Banff – The day that changed EVERYTHING!

070220 – 0500 – The alarm goes off, I had barely any sleep. The reason for that was that today I knew would be a very special day! Me and Anders were going to be picked up in one hour and fifteen minutes with a bus taking us back to Panorama and RK Heliplex. It was time to take the virginity of flying a helicopter and also do some heli-skiing!!

The white mini-bus in form of a Chevy picked us up just outside the front desk at Hidden Ridge. First we stopped at a few hotels in Banff to pick up a few more people before we were on our way.

Both me and Anders were thrilled, coz we knew it would be a great day. An expensive day, but none the less, a great one!

The drive going from Banff to Panorama is very scenic, but unfortunately (or fortunately, we later found out) it was all cloudy and snowy so the road conditions were not as good as they could have been. The driver took it not overly cautious and way too fast sometimes for my nerves not to jump up a bit little now and then. It was only me and Anders that talked among ourselves, the others slept, or tried to rest. We were way to hyper for that! During our trip I pointed out points of interest for Anders (if they actually were interesting for them is uncertain yet today) ;))

When we got closer to Panorama, I had so much to tell him about Staff Accommodation, Central Check-In, the hill etc etc.

One hour later we stood ready after eating breakfast, getting a safety briefing with the chopper, avalanche transceivers and other fun stuff.Since me and Anders ended up in the ‘Expert Group’ or as we like to call it the ‘Extreme Powder Team’, we got the ride out with the chopper to our first landing spot to our first run and the other two groups had to take the vans.

Anders HeliskiingStefan in chopper

We climbed aboard the chopper and buckled in, the machine was starting to twist the rotors faster and faster, until the whole chopper was just shaking. The fumes and smell of flight fuel was quite heavy at this time and I felt a bit nauseated, I thought to myself “I hope this smell goes away soon, so I can enjoy the flying and skiing”. Sure enough, just after take-off the fans did their jobs and the air was soon changed with new fresh mountain air again.

It took about 10min of flying to reach our first drop off. Rosie’s Run. We departed the chopper and cuddled up in a big group as we were thought in the instructions before take-off. After all skis were unloaded, doors were shut and locked, we could stand up in this new wintery landscape which had tons and tons of snow.It was snowing quite hard at this time too, and we were just looking at one plot to see how much new fresh pow pow we actually had received. 28cm it read!! That was on top of another 30cm that came the night before and that in turn on top of some bit older, so there was with other words, no lack of snow!! ;))

Anders ripping it up Chopper

We got our skis on and got ready for our first run and it was…. …eehmmm… …AMAZING! ;)) I have been a bit spoiled when it comes to powder, with my year in Fernie, but it was still very very nice indeed! It did not take many turns before we both got our first face-shoots and as the day progressed, they became more and more, larger and larger.

Our guide Graham told us that with his 12years of guiding experience, if he would rate the quality of the snow and the day after the first run on a scale one to ten, it was a 9.5!!!

We came down from the first run and was waiting for the chopper to come and take us back up again for our second run. 5-10min later the chopper could be heard in the distance and we all got excited again!

Stefan making snowangels Stefan making snow angels

We cuddled up in a giant Heliski pile of people, and hang-on to each other when the chopper landed. We all got in, but soon got the sad information that the chopper pilot could not fly in this kind of condition so the engines were turned off and we had to sit and keep warm in the chopper for a while. 20-30min later the guide, opened the side door and told us that we might as well do our lunch while we were waiting so we didn’t have to waste more time later with that.

Said and done, 5min later food was served and it consisted of a sandwich, mars-bar, energy drink and some camomile tea. While eating the snow was easing and the weather was clearing up just slightly. This in combination of the information we got from Graham that the other side of the valley had received 50cm of fresh over night!! We were all excited that we could go over there later this afternoon. After the lunch we got all up in the chopper again and we took of up to the same drop-off point again to do a slightly different run but with the same start and end point.

Stefan in the pow Stefan and Anders satisfied...

After that amazing run Graham told us that because of the inconvenience for us with the delay earlier RK Heli would give us one extra run for free if the weather would stabilize and clear up during the afternoon.

Since the Gods are on my and Anders side, the weather did clear, the snowing stopped and some blue skies could be seen little here and there.

The next run were even better than the last one, and the next one after that was even better than that… hard to explain in words how it feels to glide through the deep light fluffy snow like we did and just enjoy life with the largest grin on our faces.

Having face shots so large it’s a hazard going on after the first on and you have to wipe the snow away and just when you have done that you get the next one! Lovely!

It was a day full of adrenaline and positive energy, geez, it is ranked without a doubt in the top 5 memories from my life!

Please have a look at the pictures and movies, you will have a better understanding what I am talking about after looking at them.

If you like skiing or boarding, and you haven’t tried heli-skiing/boarding yet. Whatever you do, try it at least once in your life! You are worth it, so go ahead spoil yourself!!

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