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That’s our girl!

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Ever wonder how the guides at Great Canadian unwind at the end of the season? Perhaps some time off somewhere warm, staying at home for some peace and quiet, a record breaking 36 day ski traverse…

That last option may sound ambitious, but not for our Maddy.  Less than a week after she finished guiding, she found herself and three friends at Kootenay Pass.  Their plan was to complete the first ever Selkirk Traverse.  This would take them more than 500 km (310 miles) through some of North America’s toughest backcountry terrain.  It took 36 days, many broken skis, midnight wake up calls and countless treacherous river crossings but the team made it home safe and sound on May 8, 2016.  We caught up with Madeleine to find out more about her adventure:

 

How does it feel being home?

It feels good but kind of strange. It’s a lot to digest, and you can re-enter into life in the [Columbia] Valley but you’re still processing this huge experience.

Where did the idea to do this come from?

About 5 years ago, my friend Stephen and I were driving up to Mt. Logan for a ski trip, which is about a 40 hour drive.  We were bored and decided to start making adventure “to-do” lists. Oddly enough both of us had this dream of skiing the entire Selkirks.  Then last year we were skiing together and Stephen said “Let’s do that trip this spring!” So we started planning, getting all the food caches ready, getting our route more specified and then we realized maybe it will just be the two of us! Like, who else would want to do this?! But then we started putting the word out to people and we found three others who were really interested and had big trip experience.

The team at Rogers Pass. Madeleine on the far right.

 

How did you prepare mentally for this sort of trip?

Well, I was thinking about the trip all the time and checking conditions constantly.  Luckily I was working in the Selkirks for most of the season.  What was super cool was the last couple days I was guiding at Great Canadian, we happened to be skiing in some of the areas along our route.  That gave me an amazing vantage point of the route we were going to take.

What was your most challenging moment?

We had some pretty insane river crossings.  As skiers and not white-water rafters, we were all pretty nervous about the rivers.  Luckily there were trees that we could use to cross, but they were just big enough that you could walk on them, but narrow enough that it was absolutely terrifying.  We had to go one at a time, so there was no way to protect each other.  Those were the real mental cruxes of the trip, when you have no other option and you just have to dig super deep to get it done.

Do not fall in!

Also at one point, we were south of Battle Abbey and we got caught on this huge slope with a peak that was shedding a lot of loose snow over top of us. It was a 20 minute window where we just raced as fast as we could across this bench and slides were coming down and covering the tracks right behind us. So right after that we ended up switching our sleep schedule to wake up at midnight and only travel in the wee hours of the morning.

What was your favourite moment?

Probably the alpine camps, where we got beautiful views and incredible sunsets overlooking the Monashees and the Selkirks and the Purcells.  Sleeping out in the open under the stars and seeing shooting stars, that’s always my favourite for sure. Another cool thing was when we had to do our midnight wake-ups, it was during the full moon so those couple of nights we got to see both the moon set and the sun rise at the same time.  That was pretty special to see.

How did you feel when you reached the end?

We were all just kind of stunned and wide eyed, not believing that it was over.  When we finished we were waiting for my Dad to pick us up from the CMH Monashee Lodge.  Then we all piled into my dad’s truck and drove into Revelstoke and watched the mountain ranges go by so quickly that had just taken us so long to cross.

What does it mean to you to have done this?

I think it’s amazing to be able to have a dream that seems a little bit ‘out there’, but having the right mix
of people and opportunities and conditions so that it can come true.  You can make it happen if you are willing to accept support.

What are your plans now?

We finished this trip so early so I have some time to rest.  When we did the calculations of distance we figured it would take us about 8 1/2 weeks, and then it turned into 5.  I’ll be working at Outward Bound running a youth backpacking course, then I’m really looking forward to planning more adventures!

 

 

A trip like this one takes a lot of planning.

Sticks on sticks to get to the other side.

Some casualties along the way.

 

We have all made friends with a tree well at some point.

 

Thanks to Douglas Noblet for the epic photos of the trip! Click here to see more of the adventure.

Mountain Biking Golden

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In the summer months, Great Canadian Heli-Skiing transitions into Heather Mountain Lodge – all of the great vibe, accommodation and food but no helicopters.  So, other than hiking the top-quality trails in Glacier National Park, what is there to do?

Mountain biking is still not a recognized activity for Glacier National Park but both neighbouring towns, Golden and Revelstoke, are mountain bike meccas. Revelstoke is only an hour west of Heather Mountain Lodge and Golden a short 30 minutes east, making the Lodge a perfect base camp for northern Kootenay mountain bike adventures.

CBT

Stylish bridges on CBT Mainline

Golden is home to two major cross country style mountain bike trail systems and two downhill-style trail systems, with more than 150 km of trail in total.  If you want alpine rides, long descents, flowly climbs, buffed out berms or technical rocks… Golden has it all.

Mt 7 and Mountain Shadows

Shadows

The buff Selkirk Slacker in Mountain Shadows

The east side of Golden is home to Mt 7, the legendary mountain that hosted the Red Bull Mt 7 Psychosis downhill race for 10 years.  While that race has since been retired, the network of downhill trails still live.  Shuttle up the Forest Service Road and drop in at 3 km, 5 km, 10 km or 14 km, with the difficulty getting higher with the kilometres.

If technical “old school” single track is more your style, ride the Mountain Shadows trails at the base of Mt 7.  These trails bench across the bottom of the downhill trails and form a network of about 20 km.  Rock slabs, technical bridges and neat natural features pop up throughout this system.

CBT Mainline and MoonRakers

The famous Canyon Creek trail (c) Tourism Golden

The famous Canyon Creek trail (c) Tourism Golden
While the Moonraker Trails are some of the older trails in Golden, they’ve been freshened up with great access from town via the CBT Mainline network.  The CBT Mainline trail starts at the very bottom of the road to Kicking Horse Resort and benches up south of the road to the level of Cedar Lake and the Moonraker system – about 12 km from the trailhead.  If you’re not up for the entire climb, consider sliding down the Mighty Quinn or Gold Rush – fun, descent preferred trails.  You can make the climb to Cedar Lake longer by tagging on a loop around Old Age & Treachery.

The Moonrakers system starts from Cedar Lake (and ends with a fresh dip in Cedar Lake at the end of a hot day) and include more than 60 km of single-track, including a few different connections to the valley bottom and a new connection all the way to the base of Kicking Horse Resort.  The classic “must-rides” in the Moonrakers are Canyon Creek and Arrowhead.

Kicking Horse and the Alpine

The epic alpine goodness that is Terminator Ridge.  (c) Tourism Golden

The epic alpine goodness that is Terminator Ridge. (c) Tourism Golden

Kicking Horse Resort has provided lift access downhill mountain biking for more than 10 years.  New to their extensive slate of downhill trails are two alpine cross country options.  Terminator Ridge runs south from the top of the Gondola, involving some short hike-a-bike sections before descending through the alpine and into the forests, eventually ending in the Moonrakers.  This is an advanced track for experienced mountain bikers, but definitely a must-ride if you’re up for some high alpine technical goodness.

More recently (last summer) the trail crew of Kicking Horse built an up-track in Crystal Bowl that services 3 separate short downhill sections.  The uptrack is only about 2 km so an entire loop in the high-elevation, low oxygen zone is 5 km… but if you try all three down options you’re looking at 3 laps or 15 km – not bad!

Long story short – if you’ve not been to Golden, it’s time to check it out on two wheels.  Use TrailForks or download the Golden Cycling Club app for interactive trail maps.

Season Roundup with Rob

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For Great Canadian Heli-Skiing lead guide Rob Dalinghaus, the season ran like clockwork.

Well, almost…

“I did leave my skis in the basket one day” he said.  But who can blame him? Our guides are some of the hardest working alpine professionals in the world.  They are hustling around the lodge hours before the first heli takes off and work well into the night making sure the next day runs perfectly.  As the lead guide, Rob literally has a birds eye view on day to day operations,  so who better to ask about what made this season so fantastic?  But first we find out more about those missing skis!

How did you find yourself out in the field with a group, but no skis?!

Well, it was a combination of distractions.  We added a group to training and I went somewhere far away.  We were picking up weather stations and landing stakes.  I looked in and thought the basket was empty.  And in the interest of making it all work you want to do these things efficiently. You think you are doing things efficiently until you realize… I royally screwed up on this one!  So the guests that day were saying “Well, we’re good to go! See you at the bottom!”  And I just had to stand there knowing my skis are going to be back with the heli in 2 minutes, and I just have to live with the embarrassment. 

Dude, where's my skis?

Dude, where’s my skis?

What made this season special?

We were able to offer the “full package” of tree skiing, tree line skiing and alpine skiing. That was amazing for sure.  It felt really good!

What were some highlights for you as lead guide?

It was a massive team effort. We had some new people lead guiding. Once they got their feet wet you could tell that they were going to be fine.  For me thats kind of a relief because you’re constantly “on” when you’re lead guiding.  You do everything from putting together the groups in the morning, the guides meeting, going out skiing, guiding for yourself, guiding for the other groups and for the new guides, air traffic control, so it was nice to hand that off at times.  That made it a little easier to keep it going.  I think last year I worked a little too much so it was wonderful to have that help. 

Rob explains the ins and outs of heli safety.

Rob explains the ins and outs of heli safety.

Did you have a #bestdayever this season?

I know I did. I know it was a powder skiing day.  The conditions were great. I have it in my notebook somewhere because we write down not only the runs but also the morning conditions and stuff we see.  That day got a special note.

What makes a perfect ski day for you?

When it rolls out without a lot of banter on the radio.  You’re just skiing, just riding, however you get down the mountain, and it just clicks. We go out there and we get some wicked runs and amazing powder.  And a wicked lunch too! We get back to the lodge and you can feel the energy.  At the après-ski, in the room everyone is just stoked, like “Wow! That was sweet don’t you think?!”

Where will you be during the off season?

I work year round and in the off season we are still busy. Summer is basically reporting our activities to the government.  We put a snapshot of how the season went and where we skied.  I always look at which run was ” winner” as in which one did we visit most.  I’m not sure which one that is yet but previous winners have been runs like Eat Your Wheaties, Rocky and Smoke.  

 

Thanks Rob!  See you (and Sue) next season!

Rob with his better half and fellow guide, Super Sue!

Rob with his better half and fellow guide, Super Sue!

 

The Goods… and we’re not talking about the Powder

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Great Canadian Heli-Skiing offers some of the best terrain and snow, great guides, and superb helicopter pilots. Pair that with unlimited vertical and small groups of four, and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect heli-skiing vacation… or do you?

Realistically, you’ll only be spending 6-8 hours a day in the deep white powder, another 8 sleeping… so that leaves 8 full hours to be entertained.

A typical day at Great Canadian Heli-Skiing includes a morning guided stretching class before breakfast to prepare your body for the day… and help it recover from the day prior. Most of our guests make the most of the stretching class so they can make the most of their ski day.

Gotta fuel up for a day that starts like this!

Gotta fuel up for a day that starts like this!

Breakfast is always a decadent affair to fuel the bodies and minds for a day in the snow. Our pastry chef is second to none and a smorgasbord of fresh and healthy food is available for every appetite and diet. Perhaps the best part of breakfast, especially in the early winter, is watching the sun illuminate the mountains on a clear day.

What a sight to wake up to!

What a sight to wake up to!

Once you head out for your day of fun, the lodge staff is hard at work cleaning and preparing for your return. The boot room becomes the perfect après ski story-sharing zone as we play videos and photos from your previous days on the big screen TV. Drinks and snacks round out the scene.

Chef Stefano Leone's apres platters are a work of art.

Chef Stefano Leone’s apres platters are a work of art.

From there, Great Canadian Heli-Skiing guests enjoy massage, have a sauna, take some quiet time, and otherwise prepare for the evening feast. Dinner in the lodge is a grand affair, especially with the large windows revealing perfect views of the mountain sunsets. Our award-winning chef prepares specialities of wild game and locally raised or foraged foods.

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Our cozy sauna in a blanket of white.

After dinner the Wooly Toque lounge is the social occasion of choice. The Wooly Toque has a fine selection of scotch, a pool table and comfortable chairs and tables for recounting the day’s exploits.

Structural engineering games round out the perfect day.

Structural engineering games round out the perfect day.

Great Canadian Heli-Skiing is a boutique Heli-Skiing operation located next to Rogers Pass, Revelstoke and Golden, in British Columbia, Canada. Offering flexible packages, unlimited vertical and small groups of 4, Great Canadian Heli-Skiing is an ideal winter vacation destination for visitors looking for an epic powder experience.

How to store your winter gear. Our do’s and don’t’s.

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Long gone are the late autumn days when our skis and shell jackets got our utmost attention.  Exposing your ski gear to sunlight after 8 months in the darker corners of the garage and the countless hours spent at stores deciding wether you should shield yourself from the elements with gore-tex or gore-tex pro, or gore-tex ultra ultra pro. Let’s face it – winter was epic and we’re still stoked thinking about all the memories it gave us, but it’s springtime, so dry those tears and if you must pack away your ski gear, you darn well better do it properly!

Here are some of the tips and tricks for storing your winter gear so you’ll be up and ready in no time once it’s dumping again!

 

Skis / Snowboard

  1. Get the base clean – a garden hose and towel will take care of the salt, dirt, grime. Let it dry.
  2. Sharpen the edges to avoid the chances of rust.
  3. Fix all the equipment issues while they’re still fresh in your mind. Fine tune your gear.
  4. Wax on (but not off!) Make sure your ski/board is dry or the wax will lock the moisture in. Wax the bases – you’ll want to hot wax the bases with an all-temperature or a softer warm-weather wax to protect them from oxidation. Be generous with the wax and be sure to cover the edges, which will help keep rust away. Leave the wax on as it is – do not scrape it off!
  5. Strap the skis together, base-to-base, and place them away from sunlight, extreme temperatures drops and humid areas. A neutral position with no pressure on either camber or rocker is best. Do not strap your poles with the skis.
  6. Do not relax binding springs.
  7. Come winter, scrape the wax and off you go!

Boots

Clean them as well as the boot bag. Pull the liners out and make sure everything is completely dry, then do up all the buckles as if it’s on your foot for the whole summer. Check the heels and toes of your boots for wear while you’re at it, and replace if necessary. This is a great time to inspect your snowboard boot laces and replace them if they’re worn, too. Crumble some newspaper into the boots and store them in a cool, dry place.

Goggles

Take em off of your helmet, air dry.  Well that was easy!

 

 

Smart Washing

The best way to destroy your waterproof jacket or pants is by not washing them and letting bacteria feast on sweat, grime, beer, hot sauce and that sip of Jägermeister you missed on shot skis. The second best way to destroy it – wash it with regular detergent and fabric softeners and it will take the magic
away. Do not bleach, do not use stain remover. Instead, look towards NIKWAX Tech Wash (or other similar liquid detergents), machine wash with warm water and then – tumble dry it on a warm, gentle cycle. Once it’s dry, tumble dry your garment to reactivate the durable water-repellent treatment on the outer fabric. Lastly, put a $10 bill in your pocket for a nice surprise!

Gloves

Hand wash your gloves in lukewarm water with little aforementioned detergent. Do not use fabric softener. After washing, gently squeeze them from finger to wrist to remove any excess water. When you dry your gloves you should position them so that the wrist opening points downwards. Do not place them in direct sunlight or on a heater to dry. Dry leather gloves at room temperature. Shell gloves can be tumble dried at a low heat setting.

That’s it! Your future you will buy you a nice cold one for this.