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Snowwater Heli Skiing
Author - Ashleigh McIvor
Date - 2/16/2007

Before this trip I had never been heli-skiing, and I thought it was all about being put-up in a huge lodge, where it would be tough to get to know your guide, and you’d potentially get stuck with a big group of gorbies who only want to ski wide open bowls with barely any pitch to them. Nope…I was way off! Snowwater’s set-up is really quite intimate, with the main lodge being more like a really nicely-finished ski cabin, small ski groups and super-chill guides. We rolled in at dinner time and the crew immediately had us doing shots of Jager in the living room around the fire. The dinner was absolutely off the hook. Full-on 5 course fine dining. The filet mignon was as tender as is possibly imaginable and I thought I was going to hit the sack and have a great sleep, but Kenny Good Times and Scooby-Doo rocked up on their sleds and I don’t think any of us got much sleep.


Lucky for us, mornings aren’t ridiculously early at SnoH20, so it was all good that we were moving a little bit slowly. We got our avalanche talks and beacon searches out of the way and flew off with Scott Newsome in a big, powerful heli. Actually I had no idea that it was a particularly cool heli, but Smiley was quick to point that out. He was really excited about it.


A lot of the slopes that faced the sun had slid or were about to slide. The first place we got dropped turned out to be a bit sketchy as far as stability goes, so Scott made an executive decision and we safely skied around it. It was really comforting to have a guide who’s as dialed as Scott is. Richie and Smiley knew him when he lived in Whistler years ago, and both had told me that he’s an absolute shredder. He is actually the first person to have been certified as a snowboard guide through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), which is really quite the accomplishment. He did manage to find us some awesome powdies, and it was cool that he was so chill.  Even though he could have been a full-on pro snowboarder and gone that route, he’s more stoked to just shred for himself and spread the love to people who share that same passion through teaching avalanche courses and guiding. I loved that he didn’t give a shit about Smiley and Richie’s ‘pro’ status and he’d throw out hilarious comments if they pussied-out on something. He kept “meow”ing, but he has such a mellow, laid-back attitude that nobody could really take offence or get annoyed by it: Richie actually stepped it up and hit a really nice drop. Maybe he didn’t want to get meowed at.


It was really great to have Richie and Smiley with me for my first heli trip cause they’re both so experienced and are totally on top of their backcountry game. Smiley dropped in first on one pitch and the whole thing let go above him. He tried to point it downhill and get ahead of it but it was all slabbing around him as he rode a big chunk down. He was able to get out to the side of it, to the spot he’d checked-out from above and noted as a safe escape and he was fine. Then Cory went down and another fracture almost wiped him out. I told Richie he cold go next (so kind of me) and he actually pulled the chute and we, again, safely skied around it in Scott’s tracks. So, yeah, I was glad to have some old(er) guys their to take care of me.


The next day was beautiful blue-bird (again), and we had another extremely accomplished guide. He got us to the top of this beautiful pitch that was really steep and had lots of fun terrain to play with. We had this chick with us, MC Laravee, who won the Big Lines scholarship, and she scoped out a really nice line. It started off crazy steep and funneled into a little gully, then opened-up again into beauty pow and perfectly spaced little trees. Lucky for me, she left room for me to the left of her line, where I thought there was going to be a nice little drop (but it just rolled over) into a different little gully. GT’s all around. I gained a lot of respect for skiers that get one look at a slope and then drop in and hit huge cliffs and gnarly lines going only on what they can see from above. We all got a couple of laps in that zone…well all except for Richie who managed to weasel his way into the other group and get 3 or 4 more laps than we did! That little shit!


We got a fun roller-coaster-like ride in the heli back to the lodge and geared-up to ski down the cat track to Cory’s pimpin’ suburban. Now that was fun! It was like a long, really dark, skiercross and we were all laughing the whole way. Smiley got confused and aired off the road into some shrubbery.  He thought he could see the road below, like we were coming to a switch-back, but he ended-up having to hike out. We unloaded the cat that was following us with all of our gear, and ripped into Nelson for a big night at the Rez.  


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