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HELI-SKIING - IT'S EASIER THAN YOU THINK

MY CMH HELI-SKIING ADVENTURE

 
Johns 50thLast year I visited my brother John, at his CMH Heli-ski lodge in the Cariboo’s and a whole new world opened up for me.  Heli-skiing in the Alpines was something that I couldn’t even have imagined.  The friends I made, the support of the guides and the amazing food was all part of the experience.

 

I had always pictured heli-skiing for the extreme, but saw quickly that it is something suited for many levels and abilities.  It is safe, fun and an adventure that anyone with a passion for skiing should experience.

 

After that trip, I was approached by John to look at representing CMH in BC.   After much consideration, I felt it a great fit with the TWC.  Pilates is the foundation from which movement, fun and sport evolves.  A Pilates lifestyle is one that takes us out in life to enjoy new possibilities and opportunities with a healthy fit body.

Just last week, I was invited by CMH, along with colleague Steve Dietrich, for some product testing in 2 of the lodges.  To be treated as guest and experience CMH newly.

 

DAY 1

March 21, 2015

Leading into the trip, I was nervous.  I haven’t skied much in the last 20 years. 
Picture3Questions like “can I do it?”, “will I be able to keep up or will I hold people up?” “will I be safe?”,  all came to mind.

My first lodge was the Bobby Burns lodge located 30 minutes south of Golden.  Friday was a travel day.  I drove to Golden where CMH arranged the hotel.  It was easy to find, very clean and quiet.

The directions to the heli-pad were emailed to me and very clear.  There was no stress or worry in finding the heli-pad.  It was a quick 30 minute drive.

The Bobby Burns Lodge is a remote lodge, meaning you can only get there by helicopter.  From Vancouver, it is easy to drive, but those travelling by plane were picked up in Calgary and brought out on a bus.  They had snacks, watched the safety heliski movie and relaxed.

 

Upon arrival at the lodge by helicopter, we were greeted by the lodge manager and the area manager.  We were directed to give our ski boots to the technician who would fit our skies.  Along with the 33 other guests, we were shown around and then left to relax.

 

We had lunch and then headed outside for the helicopter safety talk by our pilot and then to our guide for the avalanche safety and search talk.

 

The first day is supposed to be an afternoon ski day, but due to weather, the ski day was cancelled.  I went to the fitness room instead.  I used the spin bike and did some of my own stretching.  The fitness room is large, bright and clean with a beautiful view of the mountains.

At 7pm, the dinner bell rings.  The guides sit with the guests and serve the dinner.  Right away it felt like family.  There were people from all over the world - many languages, one passion = skiing.  There were first timers at heli-skiing while others who have done this many times before.  Everyone was open and supportive.  Conversation easy and relaxed.johns 50th + pm's

The area manager (lead guide and lodge manager) spoke to us about how the schedule works, what we can expect.  The entire staff then introduced themselves.  Before anyone could even ask a question, the answer was given.  This is a finely tuned machine!

Some people travelled alone, while others came with one friend or several.  Either way, everyone was welcomed and everyone embraced each other, so ultimately, no one was alone.

By 9pm, I went to bed with excitement of the day ahead.

 

DAY 2 –FIRST DAY OF SKIING
I am an early bird, it was quiet and still dark outside, but the coffee is always on.  I went to the sitting area, where a beautiful fire was burning in the fireplace, staff was quietly getting set up for the morning.  I had my coffee and enjoyed an early morning read and relaxation.

 
IMG_0216At 7:15 the bell gently rings through the halls to wake up the guests and for those who chose, attended a stretch class at 7:30am.  8am, breakfast is served – healthy, fresh and plenty of it.

By 9am the groups start heading to the helicopter ready for a day of skiing.

The first day was amazing.  I was nervous when I stepped out of the helicopter for our first run, but was also speechless from the amazing view of the alpines. 
Our first ski down, I was unsure.  I had not skied on powder for a year and the technique is much different.  The other skiers were experienced but perfectly suited to me.  They were relaxed, taking their time and supporting each other. 

 

A guest named Werner from Switzerland, took me under his wing and gave me some tips.  By the end of the day I was skiing well and having a blast.

 

DAY 3 – 2ND DAY OF SKIING
The morning weather didn’t look great.  The guides thought we’d start, but warned us that if the TRACKSweather didn’t clear up, we may have to come back.  We got dressed and into the helicopter we went.

 

By the 2nd run, the sky opened up and it was beautiful blue sky with fresh snow.  My self- appointed coach, Werner, continued to give me coaching tips, and each run I felt the flow and ease of powder skiing more and more.

 

LunchLunch is served in the Alpines.  Fresh sandwiches, soup, homemade cookies and fresh vegetables.  Bliss! 

Cmh bobby burnsThen end of this ski day, marked the end of our tour of Bobby Burns lodge.  By 5pm, it was time to head to our next CMH experience in Revelstoke.  We were whisked off by helicopter and taken back to our car.  The other guests still had 5 more days of enjoying the Bobby Burns lodge.

 

DAY 4 & 5 – 3RD & 4th DAY OF SKIING

IMG_0264The Revelstoke operation is based out of a hotel right in town and is a 5 day program.  The systems however are the exact same as the Bobby Burns lodge, so within minutes I felt right at home.

 We had dinner with Erich Unterberger, the lead guide of all of CMH.  We learned about the guiding program, safety training and philosophy of CMH.  As we sat at our private table, I looked around at all of the other skiers smiling, laughing and recapping their day of skiing with each other.  Most people came either by themselves or with one other friend, but in looking around, it appeared like everyone had been friends for life.

The next morning, I was up and ready for stretch class at 6:30am.  By 8am, we were dressed and on our way to the helipad.  I was much more comfortable now.  I knew I could ski well and on any terrain. 

We had 2 more amazing days of skiing.  Our group had a variety of levels, but all suited to each other.

When I look back at my earlier concerns, I smile at myself. 

Can I do it?  - Absolutely.  I felt safe the entire time.  The guides are amazing.  They take their time, never rush us.  Both the guides and guests all look out for one another.
Am I safe? – CMH is safety first.  The guides while fun, are clear in their instructions and firm when they need to be.
Did I hold up my group? No.  I was placed in the perfect group.
 

CONSIDERING A TRIP WITH CMH?

1. If you are considering a heli-ski trip but have never skied deep powder, CMH has a program called POW 101.  This program takes you through the week and teaches you to ski powder.  There are two guides with one at the front of the group and one at the back.  CMH has 11 lodges in BC , all offering this program on different weeks.
 

2. In one lodge, there are different groups of different abilities.  So if you travel with a friend or spouse who is at a different level, you are both cared for.  If you want to ski together for an afternoon or day later in the week, the guides will arrange it.

3. Be in shape.  It’s more fun if your body is strong.  I can certainly help you with that.
 

WHAT I’M COMING HOME WITH

IMG_0268_copyI’m coming home with a huge sense of accomplishment and pride.  A knowing that I did something that scared me and I did it well.  My legs are stronger, I’m a confident skier and the smile on my face says it all. 

 

The skiing is only one of the things that makes CMH special.  The friends you meet, the incredible food you enjoy, and the mountains you are in all contribute to the best vacation of a lifetime.

 

The TWC Pilates & Health is the BC Representation for CMH heli-skiing and Heli-hiking adventures.  Call me at 604.617.0087 or lmallard@cmhinc.com for more information.  I’d love to share my passion for adventures with you.

 

 

 


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