XXX-(XXX)-XXXX. Imagine this being a Canadian phone number that calls you shortly before 7 am. „Ring, ring!“ Below the number, the display shows the name of the contact I saved this number to: STHS Dispatch. The time has come. There was a free seat for me on one of the multiway groups so I was able to go helicopter skiing today, February fifth.
It was not the first day for me, I already had a day a couple of weeks ago, but that one was, except for flying with a helicopter for the first time, rather unspectacular. Because I am a staff member of Selkirk Tangiers Heliskiing I have to accept certain responsibilities. Generally, I always stay at the end of the group, on the one hand, to not take any fresh powder lines from the paying guests and on the other hand to monitor the completeness of the group and to help guests that may get stuck or got into any other kind of trouble. So on this first day, the conditions were far away from perfect and I mostly spent my time with helping and monitoring rather than cruising elegantly through the powder. But anyways, the season was still long and there would definitely be other opportunities.
And now there was one. I quickly packed my stuff together, took a bite for breakfast and made my way up to the Hillcrest Hotel, my workplace, where Selkirk Tangiers Heliskiing is based at. The excitement grew within every minute I drove because since two weeks there hasn’t been a day the sun was shining, but today it was and the summits of Mount Begbie and Mount MacPhearson were glowing in the golden morning light. I don’t believe it, do I really get some sun for today or what?
In the hotel, I quickly grabbed a transceiver, avalanche gear, skis and my super fancy staff jacket before we started. Let’s go Heliskiing!
At first, we still had to drive about twenty minutes to today’s staging area, during which I talked to Kate, who was guiding the group. The members of the group I already knew a bit, as I had the pleasure to welcome them during my last working shifts. Five Norwegians, three guests from the US and next to them also Noah, who was also working for Selkirk Tangiers in the dispatch. Having arrived at the helipad at Alberts, once more, some patches of blue sky emerged from the clouds, which could only be a good sign. And we finally started.
Below the thundering of the helicopter’s rotors, we lifted off the ground and were flying to our first run in the Selkirk River Valley, close to the place where 40 years ago Selkirk Tangiers Heliskiing started its first missions. As already mentioned Noah and me had the responsibility to stay at the end of the group what was only little of a problem today, as there was enough powder for everyone. It’s been just phenomenal! Everything matched on that day. The group was great, the powder was at least knee-deep and here and there the sunrays heated up the cold, clear air. Everyone had fun! At every second!
When I was out heliskiing the first time, we only managed to do four runs because of the inconsistency of the group and the difficult conditions. Today, however, we already had done four runs by lunchtime. All of them through feathery powder, that sometimes even shot up to our faces in the turns. Due to critical avalanche conditions in the high alpine we mostly spent time below the tree line, however, the terrain of Selkirk Tangiers offers fabulous tree skiing.
After those four runs, the three groups that were sharing today’s helicopter met for lunch. Time to have a small chat here, talk some words over there and, oh, hey, there’s the five Germans that were in Cece’s group and who also came from Munich like I do. Especially for them, it was great to have a German employee out there in the wilderness.
After everyone strengthened up with some soup, sandwiches, and pastries we skied on. There was still a lot of powder waiting for us. Four more runs to be precise, which could all be described with a single word: perfection. Everyone pushed even more after lunch and enjoyed the sun, that came out more and more often now, before, at around 3 pm, the helicopter picked us up again and brought us back to the base.
From this day on I had a hundred, no, a thousand times more understanding for people to spend so much money for heliskiing. This feeling, once you got dropped off by the helicopter and realize to be alone in the wilderness, floating through the fresh powder, is absolutely unique. Like being in a dream. It couldn’t get better…
…I thought in the evening of that day. But it got better.
The next morning I woke up early, as always, as I was still on the staff list for heliskiing. My hopes to get another call were very little, the chances just too low.
„Ring, Ring!“ XXX-(XXX)-XXXX. There it was again! The STHS Dispatch was calling again. And to make things even better, this time, I got requested by Cece to go with the Germans. Isn’t that fantastic?
Alright, the same procedure as the day before. Pack the things, get the equipment and here we go. Again, the sky brightened up from time to time. Actually, there was a snowstorm announced for today, but luckily there was no trace of that one visible right now. Once more, we entered the helicopter, which flew us up along the mountain forests towards the glowing peaks in the morning sun. What was going on here? more and more of the clouds disappeared and we flew further and further up into the high alpine. I was literally sticking to the window of the helicopter to take photos and videos because otherwise, nobody would believe any of my words about this trip. We were in paradise! Such a breathtaking beauty of the Canadian winter I have never before seen in my whole life. Paradise actually described this place very well, as we did the first there runs of the day in the direct vicinity of the paradise glacier. That day we witnessed scenes like in a movie, like from another world. Nobody could believe that we had such a luck with the weather. Everything seemed surreal.
Ihre runs we could ski in this incredible scenery before oncoming clouds forced us to go further down again. But anyways, fabulous tree skiing was waiting for us. Only one more run and it was already time for lunch again. Once more a good opportunity to have a chat with the five Germans but also with the two US Americans who were competing the group. Even the slowly starting snowfall didn’t spoil our good mood.
After lunch, which took place a bit earlier today than usual, we managed to do another six runs, mostly above the treelike again, as the snowfall stopped again and the visibility was great. In the end, we almost skied 7500 vertical meters. By comparison, the day before we „only“ skied about 4800 vertical meters. Especially the long runs in the alpine helped us today to ski so much vertical.
Exhausted, but nevertheless super happy we arrived at the hotel in the evening. This gave me the perfect opportunity to have a beer together with the guys from Munich in a real Bavarian manner and to wish them a great remaining time of their heliskiing adventure. Here I want to thank you guys for the beer and the pictures of that day.
For me, life goes on its normal way from here. A bit more work as the month before, a lot of skiing in the Revelstoke Mountain Resort and hopefully soon another day of heliskiing. What a life!
I went out Heliskiing on Friday of this week again, so there’s a couple of photos from that day here as well. Enjoy the photos!