PRESS RELEASE: Alterra acquires Purcell Heli-Skiing
CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures adds Purcell Heli-Skiing to operations, creating CMH Purcell
Alterra Mountain Company closes purchase in time for Winter 2021/22
Banff, AB – August 30, 2021: Today, Alterra Mountain Company announced it has purchased Purcell Heli-Skiing in British Columbia. CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, which is owned by Alterra Mountain Company, will fold Purcell Heli-Skiing’s business and ski tenure into its existing operations.
Owned and operated by Swiss mountain guide Rudi Gertsch and his family since 1974, Purcell Heli-Skiing operates single-day, two-day and three-day heli-ski trips out of Golden, B.C. in the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges. It is the closest major heli-skiing operation to Calgary and is just two hours west of Banff, A.B.
With the acquisition, the newly minted CMH Purcell will become CMH’s 12th heli-ski destination and will add 495,000 acres of backcountry tenure to more than 3 million acres of existing terrain. The addition includes more than 250 ski runs in the Caribou, McMurdo, Duncan, Canyon, Spillimacheen, International Basin and Baird drainages.
The sale represents a full-circle moment that brings together the stories of three of the founders of the sport of heli-skiing. Gertsch previously guided for CMH in the 1960s. He is responsible for helping to teach CMH founders and pioneers of heli-skiing, Hans Gmoser and Leo Grillmair, how to guide downhill skiing, as the duo was originally most familiar with guiding mountaineers.
In 1974, Gertsch left CMH and struck out on his own to create Purcell Heli-Skiing. Since then, he has helped shape the heli-skiing industry. Gertsch is a founding member of HeliCat Canada and is responsible for establishing many of the industry’s standards for safety, client care, operating methods and environmental stewardship. Notably, he has been integral to developing the concept of heli-skiing tenures in B.C. and advocating for their long-term use and stewardship.
“Everything has come full circle,” said Gertsch. “I have a profound feeling of professional satisfaction at this point in my life, knowing that the story of our business reaches back to those common origins, and will now stretch forward into the future. Purcell is in the best possible hands with CMH Heli-Skiing.”
“When it was time to consider selling, we knew as a family that CMH Heli-Skiing was the only choice to be Purcell’s next home. CMH is an icon,” said Jeff Gertsch, Rudi’s son and heli-skiing guide. “It’s about where Rudi started his journey, and about the company’s future. We want Purcell to reach its potential and CMH’s vision, scale and respect for the craft will ensure it endures.”
For the 2021/22 winter season, CMH will honour and operate all booked Purcell trips to date, and guests will continue to be guided by Jeff Gertsch, who is now a full-time CMH guide. CMH will continue to offer Purcell’s style of small-group heli-skiing with one, two and three-day trips in the Purcell tenure.
“I’m thrilled that Rudi, Jeff and Katie chose CMH to help carry their legacy into a very bright future,” said Rob Rohn, CMH President and Chief Operating Officer. “Rudi has been such a pivotal figure in the founding of our company and an inspiration to an entire generation of guides in Canada. The addition of CMH Purcell creates some exciting new options for CMH guests, and we look forward to introducing Purcell’s guests to all that we have to offer.”
For more information about CMH Purcell, visit cmhheli.com.
About CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures
Celebrating more than 55 years of heli-adventures, CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures is the world’s first and largest heli-skiing and heli-accessed hiking operator. At more than 3 million acres, the total CMH tenure is one-third the size of Switzerland. From its head office in Banff, Alberta, CMH operates from 12 destinations located in the Bugaboo, Purcell, Selkirk, Monashee and Cariboo ranges of British Columbia, Canada. Heli-skiing takes place each year from December through April, and CMH Summer Adventures take place from July to mid-September. For more information, please visit cmhheli.com and cmhsummer.com
About Purcell Heli-Skiing (Now CMH Purcell)
Established by Swiss mountain guide Rudi Gertsch, the Golden, BC-based heli-skiing company spans 495,000 acres of backcountry tenure in the Purcell and Selkirk Mountain Ranges. It offers small-group skiing with one-day, two-day and three-day trips just 2 hours west of Banff, AB. Purcell Heli-Skiing was owned and operated by the Gertsch family from 1974-2021 and was acquired by Alterra Mountain Company in August 2021. It is now operated by Alterra’s CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures under the new name, CMH Purcell.
CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures
Message from the Gertsch family:
The story I have for you today is the most important one I’ve ever told. And it’s in reverse.
It starts with an ending, and finishes with a beginning.
First, the ending:
Purcell Heli-Skiing has been acquired by Alterra Mountain Company and will be folded into CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, joining the CMH family of incredible backcountry destinations.
Our magnificent operating area and lodge will become the new home of CMH Purcell.
Deciding to sell a family business, especially one that’s been in the family as long as ours, is not a move anyone makes lightly.
Today we cross a finish line. Today is the culmination of countless hours taking stock, looking back, and looking forward – acknowledging the pride of where we’ve been, the potential still unrealized, and recognizing who needs to guide that future.
It’s the result of acting on that which has been part of our DNA from the very beginning: how do we take this tradition into the future?
And when it came to the question of who we would trust with that future, for Rudi, there was only one answer: CMH.
When Rudi struck out on his own in 1974, after guiding for CMH during some of the first years of heli-skiing anywhere on Earth, Purcell Heli-Skiing was born.
And while CMH and Purcell took their own distinct directions in the decades that have passed, Rudi has always felt that, in terms of core values, we’ve been running on parallel tracks.
The tradition of guiding. Professionalism and safety above all else. The experience of the guest at the centre. The preservation of history. The courage to adapt.
Most of all, CMH has never forgotten what a rare privilege it is to have access to the wild backcountry in the way that we do.
That’s why we’re here today.
So for Rudi, this moment is everything coming full circle. A return to the original family, the original spirit of a group of adventurers and guides at the horizon of something new.
Because what’s to come is a synthesis.
Here we are at the beginning.
What stays is our format – still led by Jeff – a small group of six guests with a private helicopter, two guides, and a massive area of untouched powder to explore.
What comes in to support that is broader resources and some of the best people in the industry.
The truth is, the places out there, in that mountainous terrain we know so well, and the experiences we take home when we visit them, are more important than us.
That’s how we know the legacy continues unbroken.
When things of value are placed in good hands, there will always be more of that story to tell.
And our part of the story can’t be complete without expressing our immense gratitude to all of you. For all the support, the trust, the patronage, the connections, the friendship, and of course, the days spent in fantastic places.
Thank you. It has been the stuff of our lives, and will shape us forever.
This message was the final newsletter that we, for years, have called The Yodel. It was conceived as a call from one to another, because we don’t do any of this alone.
Rudi’s not going to stop skiing, or yodeling. But he sure likes the sound of the choir. Because now, there’s an incredible team ready to carry that voice further.
We are happy. We are proud. We can’t wait to see what the future holds, and the epic experiences in store for you.
If you’re coming to join us this winter, Jeff and our team of guides will be here to welcome you.
~ Rudi, Jeff and Katie Gertsch