Flow Tailgate BC Day 4: Eagle Pass Heliskiing!
12 Mar, 2012
To say I was excited to win a day of Eagle Pass Heliskiing was an understatement. It was a dream come true and I was so excited, so stoked and so ready for my first experience on a heli. Despite all the anticipation, I made sure to get a good night’s sleep to prepare myself for today. I was nervous about it, but didn’t let nerves take over. I wanted this experience to be amazing and it definitely delivered despite some weather complications in the morning.
This morning, we met up at 8am at the Tailgate BC base camp where Eagle Pass Heliskiing had their booth. I arrived early so I could switch out boards, grab my pre-made lunch from the restaurant and double check the gear I needed. There were a couple other groups so I wasn’t sure which one I would be in but I was pretty happy to be getting out no matter who I was riding with.
We made our way over to the Three Valley Gap where we went over avalanche and backcountry safety, practiced beacon finding and got geared up for the day. It felt good to have my avy 1 accomplished just in case.
Eagle Pass Heliskiing provides all the gear so you don’t need your own backpack, beacon, probe, shovel because they supply a BCA Airbag backpack with a charged beacon, probe and shovel for you. It was sweet to see that I’d be using the BCA airbag that I already own and start getting used to where the pull cable is in case things go wrong.
The Heli arrived to take the first group out onto the snow and we waited for the heli to come back to get us to our drop off point. I ended up being with a group of skiers for the day but we had a blast talking in the heli. One of them was a Wrongful Dismal Lawyer, funny stuff!
My group for the morning
Unfortunately by the time we made it up into the sky, the stormy fog came in and started making it difficult to find a hole in the coverage to get through. So we cruised around on the heli, exploring options and then made our way back to the base location. We ended up trying two times in the heli during the morning to get out and dropped off but it wasn’t working with the weather. I certainly appreciate safety and the heli pilot did a great job of making sure we were safe to get out in the terrain. Sometimes you can’t fight mother nature.
Since it was around lunch, we ate our lunches in the parking lot and waited to hear the news. Two of the guys in our group had to get on the road to a cat trip so they ducked out when we moved locations. That meant that Josh and I were the only ones in our heli for the afternoon (heck yeah!).
Once we made it to our new location, probably around 1:30pm we waited for the call from the heli to see if we were gonna get out. Luck was on our side and they told us it was a go. We got back into the heli and hoped the third time up was a charm. The heli was super comfortable and fun to check out the views along the ride up the mountain ridges.
This time we went in for the landing and it was stoke time! I was ready after waiting all morning, just a taste of powder and I’d be happy. It’s pretty crazy to be that close to a heli, the snow swirling around you as you get dropped off at the top of whatever area you’ll be riding down. You huddle close and just wait until it’s over.
Shot of me huddling all smiles during our first drop off
We had guide Greg for the day and he was awesome. He made sure we could handle the terrain and then took us up to harder stuff for the afternoon.
The first run was definitely getting my powder feet back under me and getting used to the Jones Hovercraft again. It took a couple turns but by the time we made it through the bottom of the run, I felt much more comfortable and was ready to rip up the pow. I did have my best crashes that first run, completely flipped over without meaning to.
Josh from Calgary was my riding buddy for the day and we ended up being a perfect match, we could haul, we could wait for each other, we took photos of each other. Thanks to him, the day was soo rad!
Shot of Josh and Greg at the bottom while waiting for the heli to bring us back to the top
The second lap through felt the best. I had a better idea of the terrain we were on and could get comfortable in the trees. The best part about the day was this was blower snow, every turn was choking on snow cause it was so deep and when it opened up, it was really awesome for just carving down the powder.
Guide Greg going into the trees
Josh spraying up the light fluffy pow
Natural features to jump, I hit one accidentally and landed. Josh hit one and landed as well!
After those two runs on more mellow terrain (28 degrees), we headed up to a different spot for some steeper riding. Since the avy danger was questionable, we stayed in the trees to have better snow and less danger for us riding.
Jones Hovercraft. Thank you Chad and Josh for letting me borrow this board, it was perfect today!
Looking back up at the trees and seeing Josh coming down
We met up with the rest of the groups for lunch, tea and chile that the guides brought. It was a good downtime but definitely wanted to get back out on the snow. At lunch, we got another person in our group for the afternoon. John from New York joined us for the afternoon, he was pretty tired and the powder was catching up to him so it took longer to get each lap but it was fine.
Pretty amazing view of the heli coming in
The best run of the day was this one. We made our way up higher to a steeper ridgeline that looked awesome.
John and Josh at the top where we were dropped off
I went in second after the Greg the guide and just rode the ridgeline. He warned us to not go left so I stayed right on it cruising through the ridge and trees next to them. When I saw him stopped, I stopped and looked back up at my turns.
Josh in the trees
We ended up on one scary section that wasn’t that scary but our guide made sure to prepare us for it. There were two gullies side by side so we split into two groups, two people per each gulley. Then he warned us about sluff and letting it go by without taking you with it. It was the first feeling of how snow can drag you down the hill. We released some sluff and held onto the side of the run to get down the gulley. I took it slow and didn’t turn till the very end. This pic was taken at the very bottom where you can see the runout from our snow.
Josh in the powder at the bottom of the run
Today was one of the happiest days of my life. The powder was great, I was having a great time and despite the scary backcountry…I was just enjoying it and hoping for the best. Josh ended up being a great photographer with my camera and it was rad to be able to get photos of me riding for the day.
Shot of me in the trees (barely see me in the blue/grey in the center)
The last run of the day, Josh took the camera and got a sequence shot of me spraying up the snow. Seriously thank you Josh for this shot.
Starting the turn
Happiest girl in the world today.
At the very end of that run, we realized it was already after 5pm and probably time to go back. It was good to feel that I was keeping up and still wanting more powder turns despite the 5 runs we already did. Right as we got to the bottom and were getting our gear off, Josh ended up pulling his BCA airbag cord and poof it exploded out and saved his life from the cat tracks. I was laughing so hard because it was hilarious and I was glad it wasn’t me that accidentally pulled it.
At the end of the day, I felt like I was on drugs and addicted to this latest adventure. First time in a heli, first time heli snowboarding and amazing powder turns. A huge thanks to Eagle Pass Heliskiing for the party and raffle prize of this. I was incredibly lucky to be able to win a day of heli and soo stoked it was with such a great operation.