Canadian Mountain Holidays
©Brad White/CMH

Heli-skiing CANADIAN MOUNTAIN HOLIDAYS POWDER PERFORMANCE, THROUGHOUT WESTERN CANADA. For avid skiers, heli-skiing is the sport’s Holy Grail, offering the best imaginable terrain and conditions -- minus crowds or lift lines. Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) is the world’s premier heli-ski operator and has 12 wilderness areas with lodges throughout western Canada, each area averaging about 200 times the size of the continent’s largest normal ski resorts while accommodating just one to four dozen skiers. Collectively, these areas are about half the size of Switzerland, but at any given time they have no more than 400 skiers. Imagine having a resort 10 times the size of Vail or Whistler -- for each skier in your group. Every descent can be unbroken powder, and you never have to ski the same run twice in a week. Therein lies the allure, and why many become addicted. But there is something keeping a lot of skiers who would love heli-skiing from trying it: apprehension. Many capable, strong intermediate and advanced skiers are intimidated by the idea. For this reason, CMH offers the Powder Introduction program, special weeks (six to eight days) for would-be heli-skiers. It is for strong intermediate skiers and above, those who can already make aggressive parallel turns. Camps are all led by Roko Koell, a 20-year CMH veteran guide and fully certified Austrian Alpine Ski Team Coach and instructor. Koell also offers another alternative to the sometimes-intimidating heli-ski trip: Powder Masters weeks, aimed at less aggressive or less fit skiers who want to emphasize quality of skiing over quantity. Heli-skiing can attract A-types bent on racking up the most possible runs each day, and basically, Powder Masters is for those who want to stop and smell the roses. This winter, Powder Intro has 13 sessions and Powder Masters nine, both at four CMH lodges, ranging from $5,250 to $10,770 per person, including all meals, lodging, transfers from Calgary, and use of powder skis, poles, and, of course, avalanche transceivers.
Jackson Hole
Courtesy: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Strong Intermediate Skiing, Snowboarding, or Telemarking STEEP & DEEP SKI CAMPS, JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING. Its nickname is “The Big One,” and Jackson Hole is a giant among mountains, generally considered the continent’s most challenging major ski resort, with double-black-diamond trails even many expert skiers are afraid to try. It was also the fi rst resort to offer lift-served access to the ungroomed backcountry, partnering with adjacent Grand Teton National Park in 1999 to open access gates in its boundary fences. This makes it the perfect setting for what the resort calls Steep & Deep Ski Camps, which are aimed at teaching participants all aspects of handling the steepest terrain and deepest untouched powder, the kind you see in ski movies. The Steep & Deep Ski Camp was Jackson’s original product, and most programs include a session of skiing with the resort’s ambassador, Tommy Moe, the fi rst American skier ever to medal twice in a Winter Olympics, winning both gold and silver. The instructors are the best of Jackson’s highly regarded ski school. None of the camps are for beginners, and most cater only to very strong intermediates and above. For Steep & Deep skiing, level 8 to 9 expert ability is recommended. Like all Jackson Hole camps, it includes four full days on the slopes, and some participants tackle the most famous black and double-black diamonds, along with out-of-bounds skiing through the gates. There are two aprèsski events, a farewell dinner, gear giveaways, and a take-home video. “We’re not out to hurt anyone, but we try to take people down runs that are at the limits of their ability,” says Moe. “We take people who are intermediates and experts down the expert chute here, and it’s usually the hardest thing they have ever skied.” The camp’s success over the yearshas spawned multiple options, including two snowboarding versions: the Steep & Deep Snowboarding Camp and Learn to Ride Powder Camp. Camps are coed, but for ladies who prefer an all-women environment,Jackson Hole offers Women’s Ski and Women’s Snowboard camps, similar but catering to a slightly wider range of abilities, from intermediate to expert. Backcountry camps are open to skiers and snowboarders with a focus on safe out-of-bounds travel for touring and ski mountaineering, including a Level I Avalanche Course. The Steep & Deep camp for telemark skiers is taught by the coach of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) National Demonstration Team, Scott McGee. Jackson even offers an adaptive Steep & Deep camp for skiers with various disabilities. Ski camps are held four times from January to March; other camps are held one to two times each season. All cost $1,100 including lift tickets. The resort has numerous hotel and condominium lodging partners in all price ranges.,