I’ve been a skier now for 38 years, but I haven’t always been a powder-chaser. That conversion happened when I moved north (of the wall) to Canada, where steeper mountains keep faces mogul-free, and prodigious snowfalls at resorts like Fernie and Fortress Mountain (now reincarnated as KPOW, a cat skiing operation) mean frequent fresh tracks.
Still, I didn’t add “heli-ski” to the bucket list until 2001, when a cat skiing trip to Revelstoke opened my eyes to powder possibilities beyond resort boundaries: All that space! No tracks! Steeeep! It was powder porn, and addictive. So when Canadian Mountain Holidays, the company that invented heli-skiing 50 years ago, invited me on a media day trip (the company offered one week of single day trips for the first time this year) out of Revelstoke, I felt the dream was within reach.
The best part — after the knee-deep, cold smoke, virtually effortless pow-pow, and my first terrifying-yet-thrilling helicopter powder landing — was that I got to experience heli-skiing with hubby Blake, my powder buddy (he got to tag along after paying the day rate). I’ll be writing about our epic experience for WestJet Magazine, but here are some highlights.
Snow deep: I mean really deep. Our last run down a steep treed pitch called High Roller (because, for one day only, that’s, well…) sent me bouncing over powdery pillows and into snowy troughs where the snow was, I swear, thigh deep.
Seat with a view: So the chopper ride was quick, but oh, the views! Acres of untouched snow punctuated by snow-toqued spruce trees and shadowed by the imposing peaks of the Monashees.
Bluebird day: Blue sky and deep powder. ‘Nuff said.
Cool mountain town: Revelstoke is awesome, mixing the right amount of historic charm with modern amenities like hotels with all-important hot tubs. The Regent, CMH’s Revelstoke base, is downtown, has an excellent restaurant and there’s a liquor store selling Mt. Begbie beer right next door!
One for the bucket list: It’s funny how checking off a bucket list item can actually spawn new additions to the very same list. Now that I’ve experienced one day of heli-skiing, I’m penciling in a new goal: an extended heli trip to one of CMH’s remote backcountry lodges. In the land of pristine glaciers, dare to dream, right?