Heli Skiing Conditions Update – March 2015

March 2015 held its promises at Last Frontier. The unusual extended period of sunny skies in late February pushed us to ski some remote parts of our tenures in Week 10 and early week 11. Through some exciting exploration, we established an array of new classic descents. Even after 20 years of operation, there are still plenty of firsts descents to be had.

breathtaking alpine views

Breathtaking alpine views. | Photo: Hans-Joerg Franz

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Helmet or No Helmet?

Wearing a helmet really isn't that big a deal.  Photo - Dave Silver

Wearing a helmet really isn’t that big a deal. Just ask our guides. They seem to not mind at all…
Photo – Dave Silver

For most of my ski career, I have not worn a helmet. I was one of those skiers that was adamantly against having to wear a helmet to ski. Two years ago, when we were mandated in the ski patrol to wear helmets at work, was the first time I wore a helmet skiing. But even then, on my days off, I would still only wear a toque and goggles and leave the helmet at home. But this year that changed. First, I found a helmet that fit well and that I really liked and second, I realized that not wearing a brain bucket was just stupid. The helmet protects my head, plain and simple, so why would I not want that for myself? Continue reading

History’s most influential steep skiers Part 2 – The Contemporaries

Last week we profiled some of the world’s first purveyors of extreme skiing in History’s most influential steep skiers Part 1 – The Pioneers. As the sport evolved in both equipment and skill, a new wave of steep skiers brought the sport into the mainstream spotlight through innovation, exploration and showmanship. This week we bring you five of the most influential steep skiers of the modern era.

Doug Coombs is credited with bringing commercial heli skiing to Alaska | Photo Doug Coombs Foundation

Doug Coombs is credited with bringing commercial heli skiing to Alaska | Photo Doug Coombs Foundation

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Poles. Size matters.

While our skis, boards, boots and bindings tend to hold well-deserved high priority status in terms of careful gear selection, poles are a key piece of equipment not to be undervalued. The wrong poles can greatly hinder your progress as a shredder-in-training as their weight, length and function can have a significant impact on your form (and fun). Not convinced? Read on.

Put your best pole forward | Photo: Dave Silver

Put your best pole forward | Photo: Dave Silver

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The Leatherman MUT EOD: A Multi-Tool for the End of the World

Up until recently, my experience with multi-tools has always ended in disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, I see how useful the swiss army/plier combo can be. But after owning several swiss army knives and several multi-tools, I always seem to wander back to just carrying a really good, strong, folding knife. Having a blade is incredibly handy. I use mine, especially at work, several times each and every day. But more than that, a good knife doesn’t break. My experience with multi tools, be it from Victorinox, Leatherman or Gerber is that they just don’t stand up to the punishment of everyday use; they do everything poorly and are awkward to use. All those moving parts tend to come loose or break after a few months of daily use. Last year, however, a friend of mine purchased the biggest, burliest, most bad-ass multi-tool I have ever seen and after seeing it in action for a few weeks, I decided to get one for myself.

The EOD. The burliest multi tool on the market.  Photo - Leatherman.com

The Leatherman MUT EOD. The burliest multi tool on the market.
Photo – Leatherman.com

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History’s most influential steep skiers Part 1 – The Pioneers

Skiers can do some impressive things in the mountains these days. Technology has changed, allowing athletes at the forefront of the sport to both ascend and descend more efficiently and demonstrate near-death defying aerial maneuvres.

But before the age of rockered skis and double back flips, skiing the steeps was all about survival. The drive to become the first to ski some of the world’s most hazardous mountain faces has propelled these five alpinists into the book of steep skiing legend, at great risk to their own lives.

Stefano De Benedetti skis the north face of Mont Blanc | Photo TetonAT

Stefano De Benedetti skis the north face of Mont Blanc | Photo TetonAT

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Skiing Superstitions

It’s Friday the 13th – our second in a row, as a matter of fact – so we’re going to embrace the spooky and explore the debatable logic behind rituals and routines when it comes to skiing. Whether it’s your traditional breakfast at the same coffee shop every Saturday, the order in which you gear up or the fact that you always try to sit on the inside of the chair lift, you’ve probably got a few skiing superstitions worth admitting to…

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Skiing and Waiting – Enjoying the Downtime

Skiing is my favourite thing to do in life. The conditions don’t matter. Icy, corn, groomed, crud, chop, waist deep, over-the-head pow…all of it is fun. Few things compare to the absolute bliss of being outside and sliding along the snow on two skis. But one thing fairly unique to skiing is the waiting. Waiting? Yep. Any skier out there will tell you how much time we spend waiting. Waiting in line for a ticket, waiting for the lifts to open, waiting in the liftline, riding the chair, riding the gondola, waiting for your friend to make it up the boot back, waiting for the high alpine lifts to open, waiting for winter, waiting for the next storm. Waiting for your ski date (the worst kind of waiting). But the waiting time is important time.

Even heliskiing there's some down time. Use it wisely.  Photo - Blake Jorgenson

Probably the best form of waiting – that of waiting for a helicopter to take you back up for another epic lap.
Photo – Blake Jorgenson

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A skier’s guide to car-free living

We all know that skiers are great at living carefree, but what about car-free?

Unless you’re one of the small percentage of people who are lucky enough to live slope-side, skiing involves commuting, whether it’s the weekend rush from the urban centre or hopping on the shuttle bus to your local ski hill.
One thing is for sure, owning a vehicle as a skier is a luxury, one that should not be taken for granted in this day and age of responsible carbon emissions. That said, there are still thousands of skiers that make their way to the powder on a daily basis without a car. Here are some of the ways that they do it.

Hitching in pairs can meet long wait times on the highway shoulder

Hitching in pairs can meet long wait times on the highway shoulder | Photo: Ron Ledoux

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Spring Break Survival

For some, Spring Break is a welcome departure from routines and the daily grind, a chance to get away and let loose. For others, however, it can actually be a really stressful time as kids are out of school and the expectation to DO SOMETHING FUN is overwhelming, not to mention potentially very expensive. If you haven’t already planned a vacation to, say, a remote heli ski lodge for the week, we’ve got some ideas to help make this the best Spring Break ever, so far.

Winning Spring Break I Photo: Reuben Krabbe

Winning Spring Break | Photo: Reuben Krabbe

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Ski Patrol – A Real Job

It happens to ski patrollers at every resort. A guest gets on the chairlift, sees the crosses on the jacket and asks: ‘So…do you guys just ski around all day? Do they pay you for that?’ I usually don’t dissuade them. On most days, I do just ski around, and yes, they pay me for it. Occasionally though, I am tempted to give the guest a true sense of what it is we do with our day.

Cheat death, save lives and blow shit up.  Photo - Jonas Hoke

The author getting his avalanche control on. Nothing like throwing bombs first thing in the morning. 
Photo – Jonas Hoke

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Snow Friends make the Best Friends

With little room left to escape intrusive digital forms of communication, spending time in the outdoors becomes critical for keeping mental sanity. Thankfully, the Canadian Pacific Northwest has plenty of raw, untamed  backcountry on offer. The mountains here have become a space where I can appreciate a simpler life and nurture my most precious friendships, away from my stressful everyday lifestyle.

Nothing like an open mountain panorama to fuel the soul/ Photo: Caton Garvie

Nothing like an open mountain panorama to fuel the soul | Photo: Caton Garvie

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Kids In The Backcountry

Anyone who’s spent any amount of time flip-flopping between pain and gain in the name of fun can attest to the invaluable lessons offered by adventures in the backcountry. Certainly, well known programs like Outward Bound and NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) have been promoting the experiential education model for decades, building upon theory and pedagogy from the likes of Kurt Hahn and the Duke of Edinburgh to build compassionate, skilled and socially active youth in response to a perceived increase in apathy and laziness thanks to post-war consumerism and modern technology. But are there limits as to who can and should be spending time out of bounds and out of range? Is there a place for kids in the backcountry?

Kid friendly? Photo: Reuben Krabbe

Kid friendly? Photo: Reuben Krabbe

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Trying Something New

It’s not often as adults that we get to try something new. Life’s daily grind tends to dampen the spirit of our inner explorer. With age it becomes even more difficult to escape our comfort zone to try new things. But every time I make the effort to learn a new skill or try a new sport, I almost always have fun doing so. So why is it so hard? And how do we re-kindle the explorer in us? Hang out with a six year old. They have the whole trying new stuff thing dialled.

Heli Ski Experience

We promise not to get you too far out of your comfort zone…
Photo – Dave Silver

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Top 5 backcountry meals under 10$

Unless you are riding in a resort, there are few opportunities to purchase a hearty meal on the mountain. Therefore planning your meals ahead becomes critical. With experience, regular backcountry skiers get to know how their stomachs respond to different foods and can pack according to needs of their metabolism. Over many years of ski touring I realized that while each skier has his food preferences, there are distinct trends in the food diet of a backcountry skier. Below is a list of my favourite cheap backcountry meals.

A hearty meal guarantees a longer ski day | Photo: Dave Silver

A hearty meal guarantees a longer ski day | Photo: Dave Silver

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