The countdown is on, the holidays are almost upon us. There is already a winter chill in the air and Jack Frost is nipping at all of our toes. Decorations are being hung and Christmas tree lots are springing up everywhere. The Christmas season and holidays around this time of year are truly about giving and looking at the sheer joy in someone’s face as you have shared some holiday charity with them. Since you are reading this blog it can be assumed that you or someone that you love has a deep interest in helicopter skiing or snowboarding. Imagine this…
Imagine the look of surprise when your loved one opens up a gift beneath the tree to find a polar fleece Arcteryx Great Canadian Heli Skiing fleece shirt inside. They are sure to try it on for size right there and then and they might start to imagine all those steeps and deeps.
Now imagine them crying with happiness when they find out they got it because it means you bought them a heli ski trip of a lifetime!
Amazement…Shock…Joy…these words best describe the feelings that a loved one would have if you put them in that situation.
When it comes to gift giving, memories last a lifetime and they tend to be the best gifts you can give. If your loved one is hooked on the sport then maybe you should give the gift of helicopter skiing down some of the best powdery slopes ever.
Our staff of helicopter pilots and ski guides can help make their dreams come true. You can also rest safely knowing that each night they will be staying in a warm and comfortable room in our lodge with a staff of chefs and hospitality professionals at their fingertips. This means that they will be treated as family and we will make sure they are well fed and ready for each day on those gorgeous mountains.
If this has pulled on your heart strings and you know that your loved one will remember this forever then we suggest calling Deane at 250.344.2326 midweek or contacting us through our email at email@example.com in order to know more or arrange the purchase of a gift certificate.
With your minimum purchase of a $1000 gift certificate towards one our heli skiing packages you will receive an arcteryx fleece sweater. We will mail you the arteryx fleece with our logo so you can put it under your Christmas Tree or come up with your own way to surprise your loved one over the holidays.
I suggest calling Deane at (250) 344.2326 or contacting Great Canadian Heli Skiing at their email firstname.lastname@example.org in order to know more or arrange the purchase of a package or a gift certificate.
With a minimum purchase of a $1000 gift certificate towards one their heli skiing packages I will receive an arcteryx fleece sweater. They will mail the arteryx fleece with their logo so you can put it under the Christmas Tree or come up with your own way to surprise me!
It has been said by many that “a great picture says a thousand words.”
It can evoke feelings that provoke the senses. Photos can capture the feelings associated with a stitch of time that cannot be recreated. So why is this important when it comes to heli skiing?
We urge you to bring along your DSLR cameras, video equipment, Go Pro helmet and pole mounted cameras and your hopefully waterproof and cold resistant point and shoot cameras when coming on an adventure with us. You may just capture some of the most mesmerizing photos and videos that you will ever take.
At Great Canadian Heli Skiing we help our clients live out their dreams and we are in the business of helping our clients create some of their most exciting memories that they will have in their lifetimes.
It is great to talk about these memories over a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night a few years later, but with so much digital photography equipment at your disposal, it would be even nicer to pull out some shots that will shock and amaze your friends for years to come.
Recently, local photographer Bruno Long that is from Revelstoke shared with us that he ended up with his photo on the cover of Backcountry Magazine. It is an amazing silhouetted uphill shot of Jake Teuton in some deep powder as he descends some of the steeps that our guides took them to when they visited us. It truly captures the tranquility that experienced from a remote mountain location and the exhilaration of first tracks that heli skiing can provide.
Bruno Long photo featuring Great Canadian Heli Skiing terrain
So if you are a budding shutterbug or a seasoned photographer that cleans your lenses every night in hopes that you will take amazing pics the next day, we may have just what you are looking for.
You can capture sensational photos that will cause your friends jaws to drop when they see them.
If you are really lucky and you are dedicated to becoming a published photographer for skiing and snowboarding, we urge you to practice your craft with us this season.
You will find more information in our packages section of the website below
Located just 316km (189 miles) from the Calgary International Airport in beautiful British Columbia, Heather Mountain Lodge is set in an idyllic spot perfect for a getaway any time of year. From heli-skiing to weddings and everything in between, Heather Mountain Lodge offers friendly staff, personalized service, and comfortable guest rooms. In the summer, the lodge hosts weddings, hiking enthusiasts and travelers looking for an alternative to the regular hotels in nearby Golden and Revelstoke. During the winter season, it is exclusively reserved for our heli-skiing guests.
The moment you set foot into Heather Mountain Lodge, you’ll realize you have arrived at a very special place. The craftsmanship and design are clearly reminiscent of a bygone era. Beautiful, massive fir and larch beams are pinned together with oak and mahogany dowels and the exposed joinery techniques are a tribute to the timber frame craft. The large, vaulted ceiling dining room offers panoramic vistas of the rugged Selkirk Mountains to enjoy while sipping your morning coffee, visiting with friends or fellow guests or simply relaxing after your day’s activities.
In addition to the 23 recently re-decorated guest rooms, there are two brand new private cabins featuring a wood burning stove, an incredible view of Glacier National Park and a deep soaker tub.
But the best part about Heather Mountain Lodge? Is it the gorgeous timber frame design, incredible panoramic views of the Selkirk Mountains or the outdoor hot tub and sauna? While there are many things we LOVE about the lodge, our favourite part has to be the food!
In-house chef Dan Bracko creates gourmet meals inspired by the traditional fare served in Banff and Golden over the last hundred years. Heli-skiing guests are treated to multi-course meals, sometimes with wine pairings, with gourmet dishes that could easily be found in high-end restaurants. Summer guests enjoy lighter meals with fresh local ingredients as the star of the meal.
Read more about Chef Dan’s story in this article published by the Calgary Herald:
During the off season we’re afforded some much needed downtime – time that is usually spent thinking about, planning for and counting down to the following season! This summer is no exception and we’ve recently been researching the best boutique heli-skiing operations around the world to be able to share some great destinations and as a check that we’re providing a world class experience to our guests.
But it got us thinking…what does ‘boutique’ really mean and is it better? The word boutique was borrowed from the hotel trend that evolved out of the 1980s, to describe hotels which often contain luxury facilities, intimate settings with full service accommodations. Boutique hotels have typically been unique properties operated by individuals or companies with a small collection. These hotels really differentiated themselves by providing attention to the individual guest and focused on offering their services in a comfortable, intimate, and welcoming setting, so they are very unlikely to be found amongst the homogeneity of large hotels.
We saw what we did at Great Canadian Heli-Skiing to be much of the same. The word, boutique, as it is related to boutique hotels, is what we had been doing since the company’s inception in 1988, we just did not have a name for it, as we were the only ones doing it. It was not until 1996 when the first company came along and replicated the Great Canadian Heli-Skiing model. In 2000 two more competing companies joined the ranks, even referencing “Great Canadian Heli-Skiing model” in their business plans to describe how they were going to operate. So in 2001, Great Canadian Heli-Skiing coined the phrase “Boutique Heli-Skiing” to describe the most significant trend in the industry to occur in the past 20 years.
However, just like in the hotel business, the successes of “boutique heli-skiing” have prompted the large companies to take notice try to establish their own “boutique” products in order to capture a market share. So the question is begged, what makes a heli-skiing boutique, and is it better.
Probably the most important aspect to being a boutique heli-skiing operator is having small groups. This allows the group to be agile, move quickly, change plans on the fly, adapt to the groups abilities, and tackle terrain that larger groups aren’t able to. Plus, it’s more personal and easier to group skiers of the same abilities. If you and your buddies are veteran heli-skiers you wouldn’t want to be in the same helicopter as a group of newbies (and vice versa). There is just no comparison, in this case smaller is definitely better.
What is considered small groups? A small group has a maximum of 4 or 5 guests in a guided group. Companies using this format at either flying the ultimate heli-skiing machine, the Astar Eurocopter , or some will operate the less known Bell 407. These small groups, and their corresponding helicopters, have offered a distinct contrast to the regular heli-skiing program which uses the larger Bell 212, or the “Huey”, which accommodates 11 guests per guided group. It is like comparing a Porsche with a Passenger bus; even the flying experience is completely different.
So clearly, to be described as a boutique heli-skiing operation a company needs to have small groups, but that is not all.
The boutique experience goes further than the number in a ski group, it also is defined by the fact that there is specialty accommodation included by the provider and a capped number of guests staying at the property and guests skiing the terrain at all times.
In the heli-skiing industry there are day heli-skiing operations and destination heli-skiing operations. A day operator sells experiences by the day. Some companies may string several days together with hotel accommodations at the local “Best Western”, however they are still a day operator, and letting guests of different ability and budgets come in for a single day experienced lumped in with those having a multi-day experience. Accordingly, to be sure that a unique heli-skiing experience is delivered and to achieve the accreditation of a boutique heli-skiing company, there must be a designated exclusive lodge, owned and operated by the provider, included in the holiday packaging. This allows the guests to interact with the guides and other guests to make their trip more enjoyable – the experience extends beyond the slopes.
And again, even with regards to accommodation, it comes down to size…would you rather stay at a lodge with 23 others or 120 others? We crave personalized interaction with every guest and we exist because of the friendships that can be formed in a more intimate setting, which you just couldn’t get from a larger resort. A smaller resort also means more heli-skiing terrain for the guests staying. Again smaller is the recipe for a personalized one of a kind experience.
Is Boutique Better?
If anyone asks how do I chose a heli-skiing company that suits me the best, the simplest answer is, “at the very least choose a boutique heli-skiing company. The groups are small; the accommodation is exclusive to destination heli-skiers, and uniquely intimate.” There are only about 10 companies in the world that would fulfill the definition of “Boutique Heli-Skiing”. So there are excellent choices available, from the Arctic to Alaska, from the lower 48 to of course BC. This helps hugely with the decision making and assures potential heli-skiers a great experience, which we believe is better.
As the leaders in boutique heli-skiing, and over 25 years of experience, we have changed our focus to not the fact that we are small heli-skiing destination, but to what can we do for our guests because we are a small heli-skiing destination. Great Canadian Heli-skiing still stands out amongst the boutique operators with our ‘unlimited vertical’ and ‘flexible holidays’, both delivered as per our guests requests. We focus on providing the best heli-skiing experience of your life and have built our business with size in mind. Our goal has never been to be the biggest, just the best.
But we’d love to hear from you – does size matter? (comment below)
Imagine you and your friends being lifted by helicopter to a stunning, remote location high in the mountains, where you spend the morning exploring the pristine landscape, before stopping for a delicious lunch prepared by your private guide. The day ends with a quick flight back to the lodge where you are treated to a gourmet dinner, followed by swapping stories and reveling in your day’s adventure.
It may sound like a scene from a lottery commercial, but anyone can go heli-hiking. Who says the backcountry is reserved exclusively for winter enjoyment? Heli-hiking is the perfect summer adventure for those wanting to explore off the beaten path, to blaze their own trail through undeveloped terrain.
There are two heli-hiking tours that operate out of our very own Heather Mountain Lodge that we would recommend:
Heli-hiking with Terry Makos
Terry Makos, better known as “TM”, has been heli-hiking for more than 20 years and has been a heliskiing guide at GCH for nearly as long. He specializes in creating custom heli-hiking trips for any size group and ability level (even beginners!) ranging from single day trips to multi-day packages with accommodations and meals included.
Working with Mike from Coldstream Helicopters and fellow guide Al Dakin, Terry recently had a family reunion of 10 people from around North America descend upon Heather Mountain Lodge for a heli-hiking experience of a lifetime. High above the tree line near Iconoclast Mountain, the group spent the day taking in the magnificent views of snow covered glaciers, jagged peaks and a stunning alpine lake.
Mountain Travel Sobek offers exclusive heli-hiking holidays in the backcountry of Banff and Yoho National Parks, which include 3 nights at our very own Heather Mountain Lodge. During the 8-day trip, you’ll leave the crowds behind in favour of far-flung, high alpine meadows where you’ll hike beneath glaciers, along turquoise lakes, take in the famous Takakkaw Falls and even tour Burgess Shale, the world’s best preserved fossil beds. The Heather Mountain Lodge portion boasts 4 days of customised heli-hiking. With over 1000 km2 of exclusive terrain and a private helicopter for the group, the guides and pilot choose each day’s hikes based on weather, group interest and season.
All trips are 8 days long and have set start dates during the peak season of July and August. Lead guide and trip organizer Ken Bélanger has been involved in outdoor adventures both in the mountains and on the water for over 20 years. He spent the better part of 10 years designing and guiding active international holidays in Europe, North and Central America, North Africa and Asia. He is now firmly rooted in Canadian soil and has personally created this epic 8-day heli-hiking holiday. Trips start at $4695 for the full 8-day experience including all meals, accommodations and transportation (starting and ended in Banff, Alberta). For more information, please visit Heli Hike with Mountain Travel Sobek .
As summer winds down, the 2013 heli-hiking season does as well. But it’s never too early to start dreaming about, researching and planning your summer adventures for next year. If you’re craving something different, heli-hiking might just be the ticket.
The only time you should be hot and sweaty on a holiday is when you have a cold cocktail and a pool beside you. There is neither in our heli-skiing mountains. Your primary piece of armour from the elements is your heli-skiing jacket (and pants). Note Heli-Skiing jacket is different than resort skiing jacket. There are three critical factors in choosing what to pack for your heli ski trip in order to maximize your enjoyment. 1. Remote 2. Warmer 3. Deep Snow.
REMOTE: What makes heli-skiing Great in Canada is that we have lots of land (10,000,000 km², 2nd Largest Country) and not many people (35 Million). Great Canadian Heli-Skiing’s Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges are perfect examples of this, they are vast powder full bowls, glades and glaciers. Once the helicopter lifts of for the day you want to be prepared for the weather, and the changes that can occur throughout the day. You want a tough jacket that will act as armour from the snow, wind and trees. Make sure that your clothes can outlast your legs, to avoid a shortening of an epic day.
WARMER: You will not find the tropics up here, but you will find a warm helicopter waiting for you at the end of each run, ready to lift you to another. This is a factor that many don’t consider when dressing for helicopter skiing. Many people wear insulated jackets which mean the personal thermostat is going to be stuck on Warm all day long. With no adjust you are going to sweat, fog up your goggles, cramp up your dehydrated legs, and impact your day. This is why you will hear seasoned heli skiing guests and guides repeat the “Layering” mantra over and over. Elevations, Temperatures, Wind, and Exertion can cause dramatic changes in body temperature. Having a Jacket, that is not insulated, only a shell combined with layers underneath, allows for daily adjustments. Best advice, walk out the door with a shell jacket and some mid-layers (never cotton), you should feel slightly cool walking to the helicopter. Pack a packable vest for lunch, and you are ready for a comfortable day in the mountains.
DEEP SNOW: Heli-Skiing snow is different than resort snow, its deeper. Your day of heli-skiing is spent immersing yourself into the snow either by glorious submarine turns, or head first torpedo burns. Over and over again Gore Tex shells have proven to be the best defense to powder snows insistent attack. In addition, Powder Cuffs, and tall Collars add to your ability to convert yourself into a water tight submersible object.
A perfect example of a perfect heli-skiing jacket is the Arcteryx Vertic Jacket. Great Canadian Heli-Skiing was the first heli skiing company to outfit all their guides in Arcteryx, for a good reason they make tough high quality products perfect for our environment. See the details below, or if you want more information on suiting up for heli-skiing, check out a video from guide Terry Makos.
ARCTERY VERTIC JACKET – Here’s the lowdown on a no-down heli-skiing approved jacket:
Waterproof, breathable and durable jacket designed for big mountain and on/off piste skiing and riding. Patterned for easy layering and designed with ample pocket storage.
FULL FEATURE LIST
GORE-TEX® three-layer construction
Tiny GORE® seam tape (13 mm)
One-hand adjustable drawcords
No-lift gusseted underarms
Stealth hood adjusters
Helmet compatible Stow Hood
Laminated chin guard with brushed microsuede facing for added comfort
Zippers & Fly Configuration
Pit zippers for easy venting
WaterTight™ Vislon front zip
Webbing zipper pulls
Zipper garages to protect zipper closure from snow and rain
Cuff & Sleeves Configuration
Laminated die-cut Velcro® cuff adjusters reduce bulk, and won’t catch or tear off
Drop back hem
Adjustable hem drawcord
Internal chest pocket with laminated zip
Internal mesh pocket
Two high-volume chest pockets with hidden zippers
Two hand pockets with WaterTight™ zippers
Note: Our WaterTight™ zippers are highly water resistant, but not waterproof. We do not recommend keeping items in your pockets that may be damaged by moisture
Powder skirt with gripper elastic and snap closure
Hidden Recco® reflector
N40p-X GORE-TEX® Pro 3L
N150p GORE-TEX® Pro 3L
Great fitting product, very sturdy
“…With a base and mid layer close to the body, this jacket seems to hover. It might have something to do with the extra stiff n150p gore-tex – which is noticeably stiffer than other gore materials. I’ve got a TNF enzo (n40d) – which is super pliable, a Theta AR (mix of different denier’s) – which has panels which are somewhat stiff, and this jacket – which is stiffer throughout than the stiffest panel on the other jackets.
The newest N80p-x material used in some of the other jackets is indeed softer to the touch, and about half the stiffness of this jacket. The theta SV bibs use both of these materials – and the 150p material is used in the high wear areas of those pants. This jacket uses 150p all over – so if you want the toughest and the stiffest – this is the jacket. I kind of like the stiffer jackets – it holds away from the body a bit better than more pliable materials – and in my books – that makes it feel warmer.
As far as the finish is concerned – typical Arc’teryx. Nothing but great lines, and cleverly thought out features. The powder skirt is super lightweight, and there it sits at exactly the right height. It is not too tight or too loose – and will lock in to compatible pants with slide-locks. I’m not concerned about the longevity or wear, as the old gore-tex I’ve had has lasted over 10 years. Also – the lifetime warranty is among the best in the business.
If I can save you some time – just try this one on on see what I mean. The closest fit is the patagonia super-alpine – but even that one has extra material that bulks.” Wavesport, Vancouver.
Great ski shell!
“Finally an Arc’teryx shell with a hood that stows! Been waiting on a Arc’teryx jacket without a full-time hood. The Vertical hood rolls and stows in the zippered collar. I am 5’8″ 160 lbs and a small fits perfectly. Has a snow skirt that works, pockets in all the right places and adjustable cuffs with die cut tabs to reduce bulk. Handy zippered pass pocket for electronic readers. When the weather gets rough, the collar zips nice and high while staying out of your way. I wear a base layer, my favorite zip tee topped off with a down sweater. The Gore-Tex Pro material make this thing bomb proof. Just returned from Alta, Utah where they had a major dump closing the canyon roads and the jacket performed great. I was warm and dry under all conditions.
If you are a serious skier, I don’t care where you are on the mountain, this jacket will not let you down. Looks great too! Received many good looks and comments as well. Sorry, made in China.” Bergyvegas, Phoenix AZ
all product information and reviews are from arcteryx website. For More information and reviews visit: