WHITE OUT: The helicopter drops guests off on isolated mountaintops to ski deep, untouched powder.
Topher Donahue

Loewenstein, who is entering his seventh year as a heli-ski guide, has certainly seen hundreds of skiers go from flailing to functioning. “I love giving people the opportunity to do things that they never thought they could ever do. I love the mountains, I love skiing, but I really love people. They just have to trust in themselves and most of all trust in us.”

Ski for Yourself

CMH Heli-Skiing boasts 11 lodges and ski areas in the mountains of British Columbia that cater to different desired heli-skiing or heli-boarding experiences. Throughout their heli-ski season of December 1 to May 3, the company offers seven seven-day signature trips plus other specialty trips at the different lodges. Prices for 2014 range
from about $4,010 to $13,905, depending on date, lodge, and program; does not include Private Weeks pricing. cmhski.com

When I wasn’t flying down the mountain, or at least attempting to, I was just as busy enjoying the Bugaboo Lodge, complete with climbing wall, massage therapists, rooftop whirlpool, sauna, shop, and bar, among other comforts. The great thing about the trip was that although most people stayed on the slopes until dusk, anyone could return to the lodge at lunch or at a break if weariness set in prematurely. (However, eating lunch that was just flown in fresh by a chopper to the mountaintop is something everyone should experience at least once.) You could customize your trip depending on how much skiing you could handle. Of course, for the competitive folks, the week turned into a friendly contest to see who could rack up the most vertical distance skied. But with such an incredible amount of untouched snow just a helicopter ride away, accumulating distance wasn’t hard to do. Rarely did I see the same mountain peak or face twice during the week. A new day meant new powder.

As I talked to the other skiers during the week, I wanted to know, “Why heli-skiing? Why make this trek to CMH annually when a popular ski resort might be closer and more easily accessible?” The answers were generally the same: There is nothing quite like skiing fresh, silk-soft powder day in and day out. Sure, resorts may have day excursions to the other side of the mountain to chart new territory, but it’s not the same as waking up every morning in a secluded winter wonderland only to remember, again, that you practically have the entire place to yourself. Heli-skiing might not have the same amenities, but the adrenaline rush of weaving and bobbing through trees and over rocks with only the sounds of snow crackling and guides yodeling around you is amenity enough. Heli-skiing is its own reward. And when the time came to board that final helicopter and leave at the end of the week, I didn’t want to. A far cry from the timid soul who reluctantly conquered that first run.

When I say I felt the smallest I’ve ever felt standing on top of that mountain, I mean small in the best sort of way. The kind of small that causes you to stop, take a look around, and simply relish where you are in that moment compared to the magnitude of what’s around you. The kind of small that — once you’ve had the good fortune to experience it — makes you want to feel it again.