With wipers on full speed, snow-flakes pounding the windscreen and beautiful fresh snow draping everything around us, we knew we were in for a treat. It’s a perfect start for any powder skiing adventure and it was the backdrop for our drive along the ‘powder highway’ from Calgary to Kicking Horse. We could feel it was going to be an epic trip!
I was ‘testing out’ a new Pure Powder Heli Skiing & Resort Skiing trip of ours – 3 days of resort skiing in Kicking Horse followed by 4 days of CMH Heli Skiing’s new K2 Rotor Lodge. It’s a trip designed to maximise off piste skiing whilst keeping the price tag manageable.
I had billed the first 3 days of our trip as a great way to warm-up those ski legs, get over the jet lag and generally get ready for the heli skiing to come. But when you’re faced with 70cm of new snow in 48hrs you have to get busy! And so it was, within a few hours we were heading-up the Highway to Heaven chair and deciding which couloir we would drop into!
By this stage we’d been joined by Steve Fisk who is one of the most experienced instructors at Kicking Horse. Steve has an insatiable energy for skiing which you can’t help but draw on and he proudly showed us the huge variety of terrain on offer. Whilst negotiating Redemption Ridge, we found a spot where we could each enter into the couloir off our own little shelf and enjoy some deep, fresh tracks. We circled around a few times, each pass taking a different route and then ended the day skiing waist deep powder through Heaven’s Door. Wow!
To make the most of the fantastic snow conditions we took a guide on day 2 – Scott from Adrenalin Descents – who was previously a heli ski guide and has vast experience of the area. We had to work a little harder, but an hour of boot-packing up and along the Terminator Ridge earned us an incredible 3,000 vertical feet of un-tracked powder in gorgeous blue skies. We finished off the day skinning up the back of Blue Heaven, past the imposing Whitewall, until we found an impressive deep powder stash guarded by a steep walled couloir. More fresh tracks and more great powder skiing.
After a rest day we then took a 2.5 hour scenic drive west, across the Arrow Lake and arrived at the town of Nakusp for phase two of our powder skiing adventure… 4 days of heli skiing with CMH at their new K2 Rotor Lodge!
And what a 4 days it was… Steep tree skiing on the aptly named ‘Pleasure Centre’ mixed in with some glorious alpine runs on Tina’s to name just a few highlights. With 1,155 square kilometres of exclusive terrain we barely even touched the surface of what heli skiing they have available. There was tons of snow about and with the ski penetration not being too hugely deep it meant fast and furious heli skiing staying on top of our skis! The snow might have been fast but it was still pretty tricky to keep up with K2 Athlete Reggie Crist who had joined us.
One of the benefits of the CMH & K2 hook-up is that on many of the trips there is a K2 athlete thrown in so you can have a good laugh with them and see how you shape up against the pros. The conclusion of my skiing? Apparently slow, after I grabbed Reggie as my ‘tree buddy’ for one run and he snaked through the trees in effortless style – he probably felt like he was going backwards but to me we were flying…
We packed a lot of skiing into our 4 days. Breakfast starts at 7am (preceded by stretching at 6.30am) and we were off skiing by 8am! But these early starts are worth it as every heli ski day we skied just shy of 6,000 vertical metres – which was around 10 helicopter drops. With only 3 groups of skiers to our Bell 212 we had precious little time between runs and certainly got our heli ski fix in during the 4 days.
Throw into the mix the superb food (think tempura prawns, hearty soups and delicious home-made desserts) and the natural hot-springs to relax in every evening and we had ourselves a cracking trip! Returning to the K2 themed bar in the evening to kick back with a Kokanee beer and discuss the day’s adrenalin-fuelled events.
Fancy following in my footsteps? Pure Powder’s heli/resort combo trips start at just £3,200 including your accommodation, transport (except international flights), breakfasts, ski pass and 3 days heli skiing with full board. You will even receive a free pair of 2013/14 K2 skis on your return home! Contact us for heli skiing and resort skiing as we can design the trip to suit you.