My memory of planning & booking my first heli skiing trip happened in what seemed like an instant. My oldest skiing friend, Malcolm, had just come back from his first trip with CMH Heli Skiing to the Adamants lodge in British Columbia. He sent me some pictures with a note that said \”Remember we all promised we\’d do it one day? I\’ve just got back and it\’s blown me away. I\’m re-booking for next year, fancy coming?\”.
The envy…. whilst wiping the saliva away from my drooling mouth I ask my wife about going. With a trade off she agrees; she would get three weeks in Burma and I could go heli skiing. Yippeee (I think she was glad to get rid of me for a week).
The call…. and several discussions later (no doubt the Pure Powder heli skiing and off piste team jumping through several hoops), I was signed up & counting down the months, with pleasant dreams of the steep & deep fluffy stuff in the far-off wilderness of British Columbia.
The training …. I was healthy, but not skiing fit so I signed up to the gym close to where I work, beating the living daylights out of my nearing 50 year old frame for an hour every single day. I learnt to cope with daily aches, which I now know means your making progress. 8 months later I was as fit as a Butchers dog, some 10kg lighter and much, much fitter.
The off…. the wait was over, I flew into Calgary for a warm up week at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort (also organised by Pure Powder). I stayed at Vagabond Lodge, a brilliant warm up location and great place to stay. The skiing and conditions were totally outstanding, with empty slopes and fresh snow everyday. My body was now in first gear and my mind raced through the whole gearbox.
The Adamants…. Wow, you arrive by heli, it\’s the start of an amazing skiing adventure, dropping in metres from the lodge. By this stage you\’re mates with almost everyone (& everyone of course loves to ski)…you\’ve been trading stories and now you\’re all going to have one big tale to tell.
The drills…. the safety, the training, it all comes together quickly, you feel safe & honestly staggered by the experience and guidance of the Guides & Pilots. Supper awaits, followed by a glass or too, quick unpack and sleep ready for the big day.
The Mountains…. my first day was bliss, high alpine, high octane, high energy; bluebird skies and a great group from all around the world. The skiing was just part of the whole deal; don\’t get me wrong, its mind blowingly amazing. The terrain, the snow, the scenery, it\’s all so good that when you stop…panting that is, and just look around, you know you\’re in skier\’s heaven.
The friends… you meet like-minded people from all backgrounds and standards of skiing, they all share the same passion for skiing, you leave richer with new friendships & memories of a great experience.
The Epilogue…. well, I did not want to leave and yes, I have been back heli skiing with CMH every year since, and will do so for as long as my wallet and wellbeing allows.
By Craig McCulloch, heli skiing convert…
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