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The #BestJobEver

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If you’re wondering what the best job at Great Canadian Heli-Skiing is, look no further than your social media hosts. Elora Braden and the infamous Muzza share the position for the winter months and their smiles, laughs and stories show their enthusiasm.

Elora doing what she does for work.

Elora doing what she does for work.

According to Elora, there are three reasons why being a social media host is better than every other job at Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, including the job of being a ski guide.

#1 – You don’t HAVE to ski all day. “Our ski guides are machines and we’re normal human beings,” says Elora. “While I’d love to think that I could be out there skiing all day, every day, I’m just not fit enough. Being the social media host, we get our fair share of heli-time to capture images and stories, but we don’t have to go out on the days that our legs say no.”

#2 – You get to enjoy all the fantastic meals prepared by Heather Mountain Lodge chefs. “I’ve recently discovered the glory of the breakfast sandwich. Before that it was this unreal lavender dessert. Our kitchen is constantly creating delicious meals for everyone. If I was faced with a never-ending heli-skiiing mission, I’d want our chefs to be with me.”

#3 – You get to (have to) hear all the guest stories. “Hands down the best thing about working at GCH this winter has been hearing all the stories from our guests. Not only do I run around (ski around) helicopters with a giant camera getting snaps of smiling guests having the time of their life, I also get to interview them. The stories are so inspiring and the people so amazing,” shares Elora. “I spoke with one guest who commented about the way skiing translates into everyday life. He explained now he as overcome obstacles by recalling his successes and defeats on his skis. The act of falling and getting back up again, no matter what, really resonated with him.”

Another hard day at work.

Another hard day at work.

Elora also gives special mention to “our staff, which is one heck of a team. My job would not be nearly so fun if I didn’t have this gang to share some laughs with.”

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.

Powder Discount Pulls Skiers to Canada

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BLong-7603As the US dollar grows stronger, bookings are blooming at Canadian heli-skiing operations. The lure of legendary Canadian mountain destinations, renowned hospitality, and now the “powder discount” is proving too much for our friends south of the border to resist.

The US dollar saw it’s 10-year low in July of 2011 and has been climbing steadily since. The biggest boost, however, has been over the past 12 months, which has seen the US dollar rocket from $1.20 CAD to $1.40 CAD. There appears to be no end to this rise in sight, as Canadian forecasts are predicting the US dollar to hit $1.50 CAD in 2016 and remain comparatively low “until the end of 2018 and potentially even longer.”

With close to a half-dollar bargaining advantage, American heli-skiers are looking at 50% discounts when considering Canadian operations, like Great Canadian Heli-Skiing.

“We’ve always had a large percentage of American guests, but we’ve seen a real increase in the past year,” noted Great Canadian Heli-skiing owner, Greg Porter. “Our operation, located conveniently close to Calgary, has been a favourite with American guests who want booking flexibility, a 5-star hosting experience and lots of skiing.”

“The biggest difference we’ve seen with the recent surge in the US dollar is a number of new American guests and many of our current American guests are booking a multiple ski vacations this winter.   The exchange rate cannot be argued with and we have the reputation for delivering lots of great skiing for people on a tight schedule who want to maximize their precious time in the mountains.”

LR_HeliShoot220115-13While the rise of the US dollar might seem like bad news for Canadians, in tourism-based towns like Golden and Revelstoke, it means good news for the economy. “We’re lucky to have a strong economic base in tourism and we’re ready to welcome the influx of American tourists,” shares Tourism Golden Manager, Joanne Sweeting. “Tourism brings well over $65 million per year into Golden spent on accommodation, activities, dining, retail and other services – not only are our local businesses hiring more staff but they’re able to do renovations, buy more supplies locally, and generally increase the function of the local economy.”

The rise of the US dollar, combined with the absolutely epic winter we’re having is making northern ski destinations ever more appealing. “We only have a couple seats left in 2016 and are already approaching capacity for 2017. If you’re considering a heli-ski vacation, we’d recommend you choose a date and commit soon, or you’ll be waiting until 2018 or beyond,” shares Porter. “With the strong US dollar we now have to figure out a way to extend winter!”

Mano e Mano

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“I saw my dad fall and I realized he was human, just like the rest of us.”
“I didn’t fall, I leaned into the turn.”

Peter and Blake are just one father-son combo that have visited Great Canadian Heli-Skiing this winter.  It’s their second heli-ski trip together, but first to Great Canadian, and their enthusiasm was evident… or maybe it was the fatigue… or the 6 days in an extraordinary environment…

Peter and Blake just before slaying some powder!

Peter and Blake just before slaying some powder!

“Heli-skiing is not just the skiing.  It’s not just up and down.  You’re put in an environment where you’re not around technology and you’re not around all these distractions of normal life.  You’re literally sitting here 3000m up on your skis and just talking on the top of a mountain.  You have a lot of cool moments.  It’s a personal and intimate experience,” shared Blake.  “We had this silly banter going for most of the week where we just said the most ridiculous things to each other.  It was hilarious.  One day my dad totally cut ahead of me in line yelling ‘there’s no family or friends on a powder day.’”

From Peter’s perspective, the trip was about connecting with his son: “Nobody else in my family can understand this.  The first time I took Blake heli-skiing he was an intermediate snowboarder with no powder experience. It was not an easy first experience, [but here we are again]. You’re creating memories.  Unbelievable memories.”

Peter is a long-time avid heli-skier and when asked why he’d choose heli-skiing as the best way to connect with his son in the winter months, Peter shared, “I firmly believe that anybody who is a… skier [or snowboarder], if you want a high-end experience with the best possible skiing, you need to get out there and try [heli-skiing].  I have a short list of places I’d recommend and Great Canadian is one of them.  It’s easy to get here, you’re not competing for or paying for extra vertical, and the small groups are great.  Great Canadian has a good guide team – they’re really accommodating and professional; I’ve been other places where the guides make you feel like you should be honoured to ski with them.  The flexibility – where you can start your trip on any day of the week – is very useful.  … and the skiing is great.  Most other places I’ve skied you sit out half of your days because of weather.  Of course, I wanted to share all of these experiences with my son.”

Both Peter and Blake agree that this trip was “all time” and are already considering coming back again this winter.  “Blake is already soft-selling me on another trip.  He was like, ‘maybe I’ll go to Miami with some friends, or, if you’re going to Great Canadian again, I’d consider coming along… [laughing].”

The World’s Top-5 Best Boutique Heli-Skiing Operations

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The world loves to ski, proven by the thousands of ski resorts around the world. But did you know there are only about 40 dedicated heli-skiing operations, 17 of which are located in British Columbia, Canada? Despite accounting for less than half of all heli-skiing operations, BC boasts a whopping 90% of the world’s heli-skiing days (about 90,000 days per year!). That’s about 900 lucky skiers and snowboarders making fresh tracks every day during the relatively mild BC winter season. To put that into perspective, Whistler Blackcomb’s chair lifts can accommodate 65,507 skiers per hour!

Of the 40 heli-skiing operations in the world, there are reasonably few “boutique” operations that break the mould of 12-person groups and large helicopters. Boutique heli-skiing is typically defined by group size, destination and experience.  If you’re looking for gourmet food, unique destination-style accommodation and group sizes of less the 5, boutique is the only heli-skiing to consider.

DSC09273The five best boutique heli-skiing operations in the world are:

Ruby Mountain Helicopter Experience – Founded by Utah ski patroller and adventure seeker, Joy Royer, in 1977, Ruby Mountain has earned the reputation as North America’s secret powder stash.

Tordrillo Mountain Lodge – is positioned in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness, ready for anyone that is looking for extreme adventure and adrenaline.

Arctic Heli-Skiing – Skiing from peak down to the ocean, or night skiing by the light of the midnight sun are truly heli-skiing experiences that you will not find anywhere else on this planet.

Mica Heli-Skiing – is the castle in the sky, with 5-star amenities in the backcountry of British Columbia.  This specific zone receives all of the BC Interior snow-storms in addition to it’s own special selection of lake-effect snow.

Great Canadian Heli-Skiing – has claim to prime heli-skiing terrain located at the east gate of Canada’s Glacier National Park, home to two of the snowiest weather stations in Canada.  The accessible, yet epic, location allows for flexible trips start dates and durations.

Read the full e-book here.

Six Ways to Maximize your Heli-Skiing Experience

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Here you are, ready to slay some powder at Great Canadian Heli-Skiing.  Maybe it’s your first heli-skiing trip, your longest, or you’re new to the whole unlimited vertical concept.  Regardless, we find that most of our guests appreciate our six recovery tips for maximizing their stay and comfort.

1. Drink… and we’re not talking about booze!  We’re all about the Wooly Toque lounge, chowing down on powder and enjoying a fine glass with meals, but water is going to be a #1 way to keep your body tuned.  Hydration at elevation, especially when giv’n’er, is key.  Try to consume a minimum of 2 litres per day.

Lots of wine for the discerning palate.

Lots of wine for the discerning palate.

2. Pace Yourself.  Don’t dig yourself into a deep ditch on day one.  Remember that there is more epic-ness to come and you don’t want to be riding in the heli later… especially if there is snow in the forecast!  If you’re getting tired, take a run off – ask your guide which runs are the “must not miss” and sit a couple of the others out.  We’re all on the same team, trying to maximize the fun!

Great Canadian Heliskiing, BC

3.  Stretch.  Great Canadian Heli-Skiing offers guided stretching classes every morning.  Go.  Don’t think you’ll get it done on your own.  The classes are very welcoming and gentle – no need to worry about traumatic yoga injuries!  Stretching is a great way to warm up your body for a day of skiing.

4.  Get a Massage.  You’re on vacation!  Take advantage of the massage therapy available at the lodge.  This will improve blood flow to your muscles, speed recovery, and feel darn good!  There’s no shame in being so relaxed you fall asleep on the table.

5.  Sauna.  This goes hand in hand with drinking water, stretching and getting a massage.  Sauna’s boost blood circulation (especially if you go for the snow roll between sessions), help you sweat out the stress of work and the beers you may have consumed the night before, and ours provides a perfect venue for sharing stories of your day.

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Cozy sauna!

 

6.  Smile.  Just like stretching warms you up for day of heli-skiing, smiling stretches your face, opens your mind, and builds the stoke of the entire group.  If you want to enjoy one of your best days of heli-skiing, start it with a smile (high-fives don’t hurt, either).

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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.