The snowy roads twist and wind as we travel through the southeastern corner of British Columbia in our Outside Van, a mini motor home equipped with all the amenities to chase powder for months. Our next stop is Nakusp, a small mining and logging community (pop. 1,569) located on the shores of the Columbia River. According to the local tourist center, “the primary attraction is the hot springs,” however our objective is to experience CMH’s (Canadian Mountain Holiday’s) newly reconstructed heli-ski base called the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge.
Nakusp Local Vitals
• CMH is the largest hell-ski operator in the world
• Average annual snow fall = 25 feet (above 3k elevation)
• Average daily vert = 20,000 feet
• Cost of five-day heli package = $5,100 (includes food and lodging)
• Every person who stays at the CMH K2 Rotor Lodge receives a free pair of K2 skis
For over 45 years, CMH has been delivering heli-skiing to the masses. In many ways this company has standardized the industry. With 11 different tenures—including notable establishments such as the Bugaboo, Cariboo, and Monashee lodges—CMH is the largest heli-ski company in the world. The primary ingredient for success is based on the ability to deliver consistently good skiing day after day. The majority of the ski terrain is located below treeline which enables flying and skiing on bad weather days.
“It’s rare that we get shut down for more than 24 hours,” says to Peter Macpherson, K2 Rotor Lodge operations manager. This is extremely important in a region that typically receives more than 25 feet of annual snow fall.
Sunny days are rare along the Powder Highway, but we were blessed with two of them during our week stay in Nakusp, including an amazing sunset from the banks of the Columbia River. With the benefits of good stability and our veteran guide Ken France, we accessed rarely skied terrain and racked up a daily average of 20,000 vertical feet. It was a pleasure to explore with an experienced group of guides that are intimately familiar with these mountains.
After heli-skiing and guiding in Alaska for the past 17 years, I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed my first Canadian mountain holiday.
About the Road Trip
There is nothing like a good road trip to set the mind free. “Hitting the open road in search of adventure is a part of the American Dream,” said Pat Bauman, an original member of the K2 Performers. In the early 1970s, Bauman teamed up with local Sun Valley skiers—John Clendenin, Charley McWilliams, Jim Stelling—to tour the country in a flashy, red-white-and-blue motor home with the intent of showing people just how much fun it can be to strap a pair of skis to your feet. Inspired by this original band of skiers, a new generation of Eddie Bauer guides and athletes start their own road trip and head north into Canada to search for perfect conditions along the infamous Powder Highway.