Saturday, January 31, 2015

NEH Staff Ski Day 2015

The season at Northern Escape Heli-Skiing kicked off with a staff ski day in their Cat-Skiing back-up tenure. One of the perks of working for a heli-ski lodge that has Cat-Skiing back-up, is the opportunity for staff to get out to celebrate their passion for skiing and snowboarding in the mountains. 

Northern Escape flew their staff out to, "Catland," for a day of fun and shredding powder during staff training week. No better way to test out the operation than have the people involved get a taste of the goods. A solid team is in place to make world class skiing and snowboarding happen in the Skeena Mountains, near Terrace, BC, and make the most of what mother nature serves up for the winter of 2015.

Guiding staff have a quick chat about logistics.

Guide Yvan Sabourin.

Hugo Skishop is stoked for the day.
Amy Ross snaps a pic of the fun.

Guide Owen Day checks altitude in the heli as he arrives in Catland, greeted by guide Mikey Olsthoorn.

Massage practitioner, Heather Park, is stoked to be out ripping it up in the mountains.

Pilot Darren Pedersen flew the crew in and out in the Skyline Koala Helicopter and aired it out on the snow in between.
Cat Operations manager, Chad Hamilton, grabs some airtime.

Ski shop expert, Jono Eastwell, rides the pow.

Breakfast chef, Kassandra Davis, gets some.
Chad Hamilton takes his turn driving the cat and loading skis.

Guide Oyvind Aanes, from Norway.

New to the guiding staff this year is Dave Healey.
Being out in the mountains skiing with friends is as good as it gets.

Four amigos salute the mountain after a great day.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

NEH 2015 Heli-Skiing Guides Training Week Photos

Working as a heli-ski photographer requires a solid understanding of the risks and dangers involved with working in the mountain environment in the winter. Knowing how to avoid potential risks and what to do in case of an emergency comes through planning and practice. Team work and communication is key to the safety of all concerned while out working in the mountains.

The guiding staff and helicopter pilots at Northern Escape Heli-Skiing are second to none. I had the opportunity to take part in the 2015 heliskiing guides training week with them, which was a great team building and learning experience for everyone involved. It instills confidence knowing how much planning and preparation each member of the team has gone through to reach this point.

Northern Escape Heli-Skiing Guide Staff 2015
Left to Right: front row: Yvan Sabourin, Clair Israelson, Mikey Olsthoorn,
back row: Robert Thor Haraldsson, Dave Healey, Owen Day, Gerry Israelson, John Forrest, Peter Wainwright, Oyvind Aanes
One of NEH's longest serving guides, Yvan Sabourin, shovels off one of the fuel caches. Overloading of snow could prove to be a hazard to pilots when re-fueling. Shoveling it off eliminates the hazard.

I see lots of potential ski lines up in those mountains...
The tail section of Summit Helicopters Bell 407.

Where the magic happens. The helicopter turbine rotor.
To get invaluable information on the stability in the snowpack through digging pits and assessing each layer is critical to evaluating terrain choices in any given situation moving forward. It is part-hardwork, part-science, part-artform that requires great attention to detail. Clair Israelson, (foreground), is a veteran in the field of avalanche awareness and safety. 
The sun strives to break through the moody clouds.
My planks... *Name that ski*, in the comment section below. First person to get it will receive a custom 8x10 print.

Skiing Operations Manager, Clair Israelson, radios in a mock avalanche scenario and calls in the other group for back-up. 
Heli-Skiing in British Columbia, Canada, is as good as it gets.

An effective heliski program relies heavily on excellent communication between guide and pilot.
Northern Escape Heliski guides are pumped for the winter of 2015. Here we go!

Heli-Skiing photography 2015

The 2015 Heli-Skiing season is upon us and I am now working with Northern Escape Heli-Skiing as the resident photographer. The goal is to ski with and photograph the Elite package guests at least one day of their heli-ski tour. There are a lot of logistics and many variables in play for this program to work. With the i's dotted and the t's crossed, and the season now underway, it is rewarding to see that the photo program has been well received by guests and guides alike.

Aaron Whitfield hard at work at Northern Escape Heli-Skiing in the beautiful Skeena mountains surrounding Terrace, BC. Chad Hamilton photo.

Ski photography is something I have done in the past at Island Lake Cat-Skiing and Powder Cowboy Cat-Skiing, and I loved every minute of it. To get the chance to work as a heliski photographer is a chance of a lifetime. It feels like I am back where I belong in the mountains with my camera and the opportunity to capture the essence of the heli-ski experience for guests from around the world. As the season progresses, I will post some updates and highlights of the action as it happens.