Heli Skiing From Panorama Mountain Resort

Heli Skiing From Panorama Mountain Resort

This day, without question has to be in my top 5 ever – I love Heli Skiing!

If you love skiing as much as I do and you can’t get enough of bashing through endless powder fields then this is the best experience you could wish for. Sitting in a helicopter with a group of skiiers and boarders, heading through the National Park and then landing on a mountain peak in the distance is unbelievable.  The adrenaline, the anticipation and the the protocol of diving out of a helicopter – grabbing your ski’s and then heading down an un-tracked mountain side is something else. We are talking waist deep powder every run, a minimum of 5 runs in total and each run must have taken about 45 minutes to get to the pick up point before we were swept away by our very own helicopter.

Organised by my pal Rupert at Ski Safari, we used the very experienced RK Heli Ski centre which is based out of Invermere in British Colombia. Panorama was a mountain resort we spent 2/3 days at as we continued our trek throuhg BC and the Canadian Rockies on this 3 week trip. Just to let you know Ski Safari are a quality mid to high end ski tour operator that specialise in organising multicentre ski trips in North America. It’s the sort of operator where you pick up the car, all the accommodation is arranged for you and then you travel between different resorts and properties depending on what you have booked. In my opinion (and having worked in the industry) this type of company works for me, it is minimal fuss, assistance is there if you need it and the type of holiday gives you complete flexibility to do what you want.  I think on this trip we also went to Ferne, Kicking Horse, Banf, Lake Louise and 3 or 4 other smaller resorts.

This particular day started at about 6am I seem to remember.

We arrived at the Heli-Centre early, Rupert had organised some great rates as he worked in the industry, we checked all of our gear, signed away the papers and then we sat around waiting for the rest of our group to arrive.  Fiddling with our avalanche transceivers, I remember the thoughts passing through my head as I think about how good the other skiers could be and whether my off piste skiing was good enough?

Navigating and soaring through the valleys the helicopters noise and ability to maneouvre was so impressive. Then the helicopter eventually lands as it positions itself literally on a overhang on a mountain peak with steep drops either side – all we have to do is dive out under the propellers, grab our gear and then get ourselves ready for the first descent. This took about 10 – 15 minutes.

Our mountain guide informed us about how the group was going to work and he gave us a strong briefing about the type of terrain. I remember it was a north facing slope (less sunlight and safer), we were going down 1 at a time and we were thinking about the lines we were all taking just so we all had the best and safest descent down possible.

So here we were, ready to do one of the runs of our lives and the heart was racing. I think I went second or third down and it was everything I hoped it would be. The first 10 metres or so were steep so it was a matter of adjusting my skiing position, getting a feel for the snow and anticipating what sort of approach I would take for my first heli ski run ever.

It was simple, I settled in with my rhythym, I soon started gasping for air as the snow continually covered my face and I remember looking around at the fellow skiiers as I anticipated hitting a forest in about half a mile.

It is hard to put into words exactly what this experience is all about.

It’s like one of those perfect powder days going on and on and on.

It was about pushing the legs as hard as possible and making sure that you get the best experience  possible as we eventually arrive safely back with the rest of the group with an ear to ear grin representing sheer satisfaction.

If you are a virgin ‘Heli Skier’ like I was then I think that this set up has got to be one of the best out there! My reasons for saying such a thing is purely down to the ski conditions in British Colmbia and my experience on the day.

Thanks Rupert!