Friends in High Places

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Friends in High Places

While CMH is known for its world-class heli-skiing, it’s the guests that make this operation so extraordinary

When I found out I was going heli-skiing at CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures (CMH), I couldn’t stop sweating. The thought of being dropped in the middle of Canada’s Northern Selkirks by helicopter to ski spiked my heart rate as if I just stuck my finger into an electrical socket. High-alpine daydreams overwhelmed my free time—I wondered what the snow would be like, how loud the helicopter would be, the kind of terrain I’d get into—but with all of the positive thoughts came a bit of anxiety, too. As my late spring solo trip neared, I couldn’t stop worrying about whether I was going to fit in with the notorious CMH clientele–loaded and partial to the luxurious. I’m a 26-year-old who packs her lunch for work every day, shops at second-hand thrift stores and dog-sits as a side hustle—about as opposite as you can get when you think of someone going on a vacation worth more than my 2018 Hyundai Tucson. But as soon as I stepped inside the Bobbie Burns Lodge—just 15 minutes by helicopter from Parson, British Columbia—the angst quickly subsided.

An uproarious welcome from the lodge staff greeted me at the front door of the ‘Burns. Country-wide smiles from a few Canucks will surely shake the jitters off any apprehensive CMH first-timer. As more guests made their way into the lodge to have lunch before going out for our first day of heli-skiing—the Bobbie Burns’ advantageous location made arriving and skiing in the same day possible—we introduced ourselves to one another. After mentioning my position at FREESKIER, a Jolly-Green-Giant of a man with a voice to match bull-rushed his way to my side of the room.

CMH Bobbie Burns Lodge, BC

“Hey, I’m helping your boss buy a house!”

This colossal personality introduced himself as Erik Boye, a realtor based out of Boulder, Colorado. A father of two Winter Park-based ski racers and a retired gate basher himself, this was Boye’s first CMH trip and the child-like excitement exuding from every fiber of his being was contagious. Boye’s goofy-dad demeanor made it clear he wasn’t here to take anything too seriously, but his racing background made him a helluva partner for carving our signatures on every lap.

Stepping out of the helicopter for our very first run, CMH’s Director of Marketing, Julia LoVecchio, who was tagging along for the first couple of days, pointed to the only other woman in our group. “That’s Julia Mancuso’s mom,” LoVecchio whispered to me. Mouth, meet floor. So as not to come off as a fan-girl, I kept the secret hush-hush until Andrea Mancuso Webber casually mentioned her Olympic gold-medalist daughter in conversation. At which point I could no longer contain myself and gushed to Webber about how I idolized Julia growing up as a ski racer. By the third day, Webber and I were taking selfies in the heli together and texting them to my childhood hero. 

Nearing the end of the week, as guests reached their guaranteed 100,000 vertical feet and felt the physical effects of that much skiing, groups dwindled. Our guides combined the remaining powder-hungry souls, me included, into one heli for more leg-burning laps. On the penultimate day of the trip, I had the opportunity to ski alongside Hawaiian snowboarder and longtime CMH guest, Marina Ho. Ho has been coming to CMH for over ten years and on our last lap of the day, she reached one million vertical feet—an accomplishment that warranted hoots, hollers and a whole lot of champagne. Following the libatious celebration, I had the chance to sit down with Marina and learn she’s a surfing fiend, a devoted grandmother and, lucky for me, my gracious host, should I ever find myself on the island of Oahu.

PHOTO: courtesy of CMH/The Public Works

If you had asked me, prior to the trip, how many friends I thought I was going to make at CMH, the answer would have been a confident zero. What could I, a self-proclaimed salaried ski bum, possibly have in common with the world’s top one-percenters? I was quick to find out that it’s not about who you are or how much money you make when you come to CMH. Skiing is a universal language. One that bypasses all social classes and connects the most unlikely of people, like a German uncle and nephew who didn’t speak a lick of English but befriended and conversed with me by sharing pictures of them skiing back home and a Frenchman named Pierre who purchased a three-year subscription to this magazine, despite the international shipping costs, just to show his kids my work and hopefully inspire them to link skiing with their careers one day. What I’ve come to learn is that CMH is so much more than a heli-skiing lodge, it’s a home where complete strangers become life-long friends over thousands of feet of untouched Canadian powder.