As someone who puts together heli-skiing and heli-boarding trips, especially for first timers, I am frequently asked this question or am told, “Oh, I’m not good enough for that.” As for the question, I can’t say for sure because I probably don’t know your level of fitness, your skiing ability or your enthusiasm. As for the second comment, you might just discover you do have the capability! Continue reading
1) You jump out of the helicopter.
This is a very common misconception!
Here is what actually happens: The helicopter lands, the guests get in on one side, the guide loads the skis/boards in a basket on the other. The guide gets in and the machine takes off and flies to the top of the run where it lands, usually in a tried and true landing spot. The guests get out, the guide unloads the skis and boards, and the helicopter takes off. Then everyone rides to the bottom. Repeat. Continue reading
For those of us that are skiers/boarders living in Colorado, the winter of 2011/2012 ranks up there as one of the least snowy in recent memory. Snowpack across the state, with the exception of the very southwest, was well below normal. In fact all of the “Big Three” markets in the US (California, Rocky Mountains and East Coast) reported average snowpacks well below normal. Sometimes one of these areas, or maybe two, have poor winters, but rarely all three at the same time.
My buddy Jim, long time resident of Vail and avid skier, churned all the historical and meteorological data he could find and came to the very scientific conclusion that, “The skiing just sucked this year!”
Enough said on that subject. I’m very fortunate to work for CMH Heli-Skiing, so I was able to save my winter with some unbelievable skiing for a few days at our Kootenay area in eastern BC. It was the first time I’d been there, the terrain was fantastic and it didn’t stop snowing the whole time I was there- I have now idea what the place even looks like! Maybe next time some views will be had. Clearly BC was not suffering the same problems as the lower 48.
One of the biggest lessons of this season is that there is nothing you can do about the weather. It is what it is and there’s no sense getting worked up about it. Usually a poor winter snow-wise is followed by a much better one. We’ll see. In the mean time, the weather is getting warmer and soon there will be great riding and hiking to be done in those same mountains. See you on the trail!
Aaaah, heli-skiing. Visions of wide-open untracked glacier runs under sunny skies, spectacular mountain views that seem to go forever, mature forests caked with snow, pristine wilderness with no one around. A natural winterscape at it’s finest: white, untouched, wild and quiet…
But before you get to this, you have to take a ride in a helicopter. And an operating helicopter is not exactly quiet. It’s like sitting directly underneath a jet engine, which is exactly what you’re doing. In the case of most of CMH’s machines, you’re actually sitting underneath twin jet engines, which provide an extra measure of safety. It can be a bit loud in the warm interior of a Bell 212, the workhorse of helicopter skiing, but the unmatched mobility is way more than worth it.
The simple solution, of course, is to have hearing protection- usually ear plugs or headphone-type ear protectors. This makes the ride much more pleasant so you can comfortably enjoy the views, have a drink of water and get yourself ready for that next fantastic run.
There are always those that choose not to use ear protection and they seem be perfectly happy. Perhaps my ears are more sensitive than others. Either way, just flying around in the helicopter is spectacular. But it’s what happens after you land that is the true magic- there aren’t words to describe how much fun that is!
Enjoy this video.
October 16, 2012, Arapahoe Basin, Colorado.
Halfway up the lift, I’m wondering what I’m doing there. Hardly any terrain open and too many people!
But man, what a beautiful day! Like I’ve been here before or living a recent dream. This is a day I’ve seen before. What is going on? Hardly ever ski in October- who wants to ski on the white ribbons of death? Maybe it’s the cold; it feels like winter. No, it’s more than that. What is it?
The angle of the sun! That’s it. Let’s see, the winter solstice is on December 21st, so we are two months and five days away. That same amount of time on the other side of the solstice and the sun would be at the same angle as today. And that day would be February 26th, my birthday and favorite day to ski!