Back in the Heli Again…

CMH K2 transport ship

Sure beats Uber…

After my accident in Valdez, one of the questions people most frequently asked me was whether I would ever heliski again. For me, the accident had less to do with heliskiing than with the inherent risks involved in riding big mountains. The big question for me was whether I’d be physically able to ride again at all, not where I would do so if I could. So once the docs gave me the okay and CMH advertised that they were having a half price sale, I didn’t think twice about booking a helitrip in British Columbia where I have had so many great experiences previously.

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Home sweet home…

I had never previously been to a CMH operation (they have 11 lodges spread throughout British Columbia) and had always thought of them as the big box store of heliskiing. I had no doubt that they they offered a great experience, but was used to going with smaller operators and smaller groups. However they were making an offer we couldn’t refuse, so we decided to try something different and boy did that turn out to be a great decision.

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The syndicate

The biggest difference between this trip and past ones is that we would be riding in a bigger helicopter with a group of 10. Theoretically, this could have meant fewer untracked lines, and longer wait times but in reality it meant just more folks to celebrate the amazing conditions with that we were fortunate to have all week. BC has had an excellent early season and after a long stretch of on and off snow, we managed to catch the first stretch of sunny days with cold temps and no wind to disturb our precious bounty.

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Before…

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After…

One of our big concerns with any heli operation is whether they “farm” their snow – that is they insist that skiers/riders stay close to one another in order to save as much untracked as possible for future groups. So we were thrilled to discover that our guides had a very much laissez-faire approach to our chosen routes down the hill. Basically all they required was that we meet up at the bottom of the hill so everyone got to enjoy fresh lines no matter when or where they started. And because the snow stability was excellent and their terrain is primarily classic Kootenay tree skiing, we got to ride steep untracked lines all day long. What else could we ask for?

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You don’t always need a helicopter to catch some air…

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Aaron shows how free heelers do it

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Kevin with his usual cat swallowing the canary look…

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Trevor with his V for Victory pose…

Originally, this trip was going to be a reunion of our “core four” – the same group that went to Revelstoke and Valdez together two years ago. Unfortunately, one of the founding members had to drop out but came up with a worthy replacement as seen directly above. We then spread the word and picked up three more associates who ripped along with us.

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Did I mention how beautiful it was…

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everywhere you looked…

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and when you got there…

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there were never any tracks…

Since we had nothing but bluebird days, the scenery was spectacular everywhere you turned and the late December sunlight was glorious all day. This led to an abundance of picture taking of our very photogenic crew.

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Aaron finding his zen…

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What me worry?

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Who took this photo?

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Our staff photographer, Kevin Edwards, of course…

My good buddy Kevin always complains that I never give him photo credit so I’m going to publicly state right now that any good photo of me is his doing and I owe him dearly for that as well as all the times he pulls me out of a flat spot. Who says skiers and snowboarders can’t get along?

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But enough scenery shots…

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let’s get back to why we were really there…

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to find deep powder…

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to rip turns through…

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run after run…

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and I’ve got to say…

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it was absolutely worth…

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every second…

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of my…

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rehab.

Of course, we need to thank all the great folks at the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge for the delicious food, comfy accommodations, rides to the Nakusp Hot Springs after skiing, and most of all the incredible guiding and terrain they provided for four amazing days!

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Cool sign too…

It’s really hard to capture just how fabulous the skiing/riding was with just some still photos especially because when you’re in the middle of an incredible run, stopping to take a photo generally isn’t at the top of your priority list. Fortunately we also shot a ton of video but cutting that into something that someone other than the participants would want to watch is a rather large task. In my past life, I was once a video editor so I may attempt to do just that but for now you’ll just have to settle for this tease.

And yes, my surgically rebuilt knee held up just fine, so there will be more tales from the Gluten Free Snowboarder. I need to thank my surgeon for sewing me back together, my physical therapists for working me hard, my family for helping me in times of need and my friends for telling me I’d be back. It not only takes a village to raise a child, but also to put a broken snowboarder back on the mountain. Thanks everyone, and see you on the slopes!!!


12 Responses to “Back in the Heli Again…”

  • Tom Menk Says:

    Man, I am sooo happy for you Brad. Good to see you back riding the big mountains again with Kevin and your gang!

  • Nancy Says:

    So happy to see this and thanks for sharing! Life does indeed, go on and your residence and perseverance are inspiring!

  • Nancy Says:

    Resilience, duh spell check!

  • Liz Coker Says:

    So wonderful to see you back at it in full force. Amazingly beautiful & I’m sure it felt good to refill your soul.

  • Greg Says:

    Brad
    What a great comeback story. Keep safe, keep charging.

  • Steph Curry Says:

    Is that you in the dreads? You’ve come a long way, Grasshopper. Glad you had a heli good time.

  • Karen Fewsmith Says:

    WOW!Happy to receive your update and so thrilled to see the awesome spectacular photos and read of your amazing trip! I had no idea if you’d be able to ski the green groomers let alone heli-ski. How inspiring! It gives me more hope and determination in dealing with my own physical challenges! Thanks for sharing cuz. Put a big smile on my face. Happy Trails!

  • Geoffrey Gilbert Says:

    Fly like an eagle. You’re living large, brother.

  • Joel Says:

    Great to see you back at it!

  • Candi Says:

    I’m smiling and cheering!!!

  • Grant Says:

    Nice work…I wonder why life gives us the best rewards after it kicks our butt…peace

  • Jerry Hoffman Says:

    Brad buddy,

    Sensational. I knew you’d bounce back and do your thing in Pow. Stoked the knee is no longer an issue (I predicted you wouldn’t miss a beat) and all the joy you earn by making turns. I’m heading to Kicking Horse and Revelstoke next week with NASJA-West media group. Heading to Calgary Saturday. Thanks for the Gluten free update. Looks like you had one hell of a time. Someday I hope we can make the snow scene together. Aloha.

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