Arturo and I took a day off our skiing in Whistler to do Heli Skiing:
You can find more pictures on Google Photos
Outside of 2 little heli jumps across the next ridge at Silverton, I had not had the chance to do heli skiing so far, so when I planned the trip to Whistler with Arturo, the weather made it obvious that we should go heli skiing after the first day where we'd just enjoy the fresh snowfall in the resort.
Whistler Heli Skiing has a good operation and 3 different groups you can select 3, 4, or 6 runs. They are also sorted by experience, the 6 run package being only for experienced power skiiers/snowboarders. Thankfully Arturo and I easily qualified :)
We showed up around 08:30 to be sent to the bus base, and by 10:00 or so, we were done with the pretty extensive avalanche training since avalanches are a real danger there, especially the day we went.
Since I'm a pilot, I took a few heli pictures, sorry :)
Once we arrived, we went for an easy run as a warmup and for our guide (John) to see if any of us sucked, or not :) He also shoveled a big piece of snow so that he could analyse the layers and gauge the risk of avalanche (and report that to the other guides):
the red flag showed the end of the run and landing spot for the heli
We then did more runs, power was good, but sadly the runs were not very steep for the most part. I think we were limited with the overcast layer and general weather that prevented the heli from going to potentially better spots:
We did trigger a huge slide under where we were. It was eery: the ground actually collapsed under us as the entire layer compacted itself. Maybe it was only 10 or 20cm at most, but it was weird. Then we saw a bit slide on the side of the place we were standing on:
After our 5th run, we had lunch in the snow:
And we had just enough time for a 6th run, which was nicer and steeper, but visibility contrast was poor, so you couldn't easily tell the terrain in front of you, whether it was going up or down:
Thanks for Arturo for taking a few pictures for me :)
Despite the non ideal weather conditions and the runs that weren't very steep for an advanced group, it was the best possible for the week we came, so we made the best of it :) (but the runs we did at Silverton were better)
The only lowlight was the second run where I just didn't see (and it's almost invisible on video too) a small ramp in the snow that threw me when I wasn't ready for it, and caused me to land tip first and do a pretty bad tumble forward around my head and my board. Unsurprisingly, my back muscles were hurting that evening from being stretched that far and violently, but enough advil, hot tub and icing mostly took care of it.
My final impressions:
Professional company and excellent guide with a clear emphasis on safety in an avalanche prone terrain
Good Helicopter and pilot
Only 3:30 there, including lunch. I'd have loved double (but the weather sure didn't allow that)
Our rides (except for the last) were too easy. I'm guessing we were restricted in terrain choice by the weather, which is a shame because almost half of each ride was just keeping your speed up while riding in a track so as not to run out of speed in the powder
Although the vertical changes were not great (around 14,000ft for 6 runs, actually almost the same as what I'd get at kirkwood except kirkwood is steeper), the scenery was super pretty
sadly the weather made contrast hard and it was difficult to pick out relief in a sea of white (this made me not see the bump that threw me up in run #2 and cause to crash badly)
Here are the 6 runs in 4K goodness (I crash badly if Run #2, start at offset 2:00 to see Arturo crash, and then me):