15October 2018

The Longest Heli-Ski Run of All Time

Our first go at “heli-skiing” anywhere other than here in B.C. was in Switzerland, back in 2011.

I say “heli-skiing” with quotes because heli-skiing over there really isn’t the same as what we do here.

It was one heli-drop on Äbenie Flue in the Bernese Alps, one of just a few spots allowed, only with a Mountain Guide leading the way.

We took off from the shadowy valley bottom of Stechelberg, a notch of a village at 910 metres, flanked by enormous mountains, and flew up, up, up like a corkscrew to over 3900 metres.

A short descent and then further climb from there (with skins, then scrambling in ski boots over rock, then bootpacking), led us even higher, with one long, LONG run as the adventure of the day.

Ski mountaineering bootpack across snow spine

Because of spring temps, we got up there early, and aimed to make it down 2500 metres (8,200 feet) by early afternoon.

A 2500 metre run might sound like the vert jackpot of all time, but the reality is, through 2500 metres of vertical, you’re traveling through several microclimates, which means all kinds of snow conditions.

But we were ready. (Jeff, Kurt and others admittedly were more ready than me, but that’s usually how I roll.)

We started down on ice, then through wind-pressed powder, then some heinous breakable crust, which I’m pretty sure was 1000 metres in itself, but I’m told the traumatic memory has inflated that number.

We tip-toed our way through a broken glacier, passing giant crevasses and protruding blue ice.

Look closely at the photo below. No, more closely than that. You gotta SQUINT.

See the tiny dots that look like ants? That’s another party coming down behind us. We were finally in a place that felt manageable to stop, look back, and try to process what we just skied.

And that was barely past half-way down.

Looking back up broken glacier at skied terrain

Narrow route-finding turned into blissfully open, perfect corn snow, and we cruised down, down, down until we were slogging and sticking, making the final turns in snow that felt like mush.

Stripped down to our base layers and sun hats, we skated and sweated the last stretch, to find much-needed refreshments and a train back home.

Skiers skating along flat valley bottom

It was incredible. It was challenging. It was above all MEMORABLE.

And the funny part is, we only managed to get those three photos.

The ‘What are we getting into?’ photo.

The ‘Look where we are!’ photo.

The ‘We did it.’ photo.

Everything in between has been preserved in the telling. Re-living it by sharing it with others.

We constantly feel the pressure to preserve all these memories in ways that do the experiences justice. So we can always go back and have the fullness of it available.

Because it wasn’t just a morning on a mountain. It was life, just the way we want to live it.

And so I could try to write a bullet point list of How To Create The Perfect Adventure Journal, but it comes down to one:

Document the experience.

Word nerds like me are drawn to the written format, but a thousand words later, one photo, you know the cliché.

And like we learned on Äbeni Flue, it’s not always easy to document everything yourself.

Whether you’re not great with a camera, the faceshots are endless and the gear isn’t waterproof, or you’re just so fully engaged you don’t think to pause until it’s over, the photos we get ourselves often don’t capture the best of it.

So. We offer you this. A new way to document the experience.

A professional photographer for your group to catch the best moments, so you don’t have to.

Featuring way better angles than selfies and POV, and delivering images that can actually translate the vivid, awe-inspiring experience into photos you’ll clutch to your adrenaline-fueled self forever.

Consider the possibilities:

You really don’t want to miss photographic evidence of being THIS stoked:

Heli-skier in helicopter smiling at camera

Want some more info? Click below.