Heli-boarding, The Best Week of my Life

Last week was the best week of my life.  My dad and I spent the week at the CMH Galena lodge, where we had perhaps the best heli-skiing and heli-boarding experience imaginable.  Seriously, I want to cry tears of joy and excitement just thinking about it.  I’ll start with a highlight video I made, followed by the story, and conclude with my photos.  Fuckin’ A I need to do this again.

Foreplay

The trip started Friday night.  My dad and I flew into Calgary and stayed the night at a nearby hotel.  The CMH busses left Saturday morning at 6:00am, each en route to its respective lodge, ours headed towards Galena, an area just south of Revelstoke, British Columbia.  We were accompanied by several of my dad’s friends and lots of other CMH customers, to make a total of 44 boarders and skiers.

The bus dropped us off at the snowy helipad sometime around 2:00pm.  The helicopter shuttled all of us to the lodge, along with our luggage, 12 or so people at a time.  Around 4:00pm we were all at the lodge, a beautiful, quant place only accessible by helicopter and snowmobile during the winter months.  Before sunset we all had our snow gear on while we attended a snow safety course explaining the use of avalanche transceivers, probes, the helicopters, and everything else.

Go Time

Sunday was the first of six and a half days of untracked, seemingly endless tree skiing/boarding.  Each full day was more or less the same.  My dad would wake me up at 6:45am for a 7:00am stretch class lead by my dad’s 75-year-old friend, Dick.  After stretch class I’d return to the room, shower, and read a little.  At 8:00am we’d all eat breakfast prepared by the awesome CMH chefs.  And the first 11-person group of skiers and boarders would leave at 9:00am.

For the next three-to-four hours we’d ski and board untracked, deep powder on steep and interesting gladed tree pitches.  Each group of 11 is joined by at least one guide.  The guides know the terrain so well they’re able to make sure we get the best line every time.  They’d often point out cliffs, pillows, and mushrooms that they knew I’d be interested in hucking.

Sometime between 12:00 and 1:00pm the second helicopter would bring the 44 of us lunch, which was usually composed of awesome sandwiches, chocolates, cookies, soup, and bars.  Then, after a short lunch we’d return to skiing/boarding, returning back to the lodge before 5:00pm.

Upon arrival at the lodge we’d hang our gear in the drying room, which is equipped with glove, boot, jacket, and pant holders designed to help your gear dry out. I’d put my compression tights on, snack and have a beer at the bar, read a little, then join the group for dinner at 7:00pm. We’d eat, drink wine, and enjoy a (usually) leisurely dinner. Then, most nights I’d retire to my bed and be asleep at 9:00pm, completely exhausted from the day’s fun.

The second Saturday of our journey started with a half day of skiing and ended with a helicopter shuttle and a return 8-hour bus ride.  We flew home from Calgary first thing Sunday morning.

Holy Shit

The boarding was absolutely stunning.  Every run I couldn’t help but laugh, hoot and holler, and scream at the top of my lungs.  Lungs filled with excitement, adrenal, and pure joy.  We had a particularly excellent week, with new snow, stable conditions (less avalanche danger), and only a few visibility problems due to some lower fog.  In the 6.5 days we hit the hill, we descended 130,000 vertical feet of untracked tree skiing.  Thousands of turns, hundreds of face shots, tens of hucked cliffs, and two busted bindings.  The terrain couldn’t have been better — steep, interesting, different.  I hit a few 40-foot cliffs, greeted at the bottom by soft landings.

The two best runs were Lake Avenue and No Hotties, each gladed, steep pitches through forests charred and burnt by past fires.  The black, branchless trees paired with the steep pitch made for a super fast, insanely invigorating ride over and around bumps, blazing towards the beautiful valley bottom lined on the opposite side by tall, stony mountains.

Holy shit I’m speechless and can’t possibly put into words the pure passion I’m feeling as I write this.  I’ll just leave you with photos.  I need to do this again.

  • Mike welch

    Hey Alex, Cool write up. Was great having you up last week. Look forward to doing it again next yr.
    Cheers Mike

  • Jim

    Great Blog, Alex. 2 of the photos Mike took of you at Galena are featured on the website of CMH. Fantastic trip.
    Next year!
    dad

  • http://twitter.com/alex_lod Alex Loddengaard

    I realize i didn’t mention how awesome the staff was ;). Hopefully see you next year, Mike! Thanks for everything.

  • http://blog.maxaller.name/ Max

    s/Foreplay/Foreword/ ?

  • http://twitter.com/alex_lod Alex Loddengaard

    Haha, no. Foreplay, the activities we did before boarding :).

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