Transported to Skiing Nirvana – Part 1

Posted on December 27, 2012

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As this year winds down and winter settles upon us, I find myself reflecting on a thrilling experience that happened to Hubby and me just before Christmas. Although both of us are non-skiers (due to past injuries), we boldly ventured into the high back-country wilderness by vehicle to complete some technical computer work at a newly opened ski lodge. In fact, our destination wasn’t just any lodge, it was the newly constructed Mica Heliskiing Lodge, a skier’s and boarder’s Nirvana – where deep powder snow is endless.

Our destination

This world-class resort could easily be on a “bucket list” for serious skiing enthusiasts. While I felt humbled and blessed to have almost 48 hours to witness the finishing touches on the development before its official launch, it was a world unfamiliar to me. I tried to keep a photo record of our trip, since it might be my only trip up to the skiing mecca. The morning we set out on the road, just past 6:30 am, there was a snow squall coming in from the south, moving northward, the direction we were travelling to. It was difficult to admire the snowy scenes we passed with a deadline ahead of us.

Road to Mica Dam

Three hours of driving got us to the nearest city, Revelstoke, and from there we hit the long, precarious drive towards the Mica Dam and Mica Village, about 160 kilometres further north. Although the snow had stopped at that point, the road was compact ice and snow, moderately plowed and not sanded well. The closer we got to the designated helicopter “staging” area, about 10 kilometres past the dam, the heavier the snow pack became on the tree limbs and higher the snow banks were, like walls, along the road.

The view from the top

Snow encrusted trees

We were pretty anxious about finally arriving at the lakeside departure point (Kinbasket Lake), only to realize that there’d be an excellent chance of getting the car buried with overnight snow in the forecast.  A couple of other vehicles, actually other pilots, joined us to wait for the incoming helicopter. The first part of the adventure, just getting to the staging area in one piece, was done, so we readied ourselves for the ‘copter ride up to the lodge. It was only the second time I’d been in a helicopter, so I was admittedly a wee bit apprehensive, though I didn’t want to look like a newbie.

We arrive in the clouds at the Mica Heliskiing lodge

The red A-star helicopter made a smooth arrival, and we were directed how to board the craft. (I should say right here that helicopters are not designed for short people to board them with any degree of grace or dignity. I managed to boost myself from the ground onto the first stringer step, but then had to scoot across on my knees over to the seating, doggie-style. No photos of it thankfully.) An on-board safety talk assured me that these pilots were well-seasoned professionals. It was just the lingering thought of how little glass or plastic that was encompassing our bodies while airborne that I tried to dismiss as we lifted off.

In seconds we were on our way, zooming over the massive lake and inlets beneath us. With snowy mountain peaks and forests as far as you could see, it seemed impossible that any lodge could be built in such a remote area. But then, a brief 15 minutes into the flight, we were circling a large, very contemporary lodge. I was in awe and total disbelief how such a project could have been completed. Our pilot neatly brought us in for a landing, our belongings and equipment were off-loaded, and away the A-star departed, like a huge red dragonfly, off on another run down the mountain. Although Hubby had been to the lodge previously while it was still under construction, this was my introduction to the lodge, and so the adventure continued …

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