It should be known that CMH skiers are sociable folks. But as Topher Donahue discovers, there’s much to be said about sharing the experience with just a few close, personal friends.

To ski as a CMH Nomad, I am learning with no small delight, is to travel back in time. If I can just ignore the presence of modern safety systems, internet weather reports, fat skis, and, of course, deluxe accommodation, then it’s easy to imagine myself having this same adventure a half-century ago, when Heli-Skiing was invented. We are striking out with an intimate band of skiers, our own chopper and pilot, a pair of guides and a simple mission: wander freely, and widely, then ski whatever lines look the most tempting.

The Nomads private skiing program was born – rediscovered, if you will – about 20 years ago when guides Dave Cochrane and George Field, while spring skiing with an adventurous group in McBride after the other CMH lodges had closed, decided on a whim to detour southward. They flitted from one CMH lodge to another, all while discovering—and then ripping—choice lines amid the vast 375 linear kilometers of ski paradise between McBride and the Bugaboos.

Modern privateers have the choice which terrain to ski daily. CMH Nomads trips cover Revelstoke, Kootenay, Galena, and Bugaboos tenures. Each morning, guides discuss their tentative itinerary with the other CMH areas, compare notes on weather and snow conditions, and then, within the limitations of safety, allow the guests to choose what kind of skiing they’d like today.


The magic of Nomads Heli-Skiing is that it provides, by definition, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. No two trips are ever the same, nor is there pressure to keep up with anyone or be anywhere other than to be back in time for happy hour. For us that means skiing seemingly endless tree runs like Glade Runner in CMH Kootenay, then popping over to charge massive alpine shots near the spectacular but seldom-seen spires of the Pinnacles in the Southern Monashees.

Even the sightseeing seems better when flying is more like a journey than a commute. It’s not unusual for Heli-Skiers to see a pair of moose, as we do one afternoon, but spotting the rare northern flying squirrel gliding from a treetop as we carve past a giant haystack-shaped mountain at the remote southern border of CMH Revelstoke—that feels like a gift for us, and us alone.

Epic snowfalls only sweeten the deal. One morning we hear the engineer’s voice crackle over the radio, “I still haven’t found the helicopter!” My journal for that day reads: “I’ve just found an even higher level of respect for British Columbian snow. Decompressing in Halcyon Hot Springs in a 4 cm per hour snowfall, each flake is big enough that, as it hits the water, it holds its form before melting into the liquid. And it wasn’t even supposed to snow today.”

Perhaps there’s something to the spring’s storied lithium content, because on the last day I swear that’s where I spot three snowflakes that are exactly the same. Our final dinner is, without a doubt, the most divine meal I’ve ever eaten in my life. The prepared menu —an appetizer of honey and chipotle-glazed ribs with watercress salad, followed by a pastry-wrapped veal tenderloin in a red wine and cherry reduction, then capped off with a dessert of almond coconut pavlova featuring pineapple custard and raspberry coulis—is the perfect coda to a long day of steep tree skiing through Galena’s legendary forests.

The only way to describe this is a state of transcendent bliss. Author and passionate skier Ernest Hemingway may have written A Moveable Feast, but as far as I can tell, only CMH Nomads has perfected it.


Imagine this. Wake up, grab a coffee, and choose, with only your friends and your guide, where and what you want to ski today.

Created to provide maximum variety and flexibility, CMH Nomads is the ultimate Heli-Skiing experience. From tree skiing to high alpine bowls to majestic glaciers, when you have four exclusive CMH areas to choose from, your possibilities are wide open, each and every day.


Share This