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Extemely Canadian

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Next season I and a friend will be trying a week of Heli Skiing for the first time (see American Heli Skiing thread) and will probably be doing 6 days at Whistler first (it will be my first time in Canada).

The second week will be fantastically expensive (by my standards) so I want good value at Whistler but also 2 or 3 days with a guide off-piste to find good steep and deep.

Someone mentioned "Extremely Canadian" who also do guiding and All Mountain Clinics. Does anyone know them? Can I go a lot cheaper or are they good value? Would their guiding / clinics suit good skiers who have skied mostly off piste for many years and enjoy steep slopes and any sort of snow? I'm not really looking for lessons, but that's fine if it doesn't hold up the skiing

Thanks, everyone, for all the help with choosing heli operators.
post #2 of 19
I did the Extremely Canadian clinic March 21-22. I expect you would like it as their philosophy is to "step it up a bit" and push skiers to the edge of their comfort zones to learn new techniques. As my 2 days happened to be first decent powder days (33 inches new snow over previous 3 days) Whistler had seen in several months the emphasis was on seeking out the stashes the guides knew best. Extremely Canadian groups by ability, so my 20-year-old son was in the faster group and I was in the slower one. My son's group hiked Flute Bowl on the first day. Our slower group skied 30,700 on Blackcomb the second day, with the only groomed runs being runouts back to the lifts.

Unless you're in very good shape, you will want a couple of days off between Extremely Canadian and heliskiing.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks Tony. I shall need a rest between, I'm sure (I'm 56 and find I hit the buffers after about a week of hard skiing). We'll have a day travelling in between, anyway, and intend to explore without a guide some of the time.
I'm also keen to know about their total package (the lodge etc) which is what was suggested we sign up to.
I've already found London/Vancouver flights for £440, including tax. And at convenient times of day too, not 6.30am flights: not bad.
post #4 of 19
I did a 2 day trip with them a couple of years back - very enjoyable, but it is kinda tiring.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
WTFH: tiring? More than normal off-piste skiing?
And what about the Lodge: did you get the impression it was good value for Whistler, or were you only skiing with them?
post #6 of 19
I only skiied with them.
It was tiring for me, but then again, I joined a group which was at the upper end of my ability, and while I didn't slow the group down, it did take a lot of effort on my part!
post #7 of 19

2 Thumbs Up!

4 years ago, my wife and I signed up for Extremely Canadian's 2 day clinic just before we attended NSP's Powderfall and the World Ski & Snowboard Festival at Whistler/Blackcomb. EC's clinic was more of a guide service than a clinic (as opposed to Powderfall where the PSIA demo team was clinic-ing).

We enjoyed the 2 days with EC much more than we did with the demo team. EC's Clinic was about skiing hard, pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone, and skiing terrian that you would never ski by yourself (rocks are your friend - they provide good footing while traversing/sidestepping into chutes : ) or find being a tourist there. While Powderfall (and skiing with the demo team) was about skiing a controlled line, body position, why are you loading up the ski so much : (because I can! : ), and saving one of the demo team's students from sliding head first over a small rock band (I had to personnally tackle/self arrest the guy while all the demo team members didn't know what to do and just watched in disbelief). Anyway, enough PSIA demo team bashing.

After a ski-off separating skiers into same skill groups (I was in one group while my wife was in another - good for our skiing, good for our marriage), we spent the first day on Whistler. My group's (led by Nigel McKissock ) first 2 runs were on The Couloir and The Cirque whereas my wife's group (led by Joe Lammers ) went off to Whistler Bowl. Anyway, lots of hard charging, off-trail, crud and powder skiing, with some tips on how to be a strong skier, not blocking the turn in steep terrian, but falling away from the hill, and skiing big, GS type turns in the crud and powder. My wife's group was working on the same thing, but just in a little bit more mellow terrain. They ended up skiing The Couloir and The Cirque later in the day. (FYI - she was the best skier in the "second" group so she had to do some waiting, but not that much where she got bored.) My group probably skied somewhere around 35,000' and my wife's group around 30,000'.

On day 2 we went to Blackcomb. Our first steep run was skier's left of Pakalolo, traversing in under the rocks on a 47 degree slope (rocks our your friend!). The reward - crotch deep powder for 250 yards right under the Glacier Express lift. Then it was off to skier's left of Couloir Extreme, skiing off the high point on the ridge, a 50+ degree slope. After 2 runs there, it was off to Spanky's Ladder and onto Sapphire, Garnet, Diamond, and Ruby Bowls. No ropes, just signs that say "Cliff" or just poles sticking in the snow (they mean "there's a cliff here stupid!). Incredible lift serviced skiing, much like the Alta Chutes, Tower 3 Chute, Rock Springs Bowl, or Granite Canyon at Jackson. We also skied Blowhole (stayed high skier's right until we got to the glacial ice and then did freefall jump turns back into the throat - short but fun), but most of the day was spent off of Spanky's ladder. My wife's group warmed up in Jersey Cream Bowl and then on the Showcase T Bar. After that they hit Couloir Extreme, Blowhole and then Spanky's Ladder (Sapphire, Garnet, Diamond, and Ruby Bowls). Video was shot and analysis/feedback on the video was performed. Skied around the same vertical feet as the day before.

By 3:30 pm, most were shot so it was off to Merlin's for nacho's, beer, and bragging.:

I can highly recommend EC's clinics to anyone who is interested in getting this type of guiding/instruction. But be in shape and bring the fattest skis you own. Both my wife and I had 35+ days under us for the season (at Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole) when we showed up and we where both tired at the end, to the point where we took the next day off.

The guides Nigel and Joe were great. The best thing we got out it was knowing where to ski for the next week while we were there for Powderfall and WSSF.

Not to beat a dead horse, but after skiing with Nigel and Joe, skiing with the demo team for 3 days was downright boring.

We didn't stay at the lodge. We wanted to be at the hill, so we stayed at the Pan Pacific. I heard the lodge was great. 4 Stars for the Pan Pacific.

post #8 of 19
I skied with Extremely Canadian a couple of years ago and agree with the comments above. I learned a lot and had a chance to ski things I wouldn't have tried by myself. I was in a group of four with an instructor/guide but we had a broken leg and dislocated shoulder after the first day, so it was basically two of us with the guide. The guide said a 50% casualty rate was unusal and the circumstances for the injuries were begngn

As Whistler hadn't had snow in days during my visit, some of the routes off of Spanky's ladder had the goods. For me EC was well worth the money for strong skiers in good shape.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks, sounds good, I'll probably do the clinic.

As for the lodge: it is 2,378 Canadian Dollars per week (including transfers to/from Vancouver, breakfast, dinner etc)
How does this sound? I am just used to European prices and don't know what is normal in Canada. I would normally pay much less than that INCLUDING air travel and a shared guide every day. But I was told this was good value for Whistler (?)
post #10 of 19
So lets see .... 2378 / 7days is $340 CAD a day, lift tickets are $70ish, accom $150ish 2 meals $30 (on the CHEAP side) so $90 a day for semi privite, high end ski teaching/guiding. Ya that is a good deal
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Mntlion: No, that didn't include guide and lift ticket, but I made 2 mistakes: it was per room (I presume for 2 people, though it doesn't say so) and it is this year's prices, so it will be a bit more. For 6 days (as it will be for us) this year it would have been CAD$183 per person per night.
So, almost the same as the 150 + 30 = 180 you gave.

(The Clinic is CAD$379 for 2 days).
post #12 of 19
It's on the high side, but not outlandish. Strong Pound Sterling will help.
post #13 of 19
I was in Whistler a couple of years ago during Presidents weekend. It was dumping big time and when the friend of a friend that I was suppose to ski with didn't call by 8:30, I called Ralph at Extremely Canadian. I told Ralph my situation, that I just wanted a very good guide. He didn't have a private available but he said that I could go with the fast group until noon and if they weren't fast enough I could just bail, no charge, which was very cool.
Turns out the fast group was just one guy with Felix Tanguay leading us to terrain that I would have never found on my own. In addition we were able to cut some of the biggest lift lines I have ever seen. So I signed up for the three day clinic. All the guides wanted to lead our group, because it was basically a day of free skiing for them, so we got Joe Lammers and Chris Winter each for a day. All the guides were very good skiers and really fun to ski with.

Lammers is the lead guide for them in Las Lenas and he knows the terrain very well. I highly recommend you take a pair of AT skis or at least some Trekkers and skins.
post #14 of 19
If it's worth it, it would be for skiing with people beyond your ability that will push you to go harder. I've only been to Whistler a few times, and I was able to find all of that terrain easily with the trail map and reading info in magazines/forums/usenet. I don't think a guide is necessary unless you are hiking into the BC.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by gramboh
If it's worth it, it would be for skiing with people beyond your ability that will push you to go harder. I've only been to Whistler a few times, and I was able to find all of that terrain easily with the trail map and reading info in magazines/forums/usenet. I don't think a guide is necessary unless you are hiking into the BC.
Interesting. In Europe I would be cautious about skiing somewhere I didn't know (in many of our best resorts you could only find a small proportion of the off-piste without a guide and without putting yourself in danger - or even getting lost and ending up in the wrong valley or at the top of a cliff). Even if someone had told you where some good skiing was you might ski around a corner and find you were facing a slope that, on that day might have a high avalanche danger. Although I have a fair degree of snow knowledge I know my limitations and don't risk skiing many of the steeper slopes that a guide with a lifetime of knowledge and knowledge of the under layers of the snowpack, might decide were safe.
I can think of two lifts in the Alps that you are not even allowed up unless without skis or with a guide.
Is all this not true over in Whistler? Or north America in general?
Are you saying that some of these routes are actually on the piste map or just that you can easily work out where they would be?

As for skiing with people better than me, I believe EC put people in groups after seeing them ski - but I have always been in the top group in the past (though theoretically TopSki in Val d'Isere has an extreme level (A+) for groups, that is above what I could (fairly safely) do. After all, at that level you are risking your life .
post #16 of 19
in NA if it is in the ski area boundries, and is open, the ski area patrol and snow safty crew has worked on it and it is very safe.

If it is outside the ski are boundry it is not "worked on" and you are free to go, just at your own risk (hire a guide if you dont have the knowledge)

the EC guys will find you the best snow, and terrain on the hill, You are renting great local knowledge (best snow, best terrain etc) and lift line cutting, and good instruction. You are NOT getting a UIAGM guide, They are more likely to have snacks not saftly gear in the pack
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I'm somewhat clearer now. Though will I be skiing out of bounds with EC, I wonder? In Europe I get out the touring skis and skins when there has not been any new snow for a long time and the more easily accessible slopes are skied out (of course this happens quicker in resorts where there are alot of good skiers, but on one holiday last year in a little-known resort we skid to one side from a lift and climbed for about half an hour with skis on our shoulders, 3 weeks after it had last snowed, and found a whole, wide, north facing valley with only 4 tracks in it. Without a guide we would never have known).

In Europe, as you may know, there are no ski area boundaries (I assume these are marked in some way?). There is just piste and off piste. Off piste is generally not made avalanche-safe unless it threatens a piste. This is another reason a local guide is a good idea if you want to explore the off-piste. If you want to do it on your own get a 1:25.000 map and get advice from locals (and some resorts have a book of well-known off piste routes published by local enthusiasts) - but if you do that I hope you are very knowledgeable about snowcraft.
I am assuming you would already be skiing with safety gear as I do - transceiver, shovel, probe etc.
post #18 of 19
Firstly I have not done an Extremely Canadian camp, though I have been to Whistler a few times.

Generally (as I understand it ), you will be within the resort area (there is a rope which you have to go under to leave the resort area). Once under you are on your own as regards rescue etc. Within the rope it is covered by your lift ticket.

Within the resort area shovel probe etc would not be usual, beyond the rope into the backcountry they should be mandatory (for anyone with any sense).

Forget about what you know about Europe and how it is done there.....although Canada is less litigious than the USA(I believe) they still have to worry about it.

What you may be wanting (really) is a backcountry guide which is this from the Whistler ski school site

There is a lot of very serious terrain accessible within the resort area by the resort lifts, but it is not "backcountry" (as they call it), if that is what you want you have to go beyond the resort boundary (and plan accordingly)
post #19 of 19
As mnt said, in bounds in Canada is controlled and patrolled so it is considered safe as far as snow conditions. There are terrain features that could be dangerous (rocks, cliffs) in bounds, so I guess there is a risk if you are skiing alone in a whiteout on that terrain (which would usually be closed in a whiteout). I'm not sure if EC takes you out of bounds, but due to liability reasons I would be very surprised if they did lift based touring.
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