If we haven’t been writing here lately, it’s because we’ve been tits deep in snow here in Whistler, buried in a massive mid-March storm cycle that has us nearly drowning. (And yes, we measured: it’s tits deep.)
But all this snow has me dreaming of a heli trip back over a month ago, up in Smithers at Last Frontier Heli-Skiing, where I joined up with the Salomon Freeski TV crew of Cody Townsend and Chris Rubens. Bryn Hughes was snapping and Jeff Thomas was filming the gig while I lounged around and froze my toes off watching Chris and Cody throw down smooth lines of confidence in truly spectacular high alpine terrain. You can check out Bryn’s blog post and a few pics here.
There’s a few ways to go heli-skiing. Once you have the coin saved up, I’d suggest with an honest heart to head out to a place such as Last Frontier. The terrain is second to none, spanning both the Coast and Skeena Ranges, brushing up against the Stikine Plateau and Mount Edziza Provincial Park. This means that even when the weather or conditions don’t cooperate (I was there during some challenging times), there are so many elevations and aspects that good snow can be found somewhere. Second, Last Frontier uses Eurostar A-stars, a small, agile yet powerful bird. You are riding in small groups of four to five, which means this is not heli-skiing by schoolbus. This is the raw deal—massive glaciers, huge peaks, dream trees, from stump runs and mellow cruisers to steeps and chutes. And last but not least, the Bell 2 Lodge is a truly beautiful place to sleep down—and in the middle of near nowhere.
Besides the delicious food and hot tub times, of all the things I miss it’s just climbing into the bird every morning to chow down on untracked lines. It’s real addictive, worse than the most pricey powder out there (all the snow & that other kind of blower). Once you get fished in for heli, you never go back. That kind of metaphor.
Well, the full piece will be out in the Ski Journal next year, a fine publication of beautiful spread photography and crafty words. Stay tuned — and in the meantime, dream heli.