Pure Powder's Ski Blog

Call +44 (0)20 7736 8191


A Day in the Life of a Heli Skier: Part I – Heli Skiing Prep

Many thanks to Pure Powder & CMH guest Craig McCulloch for the following article on his CMH Heli Skiing trip in March 2013…

Every passionate skier, dreams of bluebird days, deep powder and pristine mountain landscapes, void of people.

When I was 17 my every waking moment was spent skiing, or dreaming it. One day the owner of the mountaineering shop I worked in said ‘put this up in the window’ It read; ‘Canadian Mountain Holidays in association with Pure Powder (PSNA) present Heli High‘. I was captivated. I went along to the presentation with some friends and we all sat spellbound, watching a small group of skiers carve perfect turns in a waist-deep powder-filled wilderness. We all promised then and there that we had to do this.

I had to wait 30 years for my first experience. Malcolm, one the friends that I shared that evening with, sent me a picture postcard of him getting into a helicopter with a massive smile on his face, simply saying ‘done it, you must join me next year’. I did and I’ve been back every year since.

I get asked a lot by fellow skiers what it’s like to go heli skiing with Pure Powder and CMH. Honestly it’s an unimaginably, brilliant experience that is hard to explain. This is why I’ve put a few videos together to give a ‘punters’ eye view of what it’s like. I promise you; book a trip, experience it and you will be hooked.

Sheer excitement…..

After 12 months of waiting, Malcolm and I find ourselves stepping into the Delta Calgary Airport Hotel where we’re welcomed by grins from CMH staff at check-in. I check in, tag and bag one ski boot, choose my preferred skis from their extensive selection, knowing that in the morning everything will be awaiting for me at the original heli skiing lodge, the Bugaboos.

Malcolm and I head for the bar to look for Enrique and his brother Daniel; we skied with Enrique and his wife a few years back and on this trip his brother is losing his CMH virginity. After a few beers and stories, we part ways for the night.

Early doors, the 5:30am breakfast is gulped down –  the excitement is high as we all get on the bus for the two hour journey to the Heli-staging area. We’re 15 minutes away when the safety video starts playing, setting the scene for all the avalanche, heli and safety drills we’ll be doing later.

We arrive at 9:00, where the guides and lodge staff are busily loading a helicopter with our bags for the first trip. They smile and give the thumbs up against the noise of rotors as our Bell 212 takes to the sky.

We’re appointed to a load group for the heli transfer and as we load up I look at Daniel’s face. It’s a picture of amazement, even though we’ve spent the last two hours telling him how brilliant this is going to be.

We buzz across the pristine mountain landscape to the tune of the rotor blades, which echo as we drop towards the lodge landing zone. This is it, another powder adventure begins. As we enter the lodge Leanna, the head of housekeeping, greets us all and briefs us on safety drill times. (this unassuming girl telemarks deep powder effortlessly at high speed).

 

Safety first…

Once we’ve sorted out our kit in our rooms, we all meet for safety drills. First we get helicopter inductions; how to approach, load and unload, close and open doors and emergency safety features – all are covered with a light hearted touch of humour.

Next we have some practical drills on mountain safety which include beacon locator operations, personal radio controls and of course avalanche drills which covers location, recover probing and shovelling.

Back at the lodge a light lunch awaits, (CMH hospitality means it’s actually massive…), before getting our things together and meeting in our groups for a afternoon of amazing skiing.

…then fun

We scrabble to get our gear on in the big, heated kit drying room. I pick my skis up, checking they have my name on them, (they will be mine for the week), and walk, dragging them as shown in the drills, to the heli pick-up outside the lodge.

The heli’s rotor blades are idling, as we check in with our guide Hans for the day. Hans checks our beacon locators and then we bindle our skis in a pile for loading.

My tummy is ready to explode with excitement, as we head up to the high alpine with blue-bird skies. We land on ‘Pearl’ one of the highest routes in the Bugs, and get our skis on. We track across 100m before it drops into our majestic first tracks of the week. With wild yelping and hoots of joy the adventure begins…

 

See what the rest of a week heli skiing looks like – Part II of Craig’s trip to follow!

If Craig’s experience calls your name as it once did his, call us on +44 (0) 207 736 8191 or email us for heli skiing advice and planning.

Photos courtesy of CMH Heli Ski Guide / Photographer Geoff MacPherson.

Posted by: Claire Matheson

Top Resorts for your Heli Ski Warm Up in Canada

The Telegraph listed their Top Ten Ski Resorts in Canada, among them was some of our favourites for pre-heli ski warm up.  They are great destinations to try out that famous Canadian powder before you embark on your heli skiing adventure with CMH.   Revelstoke Revelstoke is a small town but is the perfect place […]

Posted by: Georgie Knox

Heli Skiing for First Timers – What are my Options?

Embarking on a heli skiing trip for the first time can be daunting and so we wanted to highlight some options specifically geared towards first time heli skiers. If you are a strong piste skier, have a decent level of fitness and are keen to start skiing in the powder then heli skiing could be […]

Posted by: Charlie Brooksbank

Heli Skiing in Canada: 4 reasons why it’s special

If you’ve ever wondered why 95% of the world’s heli skiing operators are based in Canada check out our 4 reasons why heli skiing in Canada is a must for everyone’s bucket lists. ONE// TERRAIN They say size doesn’t matter, but in the case of heli skiing, Canada’s sheer scale makes it the perfect place […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Pure Powder’s Skiing Resort Guide: Silver Star

Location: Located in the stunning Okanagan Valley, Silver Star is British Colombia’s third largest ski and is an unspoiled paradise where you can expect the famous champagne powder we all know and love.  The varied terrain spreads over the 3,282 acres (1,328 hectares) and attracts every kind of skier. Getting there:  Silver Star is extremely […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Pure Powder’s Skiing Resort Guide: Sun Peaks

Location:  Having added two new Alpine zones to their ski area in the 2014/2015 season, Sun Peaks has become the second biggest ski area in Canada, behind Whistler.  It is the perfect warm up destination for anyone who is heli skiing at CMH’s Cariboos Lodge. Getting there:  Easily accessible, Sun Peaks is about a 50-minute […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

How is snow formed?

As skiers we are obsessed with those tiny little flakes falling from the sky – constantly on the lookout for the next powder dump and eagerly awaiting those cold mornings when you wake up to find a white blanket covering everything and the perfect powder skiing conditions! But a question we often ask ourselves is […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Do I have to break the bank to go heli skiing in Canada?

Floating through knee-deep powder with only your buddies to keep you company.  A helicopter waiting at the bottom of each run.  Being whisked up to the top of another glorious powder filled peak.  That’s what dreams are made of – but the key question is do you have to break the bank to make making […]

Posted by: Charlie Brooksbank

The Top 5 Heli Ski Lodges in the World

Pure Powder have put together their top five heli ski lodges in the world.   ONE// Deplar Farm, Iceland This first-class, modern lodge, located on Iceland’s Troll Peninsula, is a remote retreat ideal for thrill seeking heli skiers who enjoy the finer things in life.  As well as epic heli ski lines down to the […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Pure Powder’s Skiing Resort Guide: Big White

Location: The third largest ski resort in British Columbia, Big White, is sandwiched between the Okanagan Valley and the Monashee Mountain range.  It has a fantastic reputation for its first-rate powder as it receives an average annual snowfall of 750cm. Getting there:  West Jet and Air Canada run daily flights to Kelowna Airport via Calgary […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

The Ultimate Ski Bucket List – Telegraph October 2016

Canadian Mountain Holidays named one of The Telegraph’s Ultimate Ski Bucket List: ‘The tension of waiting for the weather to break, the expectation as the helicopter rotors begin to spin, the eagle’s eye view of pristine wilderness peaks as you’re flown 
to the drop zone, the deep, dry snow you get to ride… all of […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Heli Skiing in Iceland – An Adventure of a Lifetime

The Telegraph have named heli skiing in Iceland one of their 50 adventures of a lifetime. ‘Ski from the mountain peaks down to the sea or fly-fish for salmon in glacial rivers accessed only by helicopters. You’ll be staying at Deplar Farm, the ultimate wilderness retreat located in a remote valley in north-west Iceland, surrounded […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Pure Powder Sponsoring London Screening of ‘Ruin and Rose’

Come and join us on Friday 11th November at The Ham Yard Hotel, Central London for an exclusive viewing of MSP Films newest movie “Ruin and Rose”. We are absolutely delighted to be sponsoring “Ruin and Rose” alongside Surefoot London for the second year in a row.  This new 4K HD definition film features jaw-dropping action […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Pure Powder’s Top 10 Ski Blogs

Back in November 2010 we blogged about the ‘best ski blogs in the business’ and now, after some extensive research and deliberation we bring you our newest, hottest top 10 list… These blogs are set to bring you the latest news, fashionable destinations and first-rate tips and advice.  They are 100% guaranteed to whet your […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Pure Powder’s CMH Heli Skiing UK Tour – October 2016

CMH Heli Skiing Presentations:  For over 35 years,  Pure Powder have been the exclusive UK representatives of CMH Heli Skiing in Canada – the largest heli ski operator in the world.   Each year Pure Powder team up with one of the CMH heli ski mountain guides and set about spreading the love for powder skiing on a […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Summer Adventures in Western Canada

When you think of Western Canada you think of winter.  You think of the cold and the rain and the snow.  What you may not realise is that a summer in the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta is like no other, there are so many activities to choose from, and it is breathtakingly beautiful! […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Heli Skiing in Chile – 5 Things You Shouldn’t Miss

If you’re missing the snow this summer, fear not – there is plenty of the deep powder skiing to be had in the Southern Hemisphere.  And arguably the best place to ski in summer is the central Chilean Andes; famed for it’s consistent (and big) storms and endless terrain this is explorative heli skiing at […]

Posted by: Zillah Bell

Pure Powder feature in ‘In the Snow’

Heli skiing can seem like an impossible dream to many of us. You’ve seen the glossy magazine pictures, perhaps watched a video, but could you really do it yourself?  Most are happy on the piste, but never really see the “wow” factor of off-piste (which seems more like hard work!), and may never have the […]

Posted by: Charlie Brooksbank

Pure Powder and CMH feature in Fall Line Magazine

Pure Powder and CMH feature twice in April 2015 ski magazine Fall Line.  “Heli-skiing: the ultimate trip of a lifetime.  Fresh lines all day, zero uphill effort, floating through bottomless pow, blah blah blah: sound alright.  Which is why my ski-mad husband and I used the excuse of ‘winter honeymoon’ to book this extravagant and […]

Posted by: Charlie Brooksbank

CMH feature in Fall Line Magazine: A Day in the Life of Doug Dykeman

‘Nobody knows the vast, shreddable terrain of Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) – which marks 50 years in heli-skiing last winter – better than Alpine’s chief pilot, whose precision landings have delivered trillions of vertical feet of thigh-deep fun’ To get your hands on the gripping article which takes you into ‘a day in the life of… […]

Posted by: Charlie Brooksbank

Pure Powder and CMH Heli Skiing in the FT Weekend Magazine

Pure Powder and CMH Heli Skiing were featured in the 16-page ski special ‘Pink Snow’ article which celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of heli skiing.  We took Tom Robbins with us to Canada in order to uncover what all the hype about skiing with a helicopter is. “It is dark when we turn alongside the Columbia […]

Posted by: Charlie Brooksbank