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small group
Heli-Skiing?

You will LOVE skiing in small groups! The heli-skiing new school is all about skiing in fast, agile helicopters in small and personalized groups. Once you go small, you won’t go back!

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One heli of a Summer!

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From fighting fires to relocating wildlife, the fleet of Silverking A-star helicopters that bring us our unlimited vertical in winter keep themselves just as busy in the summer months.  What’s keeping them so busy ?  We got the low down from Silverking owner Ryan Hinds.  Here’s his breakdown of the top three activities these machines take to new heights:
Forest Fire Management
When fighting fires there are many duties that a pilot / helicopter can carry out. These include moving fire crews, mapping the fires dimensions and movement and water bucketing. Bucketing takes some skill in terms of accurately placing the water into predetermined areas of the fire. If water is not dropped  at key locations the fire activity can easily increase in size. Wind and temperature are the key factors that the pilot will constantly be monitoring in order to insure that the helicopter can perform at an efficient level.
Grizzly Bear Relocation
Grizzly bears can be a safety issue for remote work sites etc. The bear(s) are tranquillized and transported via helicopter to a remote area as far away as possible from human activity. Usually this is carried out by slinging the bear in a net below the helicopter, but sometimes the bear will be put inside the helicopter. This will allow the helicopter to fly faster and further to relocate the bear. However, in some cases, the bears will return after a short time. I have had a grizzly bear start to wake up sooner than anticipated while in the back seat. It’s a slow process, so it’s not a concern. We simply land and let him out a little sooner than expected.
Mining Operations
We also do a ton of mineral exploration looking for gold and copper. We long-line diamond drill into various mountain locations. Once the drills are in place we support the drilling by bringing fuel, crew and other supplies to the site.

Music in the Mountains

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The hills are alive with the sound of music, especially when our guide “Super Sue” is conducting.

This week in Golden, British Columbia, Sue conducted the Purcell Mountain Orchestra for it’s 10th anniversary concert, “Wonderful To Wild”.  The orchestra covered everything from Star Wars to The Sound of Music to Led Zeppelin, complete with costume changes from Darth Vader to Flower Power hippie.

“When I was a little girl I always wanted to be like Fräulein Maria in the Sound of Music and be surrounded by music in the mountains.” Sue told the audience,  “Now here I am doing just that!”

Way to go Sue and congrats on the 10th Anniversary of the Purcell Mountain Orchestra.

 

The force is strong with our Sue.

The force is strong with our Sue.

In her element.

Finishing off with some Rock and Roll.

Take a bow… or a peace sign works too!

The Best of Both Worlds

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It’s hard  to imagine a job with better perks than heli-skiing, but our front desk extraordinaire Marion has truly set herself up with the best of both worlds.  Running a paddle board business back home in France is not quite the same as skiing the deep powder at Great Canadian, but it’s all about balance, especially on a paddle board.  She took some time to fill us in on her summer:

Tell us about your business and what you are getting up to this summer.

This summer will be our third season paddle boarding on one of the most beautiful coves in the area of the “Vermilion Coastline”, North of Catalonia, at the Spanish border. This cove is called “Paulilles”, it is three cute beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, located between Port Vendres & Banyuls.  As it is still a pretty new business and as we decided to start it in a blink of an eye, we are still trying to organize it more and more. We are still in a big learning process. This is very exciting even though there is so much to do and think about. It’s way more interesting to see people enjoying & playing like kids!

What has it been like transitioning from heli-skiing in the mountains to paddle boarding in France?

As much as I’m getting used to switch from skiing to paddle-boarding, I like both activities. But to be honest, probably being originally from the mountains makes me prefer skiing… And now that I’ve done some heli-skiing, I guess it’s even stronger!  Working for a company and working for your own business is quite different. Not sure I can really compare… I think it is less stress, easy fun working for a heli-ski company than running a little growing business. But there is more challenges,  and more work,  running Paddling Paradise.

What do you miss most about Heather Mountain Lodge?

I mostly I miss my new friends…a great team!  I can work many different jobs, my #1 priority is the team, the people I work with that make the place nice, great or not.  Before I started, I was wondering
about the clientele with a high level of expectation, and now I can say that I really enjoyed meeting people coming from all over the world sharing the same passion of skiing. I miss it too.

What do your friends in France think when you tell them about your job at Great Canadian?

Hahaha, some of them are a bit jealous, other very supportive or impressed. But the best reaction was from my companion who now really wants to come work in Canada a and maybe become a ski-guide. Ah well, any friends think that I was very lucky, which is very true.

What are you most excited for next season?

I’m super excited about heli-sking again! But still, it’s the team that will make it worth it. In any case, I keep my fingers crossed for a great skiing season, with a ton a fluffy snow for all of us!!!

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.