I just spent seven days heli-skiing at the CMH Galena Lodge in British Columbia (December 22-29, 2012). This was my first heli trip and I wanted to share this experience because, perhaps like you, I had been dreaming about a heli trip for years but wasn’t sure what it would be like.
Enjoy this journey through one week of incredible skiing! If you have questions, I included links and email addresses at the bottom of this post. Also, please read the trip reports from my more recent trips to CMH Monashee Lodge in 2013 and CMH Bobbie Burns Lodge in 2016.
Day 0, December 22, 2012
I was so excited to be going to Galena, I texted Chris Davenport because I knew he had been there as well. Here's his reply to me...needless to
Day 1, December 23, 2012
"Take the best run of your life, do 10+ of them in a day, and do it for 6 days in a row - that's
I'll post more action shots soon, but here's an idea of how much snow is on the ground...
16" of light snow on top
36" of skiable snow (light on top, spongy below)
7 feet of base (89 inches or 225 centimeters)
This is at the base...imagine how much snow is at the top.
When life-long skiers smile like this, you know it's good
The scenery is as beautiful as the skiing
There's so much snow, every terrain feature becomes a playground
Day 2, December 24, 2012
I was going to write a long narrative about how good today was. I was going to try to make the writing as beautiful as the skiing. But instead, I copied below an email I wrote to a good friend right after I got off the mountain. I think it exactly captures how I feel and how good it was.
"Best day of skiing in my life. Period. Clear skies. No Wind. 15-20 degrees. A good 15-20 inches of fluffy stuff on top and a deep
We exited the helicopter into waist-deep snow
On top of the world! Rolling alpine pitches followed by steeper trees.
Gorgeous views of skiable terrain
Are you kidding me? Nope. It was this good.
A perfect night after a perfect day.
Day 3, December 25, 2012
Today was play time.
I usually hate jumping, but these landings are so soft, so why not? Tons of fun!
In the comments, James Griffin wrote the perfect description of what it's like to ski in British Columbia after spending a lot of time in Colorado and the Rockies. He points out that for eastern US skiers, the chance to ski Colorado or other areas in the western US is a game changer. And going from Colorado and the Rockies to British Columbia is a similar type of game changer, both in terms of terrain and snow quality. I've skied for 27 years over about 900 days and the last three days are the most fun I've had since I started skiing at age four.
Day 4, December 26, 2012
It was another great day, though my legs didn't warm up until the third run. In Colorado, I usually don't ski from 9am-4pm with a short lunch break but rather ski a few hours in the morning with friends or do a nice backcountry tour. So my legs, while in pretty good shape, aren't necessarily used to all this skiing, and at 2,500-3,000ft vertical per run, it's real skiing all the way from top to bottom. Some light snow fell during the morning while the skies were mostly sunny, which is always fun to see. Lots more steep yet open tree runs today. I think we did eight runs and I'm now just shy of 100,000 vertical feet skied in four days. Good snow + good weather + a strong group = lots of skiing!
Smooth, buttery snow through long tree runs. Does it get much better?
Day 5, December 27, 2012
I keep thinking that I've seen all that Galena has to offer, and then we have a day like today. A few inches of fluffy snow fell on top of an already deep and soft base, so the fast and open tree runs were especially fun, and we also explored one of the most fun areas of terrain I've ever seen. Our last two runs were in a playful area with steep lines, pillows, and cliffs. The coolest part was that everyone in our group of 11 could find something for them. Our most experienced jumpers including J Weingast and Air Japan (a man and a woman from Japan that jump off of EVERYTHING) tried the bigger stuff, myself and a few others pushed our limits and hit some 10-15
J Weingast finding the fluff. (photo: Megan Gilman)
Joel Gratz enjoying yet another untracked run. (photo: Megan Gilman)
Megan Gilman can't find her legs in the pow. (photo: J Weingast)
J Weingast sending it (and he skied perfectly out of the landing)
photo: Megan Gilman
Day 6, December 28, 2012
I have a good friend Brad that lives in Boulder and has been
"Yes it [heli skiing in British Columbia] will forever change your definition of "epic" but a good powder turn is a good powder turn no matter where it happens. The thing is that a
I'm not the most eloquent writer, so it's hard for me to adequately describe the joy of
A few more pictures...
First turn of the first run on Friday. Snow is soft, so go for it!
Not a bad lunch spot, eh? Megan Gilman & Jason Weingast enjoy the view.
The terrain ranges from perfect turns in the wide open high
...fun rollers and
...jumps with perfectly soft, squishy landings (not mandatory, but too much fun to resist).
And the best part is that it only takes 5-10 minutes between runs!
Day 7, December 29, 2012 (the last day)
It was the perfect end to a perfect week. A quick-moving storm from the north moved in during the early morning hours and snow fell from about
Snow moved in during the early morning hours.
Nice-sized flakes falling silently through big trees greeted us on our first run.
Morning report: 9 inches of
Our group of 9 numbered 11 for most of the week, representing five countries.
(USA, Japan, Brazil, France, Switzerland)
Megan Gilman bounds through the powder (photo: Jason Weingast).
Joel Gratz attempts to copy Megan's grace with marginal success.
(photo: Jason Weingast)
Mike Oliver of Denver finds the freshies (photo: Jason Weingast).
Joel Gratz enjoys perfect powder (photo: Jason Weingast).
Megan Gilman & Jason Weingast
The Last Word from Galena 2012
For more information…
- read through the comments below
- see all of CMH’s upcoming trips at the CMH website
- email me with specific questions: Joel Gratz <[email protected]>
- email CMH’s sales rep for more information about booking a trip: Brad Nichols <[email protected]>
Heli-skiing is just one of many ways to enjoy sliding down snow … and boy is it fun!!