Why Purcell? Here’s why

We love to ski.

Skiing great powder in beautiful terrain is what we live for. That passion is contagious. Our staff have some of the best jobs going, and that makes it easy to create an environment for you to release your inner child into our wide winter playground. We’re fun, and you’ll feel it.

We group by ability. (Really)

Purcell is the pioneer of Custom Group Heli-Skiing, which offers in-the-field group customization and the best guide-to-guest ratio in the industry to give you the freedom to ski at your pace. Groups of 9 guests and 3 guides are split by ability, get their own guides, plus a tail guide to sweep for safety. No waiting if you’re fast, and no more pressure if you’re slower.

We’re professional.

For more than 40 years, we have held safety as the highest priority. Our team of dedicated professionals are highly trained, experienced, and will provide all guests with the tools to be aware and comfortable with their surroundings. Purcell’s owner, Rudi Gertsch, was instrumental in establishing the standards of heli-skiing safety in British Columbia, and we proudly meet and exceed those standards still.

We’re convenient.

We are the closest heli-ski operator to Banff making for easy day trips from Banff and Lake Louise, and right on the Trans-Canada highway. We specialize in single-day and flexible multi-day packages, so you have the freedom to fit heli-skiing into your holiday when it suits you best. If you have bad luck and the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can still get some turns instead of being stuck in a remote lodge – our local ski resort, Kicking Horse, is just a few minutes away. We’re also just a short hop from the great ski resorts of Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Our guides at Purcell (Rudi, Jeff and Hamish) gave us the best day Mother Nature would allow, and given the awesome terrain they they alone have access to, Mother Nature did not disappoint! A phenomenal day for the family - the guiding helped to create and foster a fantastic group spirit. I simply cannot recommend these guys highly enough.

Chris Q.

Purcell’s guides are miracle problem solvers and expert powder finders. I love riding with Purcell’s one big happy family! My only concern is they make it way too addictive!

Dawn W.

Everyone involved is friendly, remembers your name and is genuinely grateful you are there to ski with them. There is no pretense and I very much appreciate the personal relationship I have made with the team. Purcell provide a wonderful day no matter what is thrown at them. The skiing, of course, is amazing! Simple cannot wait for the next adventure.

Jeff W.

The conditions and terrain were outstanding. Everyone was made to feel welcome and part of the group. The guides made sure everyone had the chance to lay the first tracks, and the attention you pay to safety ensured we had a memorable experience. By far the best ski days that I have had in 30 years!

Ury T.

A reliable company working with top-class staff. Instructions beforehand are clear and inspire confidence. The manner in which the guides handled the difference in ability level within the group was very pleasant. They made sure everybody got the most out of it. Thank you guys!!

Jenny P.

I have well over 1500 ski days in my life. At least 400 in the last 7 years. This was my first heli trip and it was everything I’d hoped it would be – and more. Great communication, clarity of instructions, and confidence in the guides.

Bruce A.

My experience was one words cannot fully describe! The conditions and the runs we rode were unbelievable and truly breathtaking! Beyond that, the whole staff did such an incredible job at accommodating me that at no point did I feel like just a customer; rather, I felt like I was part of the family.

Dave M.

The people at Purcell are fantastic. Everyone is thoroughly professional and obviously very experienced. They looked after us very, very well. A first-rate operation in every way: safety, quality, customer service, organization, terrain – all great.

Bill K.

I had an amazing experience. You are a first-class outfit with seasoned staff that place safety as well as customer satisfaction first. The terrain speaks for itself – WOW! I am hooked on heli-skiing.

Todd T.

I loved skiing with a legend! The Gertsch history is amazing. Knowledge of terrain, affable guides, the ability to provide fantastic skiing in any conditions – and the customer care is excellent, from all Purcell staff involved.

Rob J.

It’s an easy day trip out of Banff or Lake Louise so the option of a single and multi-day trips is always there. The terrain to choose from is vast, so there’s so many options to deal with weather, stability, snow and skier ability. Most of all I felt safe at ALL times.

Paul C.

To all the GREAT STAFF at Purcell. Thank you very much for making my year! I had too much fun with all of you guys on Wednesday. You run a VERY professional Heli-show. You are in a very serious business, but still are able to inject tremendous fun into the whole experience, something which takes time to perfect I’m sure. Way to go!

John R.

This was supposed to be a once in a lifetime adventure, but it may become an annual thing! Thank you for one of the best days of my life, made even better by such a great team.

Jerry D.

We’ve been doing trips out west since ’92 and this was the BEST ski day we’ve had. Derek, thanks for taking great care of us and showing us some amazing terrain! We had a great day, a great group, and great guides. Thanks!

Glenn J.

Wonderful experience. Best heli operation I have ever boarded with. Safe and fun while challenging us vertical foot after vertical foot. The guides were knowledgeable, fun and great skiers. This place is the gateway to heaven! Well above and beyond all of my wildest dreams. Thanks very much guys.

Derek P.

Absolutely amazing! I had a wonderful time. I know I began with a million butterflies in my stomach but after the first run I was having a ball. A special thanks to Rudi and the whole team – you were so supportive and fun! I’ll be back next season! Thanks so much!

Lucy H.
Environmental Stewardship

At Purcell, we recognize the responsibility vested in us to sustain the health of the alpine environment. It is the wild nature of these areas that makes the activity of heli-skiing such a memorable privilege.

From wildlife awareness and avoidance, to fuel use, forestry practice, and daily recycling, we are guided by the philosophy of responsible use, and always seek to exceed government and industry standards. We believe that the mountains are there to be enjoyed, but enjoyed for all, for years to come.

Our Story

A simple history. A life of adventure.

No board of directors, no parent corporation, no fancy titles. From 1974 to the present day, Purcell has been owned and operated by the Gertsch family, who proudly call Golden home. It’s a simple formula that has persisted all these years: love what you do, do it well, share it with others. The opportunity to share the joy of heli-skiing with visitors from around the world is a tradition Rudi, and his son Jeff, intend to continue.

Rudi earned his full mountain guide certification in his native country of Switzerland. He immigrated to Canada in 1966, and his timing couldn’t have been better. He quickly became active in the guiding community in Banff, and started working for CMH in the summer of ‘66. By the winter of 1968 he had a job that had never existed before: he was a heli-ski guide. Working for CMH as a heli-ski guide was not only an unexpected thrill, it was to be the beginning of a lifelong career.

Eight years later, he decided to start an operation of his own, and Purcell Heli-Skiing was born. Golden as a mountain destination had already been established by the Swiss guides who came before, hired by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to safely promote mountaineering in the area. Purcell has proudly continued the tradition of mountain guiding that took root more than a century ago.

A short time later, Rudi, along with other early operators, saw the potential for promotion through cooperation. In 1978, the British Columbia Helicopter and Snowcat Skiing Operators Association (later renamed HeliCat Canada) was formed to define safety standards and operational guidelines. British Columbia has since become a leading destination of heli-skiing, recognized worldwide.

As long as there has been heli-skiing, Rudi has been onboard and out front. Jeff learned the family trade starting at three years old, and has become Rudi’s partner and lead guide. Today, as a small, locally owned company, we can offer our guests a flexible and personal attitude that adds as much to your experience as the quality of the snow.

Introducing, the fine people behind Purcell Heli-Skiing.

We may not all be related, but many of our staff have been with us long enough to feel like it. We are lucky enough to have a small, core group of talented and personable individuals with a high level of expertise and extensive experience that make us who we are. We believe in real, old-fashioned customer service, the kind where someone remembers your name. So first, allow us to introduce ourselves:

  • Rudi

    Purcell’s co-owner/operator, Rudi founded Purcell in 1974 and is one of the grandfathers of heli-skiing itself. Rudi came to Canada from Switzerland in 1966, and has since dedicated himself to guiding and promoting Golden’s skiing community to the world. He knows our terrain better than anyone, and we’re pretty sure still has more fun than anyone, too. Don’t let the grey hair fool you, he still catches air on a regular basis!

  • Jeff

    Purcell’s co-owner/operator, Rudi’s son and a third-generation guide, Jeff has been heli-skiing since he was three years old. His extensive experience and love of the backcountry are easy to see when you ski with him. Jeff oversees the guiding program, leads most of our exclusive groups, and can usually be seen with a video camera attached to him to catch all the action!

  • Katie

    Our multi-tasker extraordinaire, Katie’s role as office manager allows her to be involved with every aspect of Purcell, from marketing and media to IT or radio coordinator, but your reservation is her top priority. You’ll usually find her answering customer inquiries, but if you twist her arm, she can usually be talked into doing some “quality control” out on the slopes!

  • Kurt

    Kurt is second only to Rudi and Jeff in his knowledge and experience at Purcell. He has more than two decades of experience as a Mountain Guide, and guides year-round between Canada and Switzerland, where he lives beneath the North face of the Eiger. His passion for skiing and friendships made in the backcountry make him one fun guy to heli-ski with!

  • Bryan

    A key member of the Purcell family for many years, Bryan proudly calls Golden home. Whether on skis or snowboard, his tremendous energy for guiding, customer care skills, and uplifting personality have made him an irreplaceable part of our team. Bryan even managed to beat Jeff’s record by taking his son Edward heli-skiing at age two!

  • Mike

    A transplant from the prairies, Mike is driven to spend as much time as possible in the mountains. As an IFMGA Mountain Guide he actively guides all forms of climbing and skiing and spends his spare time either on his bike or traveling to new mountains to experience and explore.

  • Olivia

    Olivia lives in Canmore, Alberta. She moved to Western Canada in the late 90s to pursue her passion for mountains and rivers. She raft guided for numerous years in Northern BC and Alaska. She later became an ACMG Hiking Guide and Ski Guide. She has spent many years ski guiding in Northern BC but lately spends most of her winters guiding ski touring in the Selkirks. In her free time she is rowing her little son down rivers or hiking with him to new places. She also loves climbing and and road or mountain biking.

  • Markus

    Markus is an ACMG Apprentice Ski Guide and geologist, living in Golden with his wife and one mini tiger. When not skiing, he’s into long mountain bike ride in the alpine, brewing high-test craft beers and enjoying both with good friends. Who says there’s no friends on a powder day? Not Markus.

  • Jason

    Originally from a long line of east-coast fisherman, Jason grew up just outside Halifax, NS, where the BIG mountains are! He moved west about 15 years ago to find deeper snow, and has been hooked on the pow-pow ever since. Jason recently moved from his van into a house, in Golden, and spends his non-skiing time guiding rock climbing, road tripping, and doing yard work. Jason is an ACMG Apprentice Ski/Rock Guide, and holds ISIA (international ski instructor) qualification, with over 12 years of ski instruction/ski coaching experience.

  • Jeff

    A new resident to Golden, Jeff brings a diverse background in skiing, snowboarding and mountain safety to his role as tail guide. A ski and climbing bum through and through, he’s spent years living out of his van, pursuing adventure and outdoor work alike. With his dingo Milo at this side, Jeff takes on everything with passion and humour. Many of his heroes ski in denim, and he’ll be damned if he doesn’t learn to monoski this winter.

  • Phil

    Phil hails from Quebec and has held a ski pass every winter since he was three years old. He brings thirteen years of ski instructor experience to his role as a tail guide, plus fluency in three languages and a love of helping people accomplish new things on skis! Having spent his summer chasing more skiing and guiding in Portillo, Chile, Phil is officially a winter-only kind of guy.

  • Myriam

    Myriam is our number cruncher and all around behind-the-scenes expert, plus she speaks three languages fluently. Coming to work with us has rekindled a love of skiing for her, and she’ll be the first one to tell you what a thrill it is to heli-ski. We all love Myriam for her kind personality, and because she cuts all the cheques!

  • Claire

    Claire is stoked about skiing, photography, Golden, and life in general. She’s a frequent traveler, an avid gardener, and a talented artist. You’ll hear Claire’s voice when you call to book, and you just might see her sneaking around in the snow with her camera. Smile!

  • Carey

    Carey made the move west in the mid 90s to ski Powder King and hasn’t looked back. She’s been a Goldenite for the last 11 years, and loves winter like a true Canadian. She brings her friendly nature and attention to detail to the guest experience, and ensures the reservation process is easy and straightforward.

  • Ryan

    A long-time pilot for our helicopter provider, HeliQwest Aviation, Ryan’s flying exudes a sense of ease and confidence that only comes with many years of experience. His attention to detail and thorough knowledge of our terrain make getting there a smooth and fun experience. We’d like to apologize in advance for his terrible jokes.

  • Josh

    A heli-ski pilot who makes it all seem so easy, Josh’s approach is steady and easy-going. He waits patiently at the bottom for us after each steady flight, but (not-so) secretly wishes he could be skiing too!”

Over 50,000 people have heli-skied with us!

Our guides at Purcell (Rudi, Jeff and Hamish) gave us the best day Mother Nature would allow, and given the awesome terrain they they alone have access to, Mother Nature did not disappoint! A phenomenal day for the family - the guiding helped to create and foster a fantastic group spirit. I simply cannot recommend these guys highly enough.

Chris Q.

Purcell’s guides are miracle problem solvers and expert powder finders. I love riding with Purcell’s one big happy family! My only concern is they make it way too addictive!

Dawn W.

Everyone involved is friendly, remembers your name and is genuinely grateful you are there to ski with them. There is no pretense and I very much appreciate the personal relationship I have made with the team. Purcell provide a wonderful day no matter what is thrown at them. The skiing, of course, is amazing! Simple cannot wait for the next adventure.

Jeff W.

The conditions and terrain were outstanding. Everyone was made to feel welcome and part of the group. The guides made sure everyone had the chance to lay the first tracks, and the attention you pay to safety ensured we had a memorable experience. By far the best ski days that I have had in 30 years!

Ury T.

A reliable company working with top-class staff. Instructions beforehand are clear and inspire confidence. The manner in which the guides handled the difference in ability level within the group was very pleasant. They made sure everybody got the most out of it. Thank you guys!!

Jenny P.

I have well over 1500 ski days in my life. At least 400 in the last 7 years. This was my first heli trip and it was everything I’d hoped it would be – and more. Great communication, clarity of instructions, and confidence in the guides.

Bruce A.

My experience was one words cannot fully describe! The conditions and the runs we rode were unbelievable and truly breathtaking! Beyond that, the whole staff did such an incredible job at accommodating me that at no point did I feel like just a customer; rather, I felt like I was part of the family.

Dave M.

The people at Purcell are fantastic. Everyone is thoroughly professional and obviously very experienced. They looked after us very, very well. A first-rate operation in every way: safety, quality, customer service, organization, terrain – all great.

Bill K.

I had an amazing experience. You are a first-class outfit with seasoned staff that place safety as well as customer satisfaction first. The terrain speaks for itself – WOW! I am hooked on heli-skiing.

Todd T.

I loved skiing with a legend! The Gertsch history is amazing. Knowledge of terrain, affable guides, the ability to provide fantastic skiing in any conditions – and the customer care is excellent, from all Purcell staff involved.

Rob J.

It’s an easy day trip out of Banff or Lake Louise so the option of a single and multi-day trips is always there. The terrain to choose from is vast, so there’s so many options to deal with weather, stability, snow and skier ability. Most of all I felt safe at ALL times.

Paul C.

To all the GREAT STAFF at Purcell. Thank you very much for making my year! I had too much fun with all of you guys on Wednesday. You run a VERY professional Heli-show. You are in a very serious business, but still are able to inject tremendous fun into the whole experience, something which takes time to perfect I’m sure. Way to go!

John R.

This was supposed to be a once in a lifetime adventure, but it may become an annual thing! Thank you for one of the best days of my life, made even better by such a great team.

Jerry D.

We’ve been doing trips out west since ’92 and this was the BEST ski day we’ve had. Derek, thanks for taking great care of us and showing us some amazing terrain! We had a great day, a great group, and great guides. Thanks!

Glenn J.

Wonderful experience. Best heli operation I have ever boarded with. Safe and fun while challenging us vertical foot after vertical foot. The guides were knowledgeable, fun and great skiers. This place is the gateway to heaven! Well above and beyond all of my wildest dreams. Thanks very much guys.

Derek P.

Absolutely amazing! I had a wonderful time. I know I began with a million butterflies in my stomach but after the first run I was having a ball. A special thanks to Rudi and the whole team – you were so supportive and fun! I’ll be back next season! Thanks so much!

Lucy H.

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