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First time Heli-Ski

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for heli or cat skiing options that are good bets for first timers. My wife is a little apprehensive given her lack of powder skiing experience. Any recommendations?
post #2 of 7
My wife and I have been to four different CAT operations; Peak Mountain Adventures in Cataldo, Idaho, Mount Bailey in Oregon, CAT Powder in Revelstoke BC and Monashee Powder Adventures out of Nelson/Vernon BC. All of the operations have great people working for them. The first three allow one day trips, Monashee is a multiple day operation since you have to take a snowmobile 28 kilometers to the lodge. I believe that monashee has the best terrain and is the best overall experience. Like any powder skiing, if you hit it when the snow and fresh and deep, it will be memorable. If you hit it after sun and no new snow for a couple of days, you will still have a good time but the snow will not be what you really went for unless they put you on those coveted north facing glades and bowls. The other variable is the composition of the group. If you are in a group with young cliff jumping vertical powder hounds and 1st time powder skiers, the tension will not make for a truly enjoyable day. We have been lucky for the most part, but have had one marginal experience due to different skill levels and expectations for the day. The way to solve this problem is to get a group of 10 friends together and you own the cat for the day, where it goes and where you ski. For your wife to really enjoy it, buy her fat skiis and have her take some lessons before you go. Unless you are fearless and want to teach her powder strategies and techniques yourself. Take her progressively into deeper and steeper terrain at your locale area. When my wife and I went on our first trip six years ago, I purchased her a pair of volant chubbs. She has really enjoyed them both in powder and crud. We spent a couple of months searching out every inch of powder we could. It still didn't prepare her adequately for that first day when the snow was waist deep. She was a real trooper that first day. She stuck with it for the second day and it clicked for her. At the end of the second day, she said, "I think we should book this for next year. It got even better on the third day and we have been going at least once per year ever since. We are thinking of going back up to Monashee again this year. Next year it is the big plunge up to Blue River and a week of Heli skiing with Mike Weigele. Feel free to send me a PM if you have additional questions.
post #3 of 7
Sound like you may want to try Grand Targhee first. Lots of snow on mostly low angle slopes. Then after she gets comfortable
with that, hit the snowcat. If you book a three day trip before
christmas they include a free day of cat skiing!
post #4 of 7
>>My wife is a little apprehensive given her lack of powder skiing experience. Any recommendations?<<

Shredhead's advice is perfect.
Until your wife is an experienced powder skier and no longer lacking confidence in serious powder, you will be taking a strong risk of having a disasterous time and wasting a lot of money. You would be MUCH better advised to spend the money and effort to go to a ski area where you could reasonably expect to experience some real powder and have the option of skiing groomed slopes for a few runs if the powder gets a little overwhelming. There are many areas of Utah and Colorado that others who are more experienced in those states than I am could recommend. In northern California, we tend to have much heavier powder that is exhausting and requires more strength and high altitude stamina than the lighter powder does.
Best Regards,

[ October 31, 2002, 10:05 AM: Message edited by: Powderdog ]
post #5 of 7
I would totally echo SHREDHEAD's advice.

Two years ago, I gave my wife a surprise birthday present of cat-skiing at Targhee. She's a good powder skier already, but the experience was just great. They had a variety of terrain, a good share of which would probably be very manageable for your wife.

We filled a cat, so it we didn't have to deal with compatibility of the skiers. That is a possible issue no matter where you go, so make sure you give the operator an accurate and honest assessment of your wife's abilities. If she's a reasonably strong skier and you put her on fat skis, I'll bet she'd pick it up very quickly.

post #6 of 7
Snowcat is right, be prepared. Make sure you and your wife are in excellent shape and are at a high enough ski level with some powder experience. If not your trip may be a disaster.

I don't want to dissuade you because if you are properly prepared, it will be the trip of a lifetime.

As far as where to go there are lots of great choices. One place that is extremely well organized and professional throughout, if cost is not a concern, is Mike Wiegle's place near Blue River, BC. If cost is a factor consider a snowcat vacation such as Monashee.

Good luck and have a great trip.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. I believe we are following many of your suggestions, but I do want to find a company that is 'first timer' friendly and splits up the skiers by ability. I don't want my wife to feel guilty or other guests to get annoyed if she holds up the group. She's a pretty strong advanced intermediate skier who can handle many black diamond runs as long as they are groomed, she just hasn't had a lot of powder experience. She's in great shape so that shouldn't be an issue for her.

This trip is intended to be the capstone to an 8 week ski vacation beginning in late January (my company offers an 8 week sabbatical every 7 years). We plan to work up to the heli or cat skiing over time. The winter ski plans look like this.

Christmas - New Year's: about 10 days at Mammoth

Late January: start sabbatical with about a week at Mammoth. Also will return to Mammoth in between the other trips.

Early February: week long clinic with Extremely Canadian at Whistler

Early March: NASTC OB clinic at Grand Targhee & Jackson

Late March: Week of Heli or Cat skiing.

End of March: return to work (unless I win the lottery [img]smile.gif[/img] )
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