As of writing this, the recent winter solstice marked the official start of the winter. We all know what it’s about – the days start pinching the night away, minute by minute. But for many of us the winter started months ago in late August, when there was a slight hint in the air – the first crisp morning that made our shoulders shiver and breath visible. Wait another month and it was official – the winter arrived in a form of few snowflakes. It’s not much, but it’s enough to derail puppies, babies and people addicted to skiing. And scientists, too – Jon Nelson, who studies snowflakes at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan, says it’s highly likely that there are no two snowflakes a like. It takes about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 water molecules to form a snow crystal, and the way they can arrange themselves is almost infinite.
By now our focus has clearly shifted from counting snowflakes to measuring overnight snowfall and storm totals. Mornings are spent getting the conditions over the radio from backcountry lodges and digging snow pits, all in the name of having more quality skiing out there. “Is it dumping?” has taken over our thoughts. Seems the little guys who have gathered en masse have been forgotten – so we set out to find those little marvels around the lodge. We managed to capture a couple – all of them very unique, glistening on a sunny -20° C morning.
We also bumped into our ski guide Ox in the boot room and asked him about his best snow-related memory. No surprise here, he had many, but he shared the one that changed his life. It was end of 90’s and he had just skinned his way up to Kootenay Pass. On the way down he experienced his first proper white room – it had never been that deep that you’re choking! The feeling of freedom going through the sea of powder, it’s crazy! As he shares the story we realize that Ox has gone back in time and is reliving the memory as if it’s happening right now. The man actually glows over the bindings he’s stopped working on. “That one run changed my life! It was then that I realized what I want to to the rest of my life and ever since I’ve been chasing that feeling!”. (In case a translation is needed – he became addicted to pow and has not stopped chasing it ever since :)). But that’s not why he became a ski guide – “Oh no, ski guides don’t roam freely in remote passes, they have wolf packs to lead” – at least that’s what he claims. But we have a feeling it’s the same as when an airline pilot says he’d rather be fly fishing than hauling crowds and cargo around the world – we hear the words but you can’t hide that twinkle in your eyes!
A winter lover’s life might seem like a huge snowdrift of conquered peaks, sick lines and powder days, but it consists of numerous stories alike, but all unique, all worthy of changing one’s day better or setting a new course in life.
The recipe for an epic ski season varies from person to person. From finding the perfect playlist to buying new heat-molded boots, or hey, treating yourself to some heliskiing, the combinations are endless. The one thing that ties us all together when we want our #bestdayever? SNOW! POW! FRESHIES! Call it what you want, but we think this key ingredient is here to stay. Here’s 5 reasons why we know this is going to be a great year:
1.) Reports from the field
We can’t tell whether GCH Guide Alison Dakin was more stoked about the snow levels or the fact that her 4X4 got her to it when she went for a backcountry tour in the Purcells last weekend. According to her, the conditions were looking great for November, and will just get better as we head into December!
2.) looking outside our window
The team at GCH headquarters in Golden, BC are busy as ever getting ready for the 16/17 season. Nothing gets this team more excited about heli-skiing than watching fat, fluffy flakes drop from the sky, just outside our window. Our Marketing Coordinator Elora snuck out during a recent storm to capture the sure signs of an epic ski season.
3.) Looking to the (ski) hills
The resorts in our area are great at sharing the conditions and helping our stoke levels rise while the helicopters warm up. Many have opened early, and we love our closest hill Kicking Horse Mountain Resort for sharing how amazing conditions are, like this video that their ski patrol took on November 1st.
4.) Stepping into the whiteroom at Heather Mountain Lodge
It’s called the Powder Highway for a reason, and our beautiful lodge is located along this famous route for those seeking a pow day. Last week, our Chef Josh Gaudet captured what we had suspected all along…WINTER IS HERE!
Only time will tell if skiers will be singing “la la La Niña!” this season or “El Nino-no-no”. If the rumors are true and we get the predicted cooler temps and high precipitation , there will be much rejoicing at our Apres parties. What we can guarantee is that Great Canadian Heli-Skiing is located in one of the best powder zones in North America, and our amazing team of pilots and guides are ready to take you to the best snow… in a helicopter!!!! We can forecast until the cows come home, but we are better at delivering that #bestdayever no matter what happens, and we’ll stick to what we know best 😉
There’s still time to book for some early season turns, Check Availability today!
“But I felt like it was looking at us.”
There’s nothing like a spooky halloween story to get the heart racing. With the chill in the air, we can’t help but wonder what kinds of paranormal phenomena can be found in our area. According to this article in the Revelstoke Review by storyteller Brennan Storr, “The Pass” is notorious for the night of “The Rogers Pass Fireball”.
“All of a Sudden the Sky Went Like Daylight”
In the moments leading up to the Rogers Pass Fireball, there was no indication to the few present that this still winter night was different from any other. Temperatures hovered around freezing on the morning of December 18, 1997 as three two-man C.P.R. crews, two aboard trains and one headed home to Revelstoke in a taxi, watched the night sky erupt.
Even some fifteen years later, witnesses to the Rogers Pass Fireball are reluctant to discuss details of the incident. “I haven’t talked about it since it happened,” says one man who refused to say anything else on the record, “and I don’t want to start now.”
What details that have emerged tell of a booming sound followed by the appearance of an enormous yellow ball of light, crackling with what appeared to be electricity, streaking across the canyon. Says one source, “All of a sudden the sky went like daylight – bright daylight – and this big yellow ball slowly went over the valley.”
The fireball, which made no sound after its initial appearance, was then said to stop its progress and hover above the valley for ten full seconds before finally disappearing behind Mount Sir Donald in the southeast.
While, in the broad strokes, the Revelstoke Fireball shares characteristics with bolides – particularly large and bright meteors entering the earth’s atmosphere – those present feel as though something much different was taking place.
“I don’t know what it was,” said another witness who claimed the light was so intense that other drivers on the highway began to swerve in shock. “But I felt like it was looking at us.”
To read more spooky halloween stories of our area, check out Brennan’s book “A Strange Little Place: The Hauntings & Unexplained Events of One Small Town”