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What it’s like to heli-ski

I just went heli-skiing in Canada at MICA for a few days and it was the best ski in my life.

The lodge at MICA is a 5 hour drive from Kelowna Airport in Canada and a short helicopter ride. It’s off the grid and can only be reached by helicopter during winter. All the groceries and drinks are delivered by helicopter. The lodge is pretty much off-line with only slow and expensive satellite Internet I mostly did not use and that felt really good.

MICA takes security very seriously. When we arrived we got a training on how to use our get in case of emergency. We carry radios, a beacon designed for finding someone in an avalanche, a shovel and a probe. Most of the gear is stored in a backpack that contains an airbag that inflates around your head to help you float at the top of an avalanche. It also helps creates an air pocket around you should you get buried. We simulated having to find someone buried with the beacons. Once the beacon found the signal, we probed to get more precise and found the body. We finally learned how to shovel in the most efficient way.

The skis are very wide “fat skis” that makes skiing in deep powder very easy. They just float in a very similar way as a snow board but not as much. Skiing in deep powder with those skis is much less complicated than it seems. What you really have to do is to go straight down and limit the turns. The powder is so deep there that you won’t get much speed anyway. The snow slows you down a ton.

Skiing happens in “high alpine” (the top of the mountains) and then in the trees. A good tip for skiing in the trees is to not look at the trees but the holes between the trees. Easier to say than done as your brain always wants to focus on the trees but if you manage to do it, it gets really easy.

We have a guide in front and in some cases also a guide in the back. They really know the terrain very well and I felt very safe. Of course sometimes you hit a small cliff and just jump it. The powder amortizes a lot including falling in a bad way (or upside down!) and there are very few accidents. Broken legs don’t happen much in powder as it’s so soft.

I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity. MICA is sold out for years in advance but sometimes they have some cancelations.

Written by

Entrepreneur, pilot, kite-surfer and paraglider. Subscribe to my new newsletter http://loiclemeur.substack.com

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