The Heli-Ski Blog

Happy New Year from all of us at CMH Heli-Skiing!

Posted by Topher Donahue on Dec 31, 2013 5:12:00 PM

Wishing you many happy turns in 2014!

happy new year

Topics: Announcements

CMH K2 turns two and gets big props

Posted by Topher Donahue on Dec 4, 2013 7:03:00 AM

A magazine feature in the winter edition of Kootenay Mountain Culture is devoted to the young partnership between CMH and K2, and how it has put the sleepy town of Nakusp, in Interior BC, Canada, on the map.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of Kootenay Mountain Culture, check it out. It’s the magazine you wish all other outdoor mags were like. It’s honest, well-written and diverse, covering every mountain sport yet invented and revealing the often hidden world of mountain culture, art and lifestyle.

Seth Morrison heliskiing

In the article on CMH K2, titled “Nakusp Gets Sethed”, Editor-in-Chief Mitchell Scott presents the local’s view of the new face of Nakusp, the K2 athletes and executives thrill at having a world-class Heli-Skiing destination to “work” with, and the CMH guide’s story of their “office.”

I suppose it’s not surprising that two of the snow sport industry’s most iconic brands, with a century of experience between them, could get together and turn one of the least know ski destinations in BC into perhaps the world’s coolest place to ride, but it is surprising how the change has permeated the local culture.

From the local ski hill, where K2 put up $1500 to install rails where the local kids could learn to jib like the pros, to the renovation of the Kuskanax Lodge into the K2 Rotor Lodge, in just two years, cool has transformed the ski scene in Nakusp.

A quote from Mike Gutt, K2s Global Marketing Manager, sums it up: “It’s a cool place where everything resonates with the K2 vibe: the town, the mentality, the terrain.”

Scott describes the renovation at the Rotor Lodge that helped lead the town’s metamorphosis from unknown to cool:

"Old K2 paraphernalia is sprinkled throughout the lodge, and each (room) has its own distinct theme. There are posters, top sheets of classic K2 models, covered bar stools, and bits of helicopters on the walls. It’s funky and it feels ‘ski’ in every room."

CMH K2 Area Manager, Peter Macpherson, reveals the mentality:

"The presence of K2 athletes and staff, who've been coming up religiously for the past couple of years, as well as the photography and footage that's coming out of our lodge, is beginning to attract younger, more adventure-oriented skiers."

Finally, an interaction with one of the guides reveals the conditions and terrain:

“It’s sunny, there are 20 centimetres of col -9C powder, and the mountains are firing. ‘This is skiing in the Selkirks,’ says lead guide and Nakusp local Patrick Baird. ‘It’s always good up here. It always snows.’ With that he leads his group of 10 skiers down into clouds of whitesmoke, through perfectly spaced trees, to the valley bottom far below."

The terrible twos at CMH K2 are happening, but there is hardly any space left at the party. All the seats during the K2 athlete weeks are sold out, and the rest of the season has precious few openings, so if you want in on the coolest partnership in skiing (and a free pair of K2 skis of your choice for your efforts) speed dial CMH reservations before anyone else at 1 (800) 661-0252.

Lots of space next season though!


50 Hour Special Promotion for the 2014/15 Heli-Ski Season  Begins Dec 11 at 8:30 MST Click Here for Details


Photo by John Entwistle: Seth Morrison hiding out in the Kootenays.

Topics: CMH K2, Ski Heroes, Seth Morrison, Announcements, hospitality, Athletes

CMH Heli-Skiing to unveil refashioned Gothics Lodge

Posted by Jane Carswell on Nov 22, 2013 4:38:00 PM


2014 CMHGothics DiningRoom

CMH Heli-Skiing, the world’s largest Heli-Skiing operator and the company that invented the sport in Western Canada nearly 50 years ago, announced today that it will unveil significant renovations to its Gothics Lodge, along with a sizeable expansion in its ski terrain in the Selkirks sub-range of the Columbia Mountains for the 2013/2014 season. 

The refashioned Gothics Lodge, which will open on December 7, 2013 for the CMH Heli-Skiing season, will feature new interior design by the cutting-edge Portland-based design firm, Skylab Architecture.  This new design concept for the public spaces of the Gothics Lodge seeks to connect the rugged terrain for which CMH is known with a warm, yet contemporarily designed alpine lodge.  The renovations include an overhaul of the central living and dining areas of the lodge, adding designer wrought iron chandeliers with hand-blown glass, wool accessories, digitally printed alpine views and Swiss-stacked fir tables from a regional Canadian designer to the lodge’s iconic native Douglas fir walls and columns and large stone fireplace.

Guests of the Gothics Lodge will also benefit from a significant expansion this Heli-Skiing season in the lodge’s skiable terrain, which will add nearly 18,000 acres to its tenure—an additional area almost as large as the three largest ski resorts in North America combined.

2014 CMHGothics LivingRoom

“With the redesign of the Gothics Lodge with its sleek new look, we are thrilled to usher in a brand-new era of CMH Heli-Skiing,” says Joe Flannery, President of CMH.  “Skylab has done a fantastic job at creating an aesthetic that retains the warm social space of an iconic CMH alpine lodge while updating it for the next generation, as we head towards our 50th-anniversary celebrations next year.”

“For a skier, there is no place like British Columbia for fresh powder,” says Jeff Kovel, AIA, Principal of Skylab Architecture.  “The CMH vision, aligning the hospitality experience with an inspired natural surrounding, is something we’re proud to be a part of.”

For more information about CMH Heli-Skiing and the brand-new Gothics Lodge, please visit:  For more about Skylab Architecture, visit:

Topics: CMH Heli-Skiing, Gothics Lodge, Announcements

The ACMG, CMH and 50 years of Canadian guiding

Posted by Topher Donahue on Nov 21, 2013 7:06:00 AM

In July of 1913, exactly 100 years ago this past July, Conrad Kain guided two guests, Albert McCarthy and William Foster, on the first ascent of Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

Kain wrote in his book, Where the Clouds Can Go, in his typically dry prose, an account of the ascent. In describing their summit push, he reveals much about the profession of guiding - the effort, the judgment, the human element, and about safely venturing into the unknown:

“About 3:45 I lit a fire, cooked breakfast, and at 4:30 we set out, reaching the summit of Mt. Robson ‘King of the Rockies’ about 5:30 p.m. I was half snowblind. I cut 500-600 steps in sheer ice, often breaking in above the knees in soft fresh snow. It was a hard day for me, but I reached the goal and made the real first ascent.”

Later, Kain describes his decision-making:

“The descent was very dangerous, and I would not undertake to follow the route of ascent going down. So we descended to the southwest side."

Today, Kain's ascent of Mt. Robson is revered worldwide by mountain guides aspiring to lead their guests safely through the ultimate mountain experience.

50 years after Kain's ground-breaking ascent, another phenomenon of mountain adventure was underway. This time it was not a singular summit, but rather an awakening; the realization of the quality of skiing to be found in Western Canada.

An Austrian guide named Hans Gmoser, who had immigrated to Canada to escape the deprivation of post-war Europe, was leading ski tours each spring and shooting films of the cozy huts, deep snow, long runs and camaraderie of backcountry skiing. During the off season, he took his films on tour through Europe and the United States, opening the eyes of skiers across the globe to the wonders of Canadian skiing.

Skiers by the dozens joined Hans, and the combination of Hans’ personality and the mountains and snow where they skied, proved irresistible.  One guest summed it up perfectly:

“Hans, when I skied with you, I not only learned how to ski powder, I learned to live. It was a precious gift; I have treasured it constantly since. Thank you, thank you more than I can express.”

The growing popularity of mountain sport, partly fueled by Gmoser’s inspiration, demanded that guiding standards were developed. So, in 1963, the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) was formed in collaboration with Parks Canada, with Gmoser as the ACMG’s first technical director.

The same year, Hans began experimenting with Heli-Skiing, and by 1965 had taken the concept into the promised land of helicopter-accessed snow riding, the Columbia Mountains, and founded CMH Heli-Skiing. The remote peaks, deep snow, and ideal ski terrain afforded meteoric rise to the popularity of Heli-Skiing. By the late 60s, without enough Canadian guides to handle the burgeoning popularity of the sport, Hans was actively recruiting European guides to work with him Heli-Skiing in Canada. There was no program for teaching Canadians the skills needed for mountain guiding, so in 1966 the ACMG ran their first guide training, with Hans as the instructor.

Two Swiss guides who worked with Hans, Rudi Gertsch and Hans Peter “HP” Stettler, began laying the groundwork to include Canada in the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA).

50 years of the ACMG

Photo of some of Canada's guiding forefathers in the Bugaboos in 2005 to celebrate 40 years of CMH Heli-Skiing. From left: Rudi Gertsch, Hans Gmoser, Hans Peter "HP" Stettler, Kobi Wyss, Peter Schlunegger, Hermann Frank, Lloyd "Kiwi" Gallagher, Sepp Renner, Ernst Buehler, Leo Grillmair and Bob Geber. Photo by Topher Donahue.

In Seizing the Sharp End: 50 years of the ACMG, the 17th edition of The Summit Series books written by Lynn Martel and published by the Alpine Club of Canada, Stettler is quoted saying: “Canada was always very well accepted. We had something to offer that nobody else had, which was Heli-Skiing. It was a lot of work, but I always felt that Canada was important enough of a mountain country with a mountain guiding fraternity to be part of that (IFMGA).”

In the book's introduction, Peter Tucker, the Executive Director of the ACMG, sums up the philosophy of Canadian mountain guides: "But above all, the story of the ACMG is about its relationship with the public and the unrelenting commitment of its members to keeping (guests) safe while providing them with the adventure of their lives, a commitment that is carried out with an impossible-to-describe balance of bravura, humility and wisdom. A promise that is, indeed, the keystone thread throughout the tapestry of this organization."

In 1974, Canada officially became the first non-European country to be accepted into the IFMGA, setting the stage for other countries across the globe to become part of the organization.

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the ACMG, and nearly half a century of the world’s greatest skiing, and celebrations include an exhibition at Banff's Whyte Museum titled Pinnacle Perspectives: Celebrating the ACMG 50th Anniversary. One of the biggest reasons to celebrate this anniversary is in recognition of how the IFMGA and its affiliated associations, including the ACMG, have built the guiding profession to exemplify international cooperation and trust in a way that very few professions have ever achieved.

Roko Koell, a long-time CMH Heli-Skiing guide told me once that he thought Hans Gmoser deserved a Nobel Peace Prize for the way he helped the guides and guests from different cultures enjoy the mountains together in seamless harmony. Hans however, whose warm humility in his later years would have never wanted exclusive recognition, would likely suggest that the deserving party for a Nobel Peace Prize would be the IFMGA.

So tonight, when you’re daydreaming about enjoying the deep snow in the Columbias with the security of a mountain guide on your team, pour a toast to Hans, 50 years of the ACMG and the international cooperation of the guiding profession.

Topics: Hans Gmoser, Bugaboos, Canada, CMH Guides, Announcements, Guides, Banff

Avalanche rescue apps for your smartphone

Posted by Topher Donahue on Nov 1, 2013 7:15:00 AM

Want to find the nearest gas station, read reviews of a bottle of wine by scanning the bottle, or find someone buried in an avalanche?

There’s an app for that.

Turning a smartphone into an avalanche victim locator is a bold and innovative idea, and these three European companies are now marketing apps that they claim turns a smartphone into an avalanche rescue tool:

While the specifics differ in each app, they use WiFi or Bluetooth signals, and the idea is that two smartphones running the same app can be used to find each other. It's an exciting concept, however, the smartphone apps have serious shortcomings when it comes to being used as an avalanche transceiver, including:

  • Battery life – International standards for avalanche transceivers require them to transmit over 200 hours. Smartphones hardly last a day, especially in the cold.
  • Compatibility – These apps only work with another phone using exactly the same app while different brands of avalanche transceivers all work on the same frequency so different brands can find each other.
  • Antenna – Modern transceivers use two antennas, smartphones only have one, making them less accurate.
  • Reliability – Ever try to use your touch screen while wearing gloves in a snowstorm, or have your OS crash during a rescue?
  • Harness – Smartphones do not have a harness designed to prevent being torn away during an avalanche. 

But the biggest issue appears to be the signal itself – avalanche transceivers operate at 457kHz because it transmits very well through heavy snow, rocks and wood, and is extremely accurate. Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) Director Gilles Valade explains: “WiFi and Bluetooth signals are significantly weakened when passing through snow, and easily deflected by solid objects we expect to see in avalanche debris. And the accuracy of a GPS signal is nowhere near the precision required for finding an avalanche victim.”

avalanche transceiver

The apps have been tested at distances around 40-metres and up to 2-metre burials, but the tests were done by the companies that make the apps, so the tests were likely conducted in optimal conditions. Unknown factors in their performance include a person lying over the phone, wet or dense snow, and objects in the snow interfering with the signal.

So the question remains: Is there a place for these apps?  After reading through the websites of the three apps (interesting reading by the way), I tried to think of a scenario where the app may have a place. One possibility is the use described as appropriate on the iSis site: skiing deep powder in-bounds at a ski area. (To iSis' credit, they are the only one of these app makers that specifically says that the technology is not appropriate for use in the backcountry.) But then you'd need a friend who has the same app as well as a shovel and probe. Rescuing a person under avalanche debris if the rescuer does not have a shovel and probe is nearly impossible. And if you own a shovel and probe you’d better have a proper avalanche transceiver as well.

The CAC has posted a press release and a comprehensive paper on the app technology with the clear message that these apps are inadequate for avalanche rescue purposes, and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) has posted the paper on their website.

Besides the warnings from these respected professional organizations, the apps are getting a lot of bad press, and perhaps the mistake being made is in marketing more than technology. Rather than promoting them as technology that turns your smartphone into a reliable avalanche rescue tool, they should be promoted more in the way Todd Guyn, the Mountain Safety Manager at CMH Heli-Skiing, described his view of the apps: "It is an interesting concept of  technology and possibly useful in  an unplanned, unprepared  avalanche rescue. Having said that, I like to have the right tool for the right job. If you are ill do you want to go to the doctor or do you want to pull out your app? In the end it is your life."

By the end of my research I came to the obvious conclusion that smartphones are not designed - at least not yet - to be used as avalanche rescue technology for backcountry use. You wouldn’t replace the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) on your boat or the smoke detector in your bedroom with a smartphone app, so don’t use a smartphone in place of an avalanche transceiver either.

Photo: Just because this avalanche transceiver is about the same size as your phone doesn't mean your phone can do the same job.

Topics: Product Information, CMH Experts, Announcements, safety, Avalanche Safety

ShredFX: The forecast for Canadian powder

Posted by Topher Donahue on Sep 30, 2013 7:00:00 AM

Starting this winter, Western Canada has a weather forecasting website designed specifically for skiers and snowboarders. It is called ShredFX, and it delivers snow and weather forecasts for the region’s ski areas – forecasts that take into consideration the unique weather patterns of individual ski areas and the idiosyncrasies of the mountains themselves.

We can now make a call as to where to ride if we’re looking for pow with just a quick glance at ShredFX. Even the colour legend suggests it was built from the ground up with powder hounds in mind:

  • Lots of Rain
  • Lots of Rain and Snow Mixed
  • Some Snow
  • Oodles of Snow
  • Champagne (I don’t think they’re talking about the bubbly drink.)
  • Oodles of Champagne

A partial screenshot from ShredFX looks something like this:

describe the image

Looking more closely, ShredFX gives us forecasted precipitation amounts for each of 27 different ski resorts over the next four days. Why only four days? Because mountain weather is so difficult to predict that four days is about as far in the future as a mountain weather can be forecasted. For that matter, 2 days is about as far ahead as we can expect highly accurate mountain forecasts.

Yup, I think ShredFX was designed by people who play in the snow. Indeed, it is a service provided by the Mountain Weather Services, the same resource that provides avalanche professionals (including CMH Heli-Skiing), heli and cat skiing guides, and the movie industry with subscription-based weather forecasts designed for professional users.

With a tagline of “only the gods know better” ShredFX must be pretty sure they are providing an entirely new forecasting product, and I'd agree. A CMH Ski Guide once told me that the Mountain Weather Services forecasts were the first forecasts to have any real usefulness for ski guides in Canada – and up until now these pinpoint mountain forecasts were the exclusive domain of snow professionals.

powder snow

The ShredFX forecasts are broken down the 3 main regions of western Canada - the Coast, Interior, and the Rockies. Along with the precipitation forecasts are two weather maps: a satellite view of precipitation and an atmospheric pressure map.

While the mountain weather forecasting has gotten better every year, until very recently there has been little done specifically for skiers and snowboarders aside from truly excellent avalanche forecasting services - and avalanche forecasting has a fundamentally different mission than powder forecasting. A few years ago, Joel Gratz, a meteorologist from Colorado started the Colorado Powder Forecast, combining the automated weather forecasts with location-specific climate and terrain knowledge as well as powder-centric weather pattern modeling. The snow riding community was ravenous for such a resource, and Gratz went national, changing the name to Open Snow which now has over 15 million monthly hits.

The significance of sites like ShredFX and Open Snow is enormous. What it means is that the information that was once only available to professional groups with paid subscriptions - and vast experience in intrepreting weather data - is now being made available for free to the public.

It means that recreational users of the backcountry now have one more tool in their toolbag for making decisions, but as with other decision-making tools, we can use them to make good decisions as well as bad decisions. It is for this reason that the Mountin Weather Services backcountry forecasts remain the domain of professionals and are not made public by ShredFX. There is a lot of wisdom in their explanation of why they don’t publish backcountry forecasts:

“The ShredFX, like all public and freely available forecasts, is not suited for applications where adverse weather can get you into trouble. MWS does not encourage backcountry winter travel without thorough and detailed knowledge of avalanche and weather conditions that go well beyond the information contained in the ShredFX. Professional guides certified by organizations like the ACMG, IFMGA and CAA have the knowledge to interpret weather information on a professional level and often retain services by professional meteorologists (like MWS) to keep you safe in the backcountry. Your best bet is to stick with those professionals or a ski resort.”

Here’s another way to put it: Knowing which ski area is likely to get the most snow is great for maxing out the fun, but incorrectly interpreting a forecast calling for oodles of fresh snow in one valley in the backcountry can be dangerous and not fun at all.

The bottom line is that ShredFX is obviously designed as a resource for snow riders looking to have fun. We now have more information at our fingertips that will help us enjoy the wonders of winter to the fullest. Thank you ShredFX!

Ice crystal photo by Topher Donahue.

Topics: Canadian Rockies, Canada, Product Information, CMH Experts, Announcements, Guides, Banff, Avalanche Safety

CMH in Denver and Joel Gratz on Boulder precipitation trends

Posted by Topher Donahue on Sep 27, 2013 2:14:00 PM

Colorado is ready to ski!

Last night, CMH rocked Denver, Colorado. (Or maybe it was the other way around.) In either case, I headed to CMH Heli-Skiing’s Take Flight show in Denver last night hardly thinking about skiing, and today that’s all I can think about.

joel gratzMaybe it was Open Snow meteorologist Joel Gratz’s presentation on long range snowfall predictions (which he prefaced by saying that long range snowfall predictions are terrible). But he dug into old records and found that after Boulder’s five wettest Septembers, the winter that followed was above average or significantly above average for Colorado Snowfall!  Even Joel was shocked at the correlation, and with Boulder just finishing its wettest September on record, Colorado skiers might want to get some fatter skis!

Perhaps my skiphoria this morning is because of Chris Davenport’s inspiring presentation showing him going deep at CMH Valemount last winter and raving about just how darn much fun it is to ski – any kind of skiing.

Both Chris and Joel are hosting trips to CMH this winter – although after last night I don’t know if there are any spaces left. Give CMH reservations a call ASAP at 1 (800) 661-0252 to snag the last spaces with these two powder legends in Canada for a Heli-Ski trip.

It could have been being surrounded by 300 of Colorado’s most inspired skiers and snowboarders, from muscular 20 year olds with their baseball caps on sideways, to fit 60 year olds in leather.

Then there was the full length Take Flight movie, which is riveting. The sequences of powder skiing and snowboarding are good enough that you can almost feel the snow crystals bouncing off your goggles; some of the best snow texture and snow experience footage I’ve ever seen. I think the faces on the crowd in this photo pretty much agree:

denver ski crowd

icelanticOr it was the irrepressible stoke of the guy who won a pair of powder skis from Icelantic in the free gear drawing.

Then there’s the cold temperatures and fresh snow falling on the peaks this morning.

Whatever the reason, I can’t stop thinking about skiing today, and my suspicions are that it’s a combination of all of the above.

Thanks CMH, Joel and Chris for the incredible show in Denver last night. Thanks to the crowd for the psyche and the generous donations to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.



Only Sasquatch seemed grumpy, but maybe that's because he didn't win the skis.

Sasquatch girls

Two wrap it up, we threw down on the rooftop of Battery 621 under the cooling Colorado skies that prefaced today's early winter storm.

red bull DJ

Wanna get stoked and Take Flight with CMH Heli-Skiing? This is just the beginning…

Join us in Washington DC at the US Navy Memorial on October 9 (RSVP here), Seattle, WA on November 5, or New York, NY on November 21.

Photos by Topher Donahue and Mike Arzt.

Topics: Ski Heroes, CMH Heli-Skiing, CMH Valemount, Skis, CMH Experts, Announcements, Snowboarding

CMH wraps up a stellar 48th Heli-Ski season

Posted by Topher Donahue on May 10, 2013 7:22:00 AM

Last weekend, CMH Heli-Skiing wrapped up the Heli-Ski season in style. On Saturday, Dave Cochrane, the Bugaboos Area Manager, sent our Banff Office this letter that nicely sums up not only Dave’s perspective on the world’s greatest skiing, but also the entire company’s focus on safety and attention to our guests:

Good morning everyone,
Our last guests just got on the bus about 20 minutes ago.

We have had a truly outstanding last week of skiing with good weather, and every kind of good condition you can imagine, from deep silky powder to the best corn you could possibly have or dream about and also a little sticky gluey snow here and there, with very little or no transition from powder to corn.

We had a really fantastic season, with a lot of deep powder through the first half and then smaller storms after that. I can’t recall any bad skiing at all, although I am more than heavily biased for all the good memories. We had a couple of rainy days and didn’t ski, but it literally was seen by all of us simply as a huge opportunity for new snow and we remained positive. As it turned out the rain healed everything with lots of new snow at the ends of the rainy periods as the weather cooled down.

Our staff were really incredible and were instrumental in keeping everything safe and fun for everyone. I am privileged to be able to work with the remarkable people here at the lodge.

I would like to thank you all again for the tremendous hard work to keep us well supplied, safe and running smoothly. Your collective dedication to high quality professional management of all aspects of the support you provide us is really the best and makes running the show up here very easy indeed!

For so many of us it’s a job, but we are fortunate to work with incredible people and like I said before you should all be proud for a job very well done!

Thanks and to many more safe and happy mountain adventures!

-Dave Cochrane

heli ski season

Every skier and snowboarder who joined CMH for a trip, from some of the sport’s visionary superstars to first timers who are intermediate skiers, gave us rave reviews. The common story across the range of skill levels and experiences is how the combination of the staff hospitality, comfortable lodging, careful and personable guides - and of course the epic snow riding -make for one of the finest experiences this world has to offer.

Thanks Dave! Here’s to a fine conclusion to the 48th winter of CMH Heli-Skiing!  

Topics: Ski Heroes, Bugaboos, 2013 Heli-Skiing Trips, down days, Deep Pow, adventure, Announcements, Guides

Meet Joe Flannery, President of CMH

Posted by Topher Donahue on Mar 14, 2013 9:19:00 AM

“Quality.” Replied Joe Flannery, the new President of CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures, when I asked him what CMH is all about. “Quality of snow. Quality of experience. Quality of guides and staff. Quality of helicopters. Quality of lodges. Quality of the alpine ethic.”

president of CMH Heli Skiing

Last month I had breakfast with Joe in Denver, Colorado where he was attending the SIA trade show. I was thinking he might give me a laundry list of the changes he was planning with CMH, but before the waiter even poured coffee, Joe made it clear that his role was not to make a laundry list of changes, but rather to get educated about the complex workings and then to ensure the future vitality of one of the world’s most established and respected mountain tourism companies.

He did explain that there were some things he saw no need to change, including CMH operations in the field. “The product doesn’t need to be reinvigorated,” he explained. “The product is the best in the world.”

And Joe knows something about quality. In the three years after he finished undergraduate studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, he went from a financial analyst, to a startup employee, to a product director for Nike. He then spent a decade working for Adidas in Bavaria, the mountainous region in southern Germany, where he headed Adidas’ billion-dollar sports heritage division. After returning to the United States, Joe landed a job as the Global VP of The North Face, and helped the company to grow 300% during his tenure.

During his free time in Europe, the United States, and now Canada, Joe picked up a wide range of outdoor sports including skiing, snowboarding, surfing, rock climbing, mountaineering and cycling. As he puts it, humbly: “I’m a participant in all. Expert in none.”

To lead CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures, Joe moved his wife and six-month-old child from San Francisco, California to Banff, Alberta, to be close to the heart and soul of CMH. “There is so much energy in this company,” he said, explaining his reason for immigrating to take the job, “it doesn’t make sense to be the leader and not be there.”

After a second cup of coffee, he shared a simple three-part plan for, as he put it, “making sure CMH is as successful in the future as it has been in the past.” First, learn as much as possible about the legacy, the present state, and the future potential of CMH; second, dial in the CMH business model to a contemporary, nimble form to match the company’s strong legacy as it moves into the future; and finally, bring greater awareness to the world’s greatest skiing. Joe explained, “We have such a diverse range of guests that we need to customize our voice so it is right for all of them.”

He shared an example of his own learning about the current state of CMH: At the SIA trade show he chatted with Chris Davenport, the visionary skier who has won extreme skiing competitions and skied all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in a single year.  Chris joined CMH Heli-Skiing for a week earlier this season and explained to Joe that before the trip he didn’t think skiing with CMH was his kind of thing.  Chris went on to explain that the experience had exceeded even his expectations: “I was blown away.  It was one of the best skiing experiences I’ve ever had in my life!”

“Even a skier as well-traveled as Chris Davenport didn’t realize what CMH was really all about,” explained Joe, “that means we need to tailor our message a bit better.”

By the time we finished breakfast, I had the strong sense of Joe Flannery’s ultimate goal as President of CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures – to tell the world what CMH is really all about.

Joe concluded with a big smile: “It’s going to be a lot of fun!”

Photo: Joe Flannery (on the right) with CMH General Manager, Rob Rohn, checking out the dreamy ski conditions of this season at CMH Galena. Photo by Mike Welch.

Topics: Ski Heroes, Canada, CMH Heli-Skiing, Staff, Announcements, Banff, Galena, Athletes

CMH Heli-Skiing November Roadshow

Posted by Jane Carswell on Oct 30, 2012 12:12:00 PM

Heli-Skiing in BC Canada with CMH Heli-SkiingHalloween is almost upon us.  The streets and stores are filled with ghosts, goblins and pumpkins, but at CMH our thoughts are focused on the upcoming Heli-Ski season and the reports of early snow fall in the areas is giving us itchy feet.  Twenty cms today in the Cariboos! 


Here's where you can find our team talking shop in the month of November, 2012.  Come on out and check out our new ski film, Ascension:

November 1: Kelowna, BC

Come see CMH K2 Area Manager Peter MacPherson at Fresh Air Concepts from 7-9pm. Details and RSVP.

November 1: San Francisco, CA

If you are south of the boarder you'll find JF Lacombe from the Cariboos with CMH's own Sarah Pearson at The Box from 7-9pm. Details and RSVP.

November 2: Denver, CO

If you didn't get enough of us at our big promo in mid-October, come see CMH Revelstoke Area Manager Steve Chambers and our Colorado rep Brad Nichols at First Friday at the Artwork Network. No RSVP required.

November 2-4: Portland, OR

The original CMH Rep & Legend, Fred Noble will bring his firey passion for skiing to the Portland Ski Fever & Snowboard Show all weekend. No RSVP required.

November 3: Vancouver, BC

Well, it's been ages since we've seen Vancouver, so here we come!  Join JF Lacombe at Skiis & Bikes from 7-9pm. Details and RSVP.

November 8-11: Boston, MA

This year CMH Rep Vicki Reynolds and John Entwistle will be raving about the snow along BC's Powder Highway at the Boston Ski Show. No RSVP required.

November 13: Chicago, IL

Sarah, VIcki and JF Lacombe gather in Chicago to talk skiing with the Windy City.  Join them at Lake Forest Sports Cars for an evening drinks, appetizers and ski movies. Details and RSVP.

November 29: Calgary, AB

A little closer to home, you'll find us at the Calgary Winter Club.  Stay tuned for details.

If we've missed you on this year's tour, drop us a note and we'll see if we can hit a little closer to your home in 2013.  Hope to see you out there!

Topics: CMH Heli-Skiing, Announcements, Roadshow