At the end of January my Dad and I headed north to British Columbia for four days of heli skiing with CMH. We caught the tail end of a week-long cloudy pattern which yielded three days of great powder skiing below treeline and one day in the high alpine. All of it was new for me so I did my best to soak in every aspect of the experience. Heli skiing, though expensive and probably even a tad ridiculous, sure is a wild ride.
Our base of operations for the week was Nakusp, BC, at the K2 Rotor Lodge in the middle of town. The lodge is a ten minute drive from the heli pad and the Nakusp hot springs, which made for a nice apres ski soak on more than one occasion. The lodge itself is simple but caters to guests’ every need, and the cuisine the chefs whip up for breakfast and dinner is nothing short of gourmet. Without going into too much detail, we ate like kings up there.
Aside from providing top notch food and accommodations, CMH runs a tight ship with regards to skiing logistics. They cycle groups through new terrain pretty seamlessly and are dedicated to ensuring untracked powder turns for every guest on virtually every run. It was nice not to have to think much and let our guides do all the heavy lifting, allowing us to just focus on enjoying the experience.
After settling in and going through orientation on the first day we were temporarily shut down by fog and low visibility in the mountains. The grounding didn’t last long though; around noon we were called up to the heli pad and flown to the top of our first run for the day. I picked up on the routine pretty fast – fly, ski, repeat – as we racked up around 13,000 ft of vertical in an afternoon.
For two more days we skied primarily at and below treeline. Even though it hadn’t snowed much the previous week we were still managing to find soft, untracked turns everywhere we went – a testament to the sheer amount and variety of terrain accessible by the helicopter. A small refresh on the 3rd night did wonders for us the following day as we explored some steeper terrain and even got above treeline a few times.
On the final day of our trip the weather cleared and we were treated to 30,000 feet of turns in the high alpine. This was my favorite day of the four. While skiing powder below treeline is a ton of fun, it’s tough to beat the glaciers and wide-open bowls found at higher elevations in the Canadian Rockies. The snow was excellent and the views were just awesome.
We ultimately wound up doing most of our skiing for the day in the outer reaches of K2’s territory. One area in particular, “Kaleidoscope”, hadn’t been skied all season, and each of the three groups got three laps on it before we moved elsewhere.
After lunch (they also flew a lunch helicopter out to our location every day) we changed playgrounds, moving one or two basins to the east, and did a few a laps there in another large alpine bowl known as “Powder One”.
All in all we skied 82,000 feet over three and a half days – a trip for the books and one I’ll never forget. Now it’s time to get back to hiking for powder turns, which may take a bit of getting used to again after having them served up on a platter. But I suppose there are worse problems to have.
Some footage from all four days that I put together:
And lastly, a parting shot: