There are two types of riders: those who have gone heli-skiing and those who want to go. I can finally, after so many years of dreaming, count myself among the latter. Like a 40 year-old virgin, I had my heli cherry popped deep in the Monashees with Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing and it was everything I hoped it would be…love at first slash.
We left Golden early on Friday morning early to make sure that a sudden road closure didn’t jeopardize our trip. I felt like a kid waiting for Santa to come, except this was way better than a fat stranger committing a home invasion to eat your cookies. This was flying through the Monashees in a freakin’ helicopter! How rockstar is that?
We chose Eagle Pass for a few reasons, not the least of which being the fact that they focus on small groups which allows them to give a nice personal experience and less waiting than with bigger groups. That, and the fact that you can do single days. I could only afford one day, so that really narrowed my options. But EPHS was my first choice anyways due to the epic snow that falls in the Monashee mountains.
Once we got to Revelstoke we dropped into the offices of Eagle Pass to say hi. These guys have a great retail space downtown where you can buy clothing, goggles and even outerwear from Eddie Bauer, the outerwear brand that works with Eagle Pass to keep its guides and staff supplied with gear to get the job done.
The videos on the big screens gave me a taste of what was to come. Like a pre-teen catching a few minutes of soft porn on late night TV, I couldn’t take my eyes off the incredible terrain.
We checked into our room at the Swiss Chalet motel to drop our gear and chill for a bit. I’ve stayed in lots of hotels and I can honestly say that this place has some seriously comfortable beds. They’re great people, so check them out should you ever be so lucky to find yourself “Revelstuck”.
Friday night there was a fundraiser for CARDA (Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association) at the Big Eddy Pub. We thought that sounded like a perfectly acceptable excuse to break our self-imposed “keeping it mellow” rule. We had a great time
getting drunk supporting the great work that CARDA does. We did however, disappear from the party early.
The Saturday morning 6am wake up call was completely unnecessary. I was already awake, stoked and nervous as I’ve ever been, making my preparations for the big day. Would I be able to perform? Yeah, I got this…. The EPHS shuttle arrived right on time and took us to the brand new day ski base located just west of the town of Revelstoke. This posh facility allows guests to get ready and go over the safety briefing in comfort and style.
Eagle Pass provides absolutely everything you need for a safe and enjoyable day in the backcountry. They set you up with an avalanche transceiver, probe, shovel, radio and BCA Float 22 airbag. Never used such tools before? No worries, the guides give great training to get you up to a level of comfort using the gear provided in the very unlikely event of an incident.
Also, if your boards weren’t really designed for pow-slaying missions, EPHS has you covered. There is an entire fleet of Lib Tech skis and snowboards to choose from. This is an awesome perk that can make your day that much more incredible.
Once the safety meeting was over and we were all geared up, our guide Ty assigned us to groups of four and it was time to…wait for it…”GET TO THE CHOPPER!” I’ve always wanted a legitimate reason to say that. Once we were all loaded and buckled in, our pilot Matt flew us about 10 minutes up to our first drop. I had never been in a chopper and I was pretty excited to finally get this over with.
True Fact: helicopters rule.
Our group consisted of our guide Ty (the only other snowboarder), myself & Tim from Biglines, Marker from San Francisco and Sebastian from Germany. Ty led the way after informing us that we were free to choose our own line as long as we didn’t stray too far. This was where we all discovered the abilities of our group. We set off into some of the most amazing pow I’ve ever experienced on a run called “Tipping the Cow”.
As soon as I sunk that first turn deep into the Monashee pow, I instantly understood what all the hype was about. I almost blew it by rag-dolling into a tree well but I was able slash my way back to the bird without blowing all my street cred load.
The terrain was totally amazing. Open glades that continued into a tighter forest that finally ended at the edge of a frozen lake. We all arrived at the end of the roughly 1500′ descent in a pretty tight group. Everyone was hyped to say the least. We gave Ty our gear and huddled together for our next bump which quickly arrived: thats heli-speak for a lift to the top of the next peak.
What followed was a day worthy of the word “EPIC”. We continued to rip line after seemingly endless line of sweet Monashee pow, each run better than the one before. The crew at Eagle Pass delivered the goods on every run, much to our collective delight.
By noon we were all ready for a break and a leg rest. We were provided much needed water, soup and sandwiches, tea, cookies and chocolate.
I love eating lunch in the backcountry. Especially when you know that more great snow awaits.
The afternoon found us on a run called “Victoria’s Secret” which reminded of the catalogs I used to steal from my Mum. This sexy line was laced with the best snow of the day. Victoria held huge open fields of untracked snow that led into super fun, launchable rollers. Her curves then got steep again before opening into a massive football field full of pillows waiting to be popped. This run was so good that we all decided to do it again, and again, and again.
What a girl, that Victoria. She showed me the way. From now on, when I hear the term “Victoria’s Secret”, I will have an even more beautiful image in my head.
Much like my Prom Night back in 1990, this was an experience that I’ll never forget. Eagle Pass Helisking is a top notch operation with an awesome team of people, all the way from the office staff to the guides and pilots. Everyone made us feel welcome, safe and just like old friends. If you can ante up for a day with them, you’ll always remember it, just like it was your first time.