Travelogue Heliskiing in Canada | Epique - Mountain Adventures

Heli Skiing Bell 2 Lodge – Esther

A few years ago when I saw a video of my brother skiing through the deep snow, I was bouncing behind my computer. I thought that was cool!! He was heli-skiing in Canada. A wish was born with me. How wonderful it would be to experience that once in a lifetime.

At the beginning of this year, the time had come. Saved a long time to be able to do this together with my brother who I have been skiing with all my life. Pre-visit Michiel van Epique – Mountain Adventures who have everything
provided for us. Looking at the map there, I realized how far we would travel for this adventure. We were going to go skiing for 5 days far away and very far away from civilization. Deep in the mountains of Canada, close to Alaska.

First we flew together to Vancouver and from Vancouver on to Smithers, British Columbia. In Smithers there are only 4 traffic lights, in short we were already quite far from Vancouver and civilization. From Smithers we have to drive another 4 hours to Bell 2 Lodge. A 4 hour drive on the ‘highway of tears. The Highway of Tears refers to a 724 km long Yellowhead Highway in British Columbia. Many women, especially Native Americans, have disappeared or been found murdered along this highway. The Highway of Tears is part of a larger, national crisis of missing and murdered Native American women and girls. This crisis has remained unresolved to this day… This provided an extra dimension and the sense of freedom that I as a woman could do this. During the 4 hour trip we only took 1 exit. Furthermore, it was a long road with snow-covered trees, trees, trees and more trees left and right. It is hard for us Dutch to realize that the environment does not change. What a vastness. If we drive 4 hours to the south we pass through 3 countries that all have their own
have their own atmosphere, different language and different culture.

Bell 2 Lodge is a lodge built along the road. The lodge was built at a gas station where the huge impressive ‘road trains’ come to refuel. The accommodation is very authentic. Per 2 people you have a floor of your own lodge, with a wood stove in the room. Upon arrival, we immediately received a briefing and subsequent avalanche training. I thought it was quite exciting at the time. I had never skied with an avalanche beeper and the fact that we would need it made me alert to danger and that creates a certain tension. Very important to do and take that seriously. In the lodge there are people from all corners of the world who share the love for skiing and adventure. These kind of trips cost a lot of money, but the great thing is that it’s not about that. I marveled at the quality of the food. It’s really fantastic. No American scenes or portions, but healthy, fresh (!) and very tasty. I enjoyed it every day, including the lunch boxes that went with the helicopter. You have lunch in the snow on the mountain. A table and bench are shoveled from snow. Hot tea and soup…

Like most people, I had never been in a helicopter and the helicopter would be our means of transport for the next few days. I thought that was a weird idea! The briefing ‘what to do’ when the helicopter lands,
how you get in, get out, what to do with your skis etc, I found exciting and exciting. Every morning at 0600 the guides start together to collect all the data about the weather and make a plan for the day. We started every morning at 07:00 with stretch class followed by breakfast and a briefing of the day.

And there we finally went. We shared the helicopter with 2 Belgians, Jelle and Bruno. Very cosy. Every day you have a different guide and you learn something from each guide and you experience it in a different way. The first day the weather was not so clear, then the helicopter does not go that high (read not above the tree line). So after a year of not skiing we were immediately in a forest with snow up to your waist. With heli skiing you use very wide skis (fatboys) so that you float better on the snow. So this first day was quite hard work for various reasons. Long journey (9 hours time difference), high in the mountains, not skiing for a year, trees and deep snow. But what fun we had! Every now and then you dived into a thick layer of snow. Then get up again, that’s hard work.

The following days the weather was clearer. It’s truly magical to fly the heli above the clouds, watch the guide and pilot pick a mountain top and then just get dropped off there! The descents sometimes already have names, the descent ‘golden girl’ I will not forget in my life. We danced over the virgin deep snow, the sun shone and reflected snow crystals and there was no one in the distance at all. All us and ‘the golden girl’. At times I had to stop myself from realizing where I was and what I was doing, in order to fully absorb what I was experiencing. It was a totally new sensation. New, overwhelming and even moving. By now we were of course used to the deep snow and we had adapted our piste technique to deep snow.

We were able to ski for 5 days, made a lot of altitude miles and thoroughly enjoyed it. I now know that I think it’s really cool to be able to be so deeply in nature, experience, meet. I secretly hope there will be another…

Esther

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