On the evening of October 6, 2011 my wife and I attended a very fun reception hosted by Barb Follett, a transplanted Calgarian and the Washington D. C. representative of Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH). The event was held downtown at the classy facilities of the U. S. Navy Heritage Center beside the Navy Memorial/Archives Metro station. The free, invitation-only affair was set up to promote the amazing heli-skiing vacation opportunities at CMH’s eleven powder-laden lodges in western Canada.
There was a good crowd, maybe 200-300 ski-savvy folks, all with snow on their minds even though it was early Fall. The mix was pretty neat including local ski shop employees and ski instructors, travel writers, heli-ski neophytes, veterans of millions of vertical feet with CMH, and just a lot of avid skiers/snowboarders casually schmoozing about all things skiing, but especially about the other-worldly ski and snowboard experiences offered by CMH. The reception featured hors d’oeuvres such as smoked salmon, Canadian beer and wines, and a delicious chocolatey British Columbian specialty known as Nanaimo bars.
Afterwards it was time for an audio and visual dessert in the adjacent Arleigh Burke theatre with a viewing of CMH Heli-Skiing’s newest ski flick Powder 101 - An Intro to Heli-Skiing, and the latest CMH Heli-film with exclusive footage taken while shooting Warren Miller Entertainment’s 62nd film Like There’s No Tomorrow. Andy Mahre and Tyler Ceccanti were the featured athletes in the latter; we are talking massive cascading pillow drops, powder up to your eyeballs, 60 MPH Monashee tree runs, and awesome mountain scenery.
After the films were over Dani Loewenstein, a well-spoken CMH guide, gave a great 20-minute narrated slide show on what heli-ski weeks are really like for the general public, including a Q&A session. Though he’s probably a powder demigod, Dani’s ski life started in vertically challenged Ontario, Canada. He related well to the mid-Atlantic audience. In fact, I thought Dani’s presentation was the most powerful part of the evening. He stoked and stroked the crowd while putting a reassuring human face on the breathtaking world of CMH heli-skiing. In a way, his interaction with the audience was like a pep rally with rabid sports fans - all rooting for Team Snow.
When one of the CMH people asked how many had heli-skied it seemed like a third of the room raised their hands. Frankly, I was surprised. I’m a fairly well traveled resort skier, yet always thought of heli-skiing as an exotic thing for film stars, CEOs, and supermen. Not so. There are regular people walking among us that have been there and done this holy grail of the ski world.
At this point they started handing out door prizes. A representative from Ski Center in Washington, D.C. gave away some goggles and other prizes. Sarah Pearson, a marketing manager from CMH-Banff, took over when it was time for the evening’s climactic moment. She drew ten names from the guest list. A friend of mine was one of the names, but sorry, you had to be there to win and he left early. The names of the ten winners were put in a hat and they were all invited down to the stage. One by one Sarah randomly chose a name from the hat. If your name was picked you selected a lesser prize off a table: CMH t-shirts, ballcaps, etc. The last name left in the hat got a free ski trip including four days of heli-skiing with CMH. It was a guy about 40-something years old who had never been heli-skiing before. He started hugging everyone in sight and need I say, for this lucky gent it was an evening of heli-ski stokage he’ll never forget!
For specific info on CMH ski trips or to learn about their next local promotional event, e-mail CMH rep Barb Follett at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Husband, father and retired civilian employee of the Department of Navy, Jim Kenney is a D.C. area native and has been skiing recreationally since 1967. Jim's ski reporting garnered the 2009 West Virginia Division of Tourism's Stars of the Industry Award for Best Web/Internet/E-Magazine Article.
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