Features & Images » Feature Story

The Ultimate Christmas Present


The Ultimate Christmas Present

By G.D. Maxwell

"It doesn’t get any better than this." Like some crazed mantra, Brad Russer was repeating himself… for something like the hundredth time in the last three days.

What it doesn’t get any better than is having nearly two metres of snow fall when a spring storm roars through the Cariboo Mountains. Sure, we had some sympathy for the unfortunate souls who’d encamped the week before us at the lodge and who had to amuse themselves with indoor games the last three days of their stay. But there are no friends on powder days. Better them than us.

And it sure doesn’t get any better than a strong ridge of high pressure moving into the area the day after we arrived. Accompanying gentle breezes sucked moisture out of the snow, turning it from wet and heavy to powdery and light. Warm spring weather returned as did bluebird skies, both promising a bit of corn snow later in the week.

Beyond argument, it certainly doesn’t get better than new snow, steep, long runs, constant fresh tracks, no lineups and the prospect of heli-skiing almost 200,000 vertical feet over the course of a perfect week in the middle of April.

Add all that to the fact Brad was living his ski bum dream, compliments of his fiancé winning this trip in a contest, and brother, you could understand why his face was contorted into a Joker’s grin from the moment this adventure started till sometime long after he’d returned home to Colorado.

Still, it was wearing thin.

"It doesn’t get any better than this," he repeated for good measure.

I counted down: 3… 2… 1. "I’m getting paid to be here." I let it hang in the silence that followed.

A knowing look of incredulity erased his frozen grin. "Okay. It gets a little bit better," he agreed.

But it absolutely, positively, beyond argument, doesn’t get any better than that.

That’s not to say if someone close to you – possibly even yourself – figured out how to wrap a week of heli-skiing at one of Canadian Mountain Holidays’ idyllic lodges in bright Christmassy paper and slip it under the tree with your name on the card it wouldn’t qualify as The Ultimate Christmas Present. It would. Oh Santa Baby, it sooooo would.

A Simple Formula

Over the last 35 years, the alchemical magicians at CMH have tweaked and honed all the components of the ultimate glissehead experience into a seamless package. The elemental aspects of the formula are simple. Start with 20,000 square kilometres or so of rugged, majestic, B.C. mountains bearing quaintly Canadian names like Cariboo, Monashee, Bugaboo. Add reliable snow each winter that generally measures in the hundreds of inches. Build nearly a dozen substantial lodges in isolated, drop-dead gorgeous valleys, sites carefully chosen to reconnect harried, urban adventurers with the awe-inspiring power of nature at its grandest. Furnish the lodges simply but comfortably. Don’t forget the bar… the sauna… the hot tub.