POST

2July 2019

Q&A: What exactly happens before take-off?

Good morning!

We meet at 8:00am, but we won’t be up in the air until 9:00am.

What happens during the prep hour? Here’s what:

 

THE GEAR

Need some powder skis or a snowboard? We’ll get you set up.

heli sk guide carrying powder snowboard

THE GAME PLAN

After welcome and introductions, your guide will tell you what we expect for the day, based on what they know so far.

What the weather is forecasted to do (so you can layer up appropriately), what the skiing has been like the days leading up to today, and what kind of terrain we expect to get to.

If there was a big wind event or a ton of new snow overnight, the exact conditions and best terrain to come may still be somewhat unknown. There could be some discovery ahead.

But we’re here to orient you, and create a team atmosphere, and that means sharing the game plan so you know what to expect.

 

THE SAFETY TALK

This part is all about an honest look at possible hazards, and how to avoid or manage them should they arise. Heli-skiing in B.C. is highly regulated and has an outstanding safety record, but part of that solid reputation is built on preparedness and education, so every guest feels comfortable and confident in their surroundings.

We’ll have you sign a waiver, and cover a couple basics about how skiing as a guided group in unmarked terrain is different than skiing inbounds.

Part (a)  Avalanche awareness and beacon training

If you were ever witness to or caught in an avalanche, we’ll teach you how to recognize it, what to do to get out, or how to look for the right info to help with a search. We’ll talk about how our safety equipment works, how to use it efficiently with a team, and how your beacon (or transceiver) will find a signal.

You’ll have a chance to go outside and practice with your own beacon, showing us you can reliably follow its signals to find a target.

Part (b) Helicopter safety

This final part of prep happens at the machine before boarding. Your guides will have very important instructions about how to approach the heli, how to manage your skis or snowboard under the blades, and how to load and unload safely.

This is also your chance to meet the pilot, who’ll have some more safety info to share in case of emergency.

Been heli-skiing before, heard the spiel, and wondering if you can skip it?

No, sorry, you can’t. From a legal point of view, it’s required, no matter how many times you’ve heard it. And besides, is there any harm in hearing this stuff frequently? More familiar = safer = better.

 

Our briefing takes about an hour.

Maybe a little longer, depending on how many questions people have as we go.

Because we fly with only one group of six each day, the morning is thorough but efficient, since we don’t have to get 40 people through a beacon practice. There’s time to address people’s individual questions and make sure the whole team is thumbs-up-ready-to-fly.

Didn’t hear something you still want to know before you load up? Get your guide’s attention and ask. They might not be able to predict everything to come, but YOU are their priority for the day ahead.

 

Want to see more photos of what happens next? Here’s a breakdown of our terrain zones. ALL YOURS.

 

 

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