The 5:17am text from Kingfisher Heliskiing says ‘Mentally prepare yourself for the deepest snow you will ever ski. It is EPIC right now’!
Dave Windsor did the in-depth analysis of one of Canada’s best smaller heliski outfits – easily added to any trip to Silver Star or Big White.
I pack, dress and hit the road for the hour drive in the dark to the Kingfisher Heliskiing base at Gold Panner Resort & Campground, off Highway 6. I see nothing as the snow hits my windscreen, focusing on staying on the right side of the road. I arrive just as a pot of coffee comes off the stove.
It’s real Canada, character filled timber cabins, home cooked breakfast, wood burner crackling, and an abundance of hospitality.
With waivers signed, intros made and avi kit supplied, the first order of business was an extremely comprehensive hour long safety briefing with guides Matt and Joaquin.
I’ve only heliskied twice before, and know from experience that the first run is always the hardest. Excitement, deep snow, the smell of avgas, the heli’s roar, the wilderness, beauty and the silence make for a surreal, somewhat foreboding feeling.
Kingfisher Heliskiing owner Tim Shenkariuk’s txt was serious. Our initial LZ, at 7,000’, had us knee deep as we clipped in. A short trudge through the snow, to the edge of a decent little drop off, begins a powderiffic day. Knee deep soon becomes thigh deep, then hip, and by the time we reach the bottom it’s waist deep. So much snow!
I took on board Joaquin’s tip, “You only need to point your skis at 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock” and it worked a treat. No thrashing about, no big turns, just a gentle ankle flick from 11 to 1 o’clock. “We haven’t skied here for about week, and we’ve had 70cm in the last couple of days” Matt tells me, “that’s the best part about Kingfisher, we can choose the best area depending on the conditions.” What an understatement – everywhere we skied seemed to be the best area to me.
“The highest point is 2,570m and lowest is 1,300m and our longest run’s about 4km” explains Matt, “however it’s exposed to the elements, so it’s pretty rare to hit it.”
Stats are meaningless around here. The only stat on my mind was the depth of the light marshmallow like snow.
The moment of ultimate bliss for me? Bee-lining a 40° pitch and literally floating on a pillow of snow at the speed of a sloth. Gravity propels me down, the snow holds me up, I can’t go faster if I try. I just stood there and took in the view as I gently flexed my knees and made my way down.
No day lodge – no problem, out from a hatch comes hot chicken and rice soup; ham, cheese & salad wraps; and a cookie for being such a good team. I’m told we’ve been skiing Bucket List, Flyin Ryan and Dizzy Chutes. It’s a bit disorienting exactly where we ski as there are no obvious points of reference in this heavily timbered logging country. I would have been happy lapping the same ‘run’ everytime. More fun after lunch had us smashing chest deep in an old growth forest of cedar and hemlock.
Six or seven runs later (I lost count it was so good) we head back to base for après. Ours and two other chopper loads gather in the warmth of Gold Pan Café to regale each other with our stories over a beer or three, an obligatory shotski and nachos. “This is my second time with Kingfisher, and boy it’s amazing” says Kent Code, from Saskatoon Saskatchewan, “it was deep today. I’ve never had snow that deep before. For me today was perfect, the pace was perfect, the guides were awesome, it was just a fabulous day. This place is nice and rustic and you really feel like you’re in the mountains. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
“Some more famous heli operators are great, but it’s a totally different experience” says Bjorn, “it’s lots of guys racing to do the most laps and in a big Huey, like 11 of us compared to four guests Kingfisher take up. This felt like skiing a resort with my friends, except we have a private helicopter and no other people.”
“You had a smile on your face all day Dave” remarked Alan, “you obviously loved it?” Never has a truer observation been made. You never tire of it, and Kingfisher Heliskiing delivered on their promise of the deepest snow I’d ever skied.
Kingfisher Heliskiing regularly pick up from the Silver Star, and take day trips to their secret stashes in the Monashee Mountains – or drive yourself like I did. New for this season is their Kingfisher Heli Village with 2 brand new cabins to stay on site. Check details, rates and book on the website, see details below. The Kingfisher Heli Village at Gold Panner Resort is located on 34 acres in Cherryville, BC Canada right on Highway 6. Located at the gateway of the Monashees, Kootenays, and Selkirks. Only minutes away by helicopter to the sickest tenure out there.
Guests can stay in either 1 of 2 brand new 900 sq ft, 2 bedroom cabins or the 2000 sq ft Kingfisher Chalet. Each of the new cabins has a full kitchen, table top bar, 2 en-suites with full bathrooms and queen beds. The living area has a traditional wood burning stove where you can relax and talk about your day of heliskiing. The Kingfisher Chalet has 3 bedrooms, 2 single occupancy and 1 double occupancy, with 2 bathrooms. There is a full kitchen and large living room with a traditional wood burning stove.
Amenities included at the Kingfisher Heli Village: Massage, stretching area, hot tub, sauna, mobile phone reception and wireless internet. All the chalet necessities are taken care of by our friendly staff.
The Kingfisher Heliskiing Heli Village offers a destination experience for your heliski vacation. A throwback to the good ole days of skiing.
Getting to Kingfisher Heliskiing Air Canada to Kelowna; it’s just over an hour from Silver Star www.aircanada.com
Heliski / Heliboard www.kingfisherheliskiing.com
Resort www.skisilverstar.com BC/Canada info www.hellobc.com www.canada.travel
Packages to Silver Star www.mogulski.com.au www.travelandco.com.au www.travelplan.com.au www.mysnow.com.au www.snowcapped.com.au