How to get ski fit for Heli Skiing
So, you’ve booked your heli-ski trip. Your bags are packed and you’re ready to go – just like John Denver’s song Leaving on a Jet Plane. Yet, have you appropriately trained for what-could-possibly be the trip of a lifetime?
Getting ready for heli skiing goes beyond properly packing your suitcase. It’s important to be both physically and mentally fit. It’s hard getting in shape, especially when the days shorten and the temperatures drop. Staying in bed with a large box of chocolates and a glass of wine becomes more attractive than sweating and fretting while running laps around city blocks, trying to get those dreamy skier abs.
Regardless, the more fit you become, the more fun you’ll have dropping into that 2,000 metre run in waist-deep snow on a remote peak in northern B.C. Don’t worry – you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to go heli-skiing, but the sport does require some vigour.
On average, our guests ski more than 43,000 vertical metres per week, which is almost five times the height of Everest. Skiing out of a helicopter all day and shredding fluffy B.C. powder can be a little tough on the legs. Having strong legs and limber hips will reduce the potential for injury and help you get the most out of your trip at Last Frontier Heliskiing. Here are some tips to help you get ski fit:
It’s obvious, but cannot be stressed enough. If you want to be fit and in ski shape, the best is to ski. Lots. For me, the first run of the season is horrendous. My legs are noodles, the world is flying by too fast and I become speechless as my lungs busily compose a strongly-worded letter of protest. However, with each run, I gather strength and control. After a few days, I no longer need my pocket french fries for morale.
You can go to the gym all you want, but it’s never going to be as good as strapping planks to your feet and zipping down slopes. Anyways, skiing is way more fun than stomach crunches and the stair master. So, if you can, check out your local ski resort. Or if you have some time, start your holiday early. Guests coming to Last Frontier Heliskiing pass through the northern hubs of Smithers or Terrace, B.C. They are small towns with local ski hills Shames Mountain and Hudson Bay Mountain, both will help you acclimatize and get ski fit.
For some, skiing beforehand might not be possible. But don’t worry – it’s not the end of the world. Still, your body likes to move. If you can, try and be active throughout your week. This includes cardio workouts, such as running, cycling or swimming, which will help boost your performance, especially as you’ll be exerting yourself at altitude as some of our peaks where the runs start are well above 2,000 metres.
Simple exercises, like riding your bike to work, playing badminton during lunch, even taking the stairs over the elevator help to get you in shape. My 74-year-old dad gets ready for the ski season by filling his 80-litre backpack with old encyclopedias and marching up and down Bear Hill, behind his home. Anything that gets your blood pumping and your lungs working will do the trick.
Prepare Those Knees
The most common ski injury is damaged knees. To help strengthen them, try wall sits, calf raises, lunges, straight leg raises and hamstring curls. Even just stretching after each workout will help prevent injury and you get heli-ski fit. Stretching helps burn off lactic acid after workouts and keeps your body limber.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
The climber Sir Edmund Hillary once said, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” Mental health is just as important as physical strength. Getting mentally ready for heli skiing can include researching about skiing, talking to friends about skiing or simply just skiing. Perhaps getting mentally healthy entails binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix, making frittatas, or puppy snuggles. In the end, you know what’s best for you. So, do that.
Once you’re mentally and physically prepared, just like John Denver sings, you can close your eyes and be on your way.
Dreaming about the days to come.