopter for the most epic early season heliskiing ever - give CMH Reservations a call at (800) 661-0252.

Topics: CMH Monashees, Bugaboos, CMH Experts, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, heli-skiing, powder skiing, Cariboo Lodge

Another La Nina? After last winter, we'll take it!

Posted by Topher Donahue on Oct 25, 2011 7:18:00 AM

La Niña. El Niño.  Whatever.  It always sounded to me like a soundbite for the media more than a real predictor of local weather.  Sure, the temperatures of the ocean currents surely have profound effects on the planet’s weather, but how much they affect things like snow quality for heli-skiers is is another thing entirely.  Or so I thought.

I was always a cynic of long term weather forecasting. Then last winter happened.  I don’t think I’ve had more face shots in a single winter in my entire life.  Nearly every day was a powder day.  And all the North American skiers I talked to - from Aspen, to Jackson Hole, to Banff to Revelstoke - had the same experience.  By February, I found myself asking: “Now, was this a La Niña or an El Niño season? ‘Cause whatever this is, I want another one!”

powder la nina heliski

Last winter, demonstrated in the above photo from CMH Gothics, was a strong La Niña, so this year when August rolled around and I heard La Niña was in the forecast, I started getting excited. 

Curious about long range forecasts, I looked at the usual places.  NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center anticipates above normal precipitation and snowfall in parts of the Pacific Northwest (a good thing for heli-skiers), with equal chances for above or below average precipitation for the southern US Rockies of Colorado and Utah.  For skiers interested in weather predictions, it’s worth checking out NOAA’s maps of precipitation and temperature.  The map below is NOAA's the predicted precipitation for the USA this coming December through February:

NOAA winter preciptiation prediction mapFor a more applicable insight into how much long term weather prediction can foecast ski quality, I looked up Joel Gratz,  a skier and meteorologist who has combined his passions into one of the web’s most followed ski websites, Colorado Powder Forecast.  He has an immense following, and his visionary approach is profiled here in Colorado's Denver Post.

I asked Joel straight up:  How much can skiers rely on La Niña/El Niño to forecast skiing quality for an upcoming winter?  For example, would you base purchasing a season pass or a ski trip based on La Niña?

Joel replied:  “Weather is only one factor I look at when deciding to purchase a ski pass or plan a trip. Meteorologists can somewhat accurately predict snowfall patterns during seasons with a strong El Nino or La Nina. But this season features a weaker La Nina compared to 2010-2011, so confidence in a snowfall outlook for the winter is lower than last year. Ultimately, the quality of skiing comes down to each individual storm, which aren't predictable more than about a week ahead of time.”

Gratz wrote an article on La Niña for Skiing Magazine and, while he’s not a big fan of long term weather forecasting as it relates to ski quality either, he did make this general - and if you’re a skier, highly exciting - statement: “For North America, La Niña has some predictable consequences for snow during the winter: it snows a lot.”

To give heli-skiers some real information on the World’s Greatest Skiing, I sent Joel snowfall data for the Columbia Mountains near CMH Heliskiing areas going back as far as the 70s.  From the reports, he looked at for Mica Creek weather station near CMH Monashees, he had this to say: “In short, it looks like La Niña signals at least average or well above average snowfall.”

Environment Canada season forecast

That's saying something - average snowfall in the Columbia Mountains is utterly epic.  His quick study agrees with Environment Canada’s predictions, visible above in their precipitation forecast map for this coming December and January, which puts CMH Heliskiing areas in the red and white zone for normal or above normal precipitation.

What about you?  Is the La Niña forecast changing your winter plans?

Topics: Canada, weather, CMH Experts, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, heli-skiing, powder skiing

CMH Heli-Skiing Makes Going Back to School Fun

Posted by Sarah Pearson on Sep 5, 2011 11:40:00 PM

Hit the Slopes, as well as the Books!

At CMH Heli-Skiing, the beginning of the school year marks the end of summer, but the impending arrival of winter also marks a time to celebrate the joy of learning and the achievement of kids.  In this spirit, the company that invented Heli-Skiing almost 50 years ago is offering a variety of interesting and exciting trips:

Unloading Heli, CMH Bugaboos, Brad WhiteFAMILY HELI-SKIING VACATIONS

What better way to reward skiing kids over the winter vacation than with an amazing Family Ski Vacation in BC?  For those with 12- to 17-year-olds, this is the ultimate White Christmas.  Families begin the day skiing together, but kids can return to the lodge when they tire to participate in various fun, supervised indoor and outdoor activities -- including a climbing wall, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hockey and broomball, building igloos and snowmen.  Each evening, a family dinner is served with kid-friendly options.  Adding to the festive atmosphere, there will be Christmas celebrations, including a beautiful tree with presents for everyone in the lodge (and Santa may even show up in a helicopter!).

*Younger children are welcome but guests must provide childcare (a non-skier, “nanny” rate is offered)


While anyone is welcome, this trip is designed to inspire the next generation of heli-skiers and boarders.  Skiers and riders 12 – 25 years old will receive a 50% discount for half of the guaranteed vertical when travelling with a full-paying adult.   CMH is offer four trips in March and April 2012.  Maybe the ultimate spring break ski trip.    At CMH we joke that we offer a new (and better) way for the next generation to get high! WARNING: Heli-Skiing can be addictive. Check out the video here:

And don’t forget…POWDER U!

Powder 101?  Powder 505?  Or maybe Powder 707?  Through our new Powder University, CMH offers courses for all levels – from those who are just discovering powder snow to those looking to hone their skills in the steep couloirs of the Cariboo Mountains and everything in between.   For those who have already been granted their M.D. or D.D.S.., CMH’s Med School offers health-care providers and other professionals with an interest in health-related issues a variety of CME Heli-Skiing weeks run by 4 different medical practitioners and covering a range of topics.   Powder U @ CMH was developed and is overseen by the “Dean of Deep Powder,” Roko Koell.  

Our cirriculum for Powder U will be expanding in the next few weeks.  To be informed of new courses, sign up to receive our e-newsletter.

Topics: Announcements, 2012 Heli-Skiing Trips, Powder U @ CMH