This week’s dream...Helicopter skiing in British Columbia
“Skiing powder is as close as you can get to flying,” said Rachel Walker in The Washington Post. And when you’re helicopter skiing, with a chopper close at hand to ferry you to the most pristine slopes, there’s an unlimited supply of the finest powder imaginable. In early January, I ventured into the mountains of British Columbia with CMH Heli-Skiing, the oldest helicopter-skiing operation in the world. CMH holds exclusive permits to fly skiers into 3 million acres of backcountry just west of Banff. Visitors are grouped according to skill level, and you stay in one of 13 luxury lodges scattered about the 3 million acres, spending your days zipping up and down the mountains, with seasoned pros to guide you. Just the thought of it had me “champing at the bit.”
I feel as if airborne while darting between giant spruce trees, engulfed in swirling powder. Flying off a small cliff that appears in front of me, I land elated. A short chopper trip later, I’m off on another perfect run: starting at the charred remnants of a forest fire and ending in a snowy rock garden. A bitter cold front has settled in, reducing the risk of avalanche, so our guides fly us right to the summits of the highest mountains. We schuss down “steep, open bowls” and through narrow chutes into oldgrowth forests. We start each day early, but it’s worth it: “There are few sights that can compare to sunrise from a pristine peak in the heart of a massive western range.”
Of course, I fully expected the sublime skiing and vistas at CMH. “What surprised me were the connections I made.” Though people often arrange to heli-ski with friends, some friends could be put off by the cost, and there’s always a chance your group will be split up anyway. I made the trip solo, and it was a blessing in disguise. After the breathtaking runs, the shared bottles of wine, and the Ping-Pong tournaments in the lodge’s game room, “I left with new friends from all over the world.”
Seven-day trips with CMH (canadian mountain holidays.com) start at $4,700.