Across the valley, Mt. Currie’s fearsome mass is riddled with couloirs, flatirons and partially obscured in milky clouds. Its presence is felt heavily at the basecamp for Coast Range Heli in Pemberton, B.C. -- we stare at it in awe from the grounds while conducting beacon drills and getting the lowdown on helicopter safety. Speaking of awe, the helicopter is truly a machine of wonder. As in, I wonder if I’m going to keep my composure thousands of feet off the deck. And, I wonder how good the snow’s gonna be… The blades start spinning and we levitate 7-8,000 feet off the valley floor. Adrenaline replaces fear. The helicopter crests Currie and the bottom drops out: a vast, white world of stoke opens up far as the eye can see. Before us lies just a sliver of CRH’s 200,000-acre tenure. We sweep left, then right, and a scoured shoulder appears below. The pilot delicately feathers us down on the ridge; our guide Jeff Van Driel pops open our door and we pile out into a rotor-powered blizzard. Everyone hunkers down and protects their faces behind jacket sleeves; we give the pilot a “Thumbs Up” and he lifts off, leaving us alone in the alpine.
In addition to our guide Jeff, Columbia Outerwear’s Andy Nordhoff, writer Ali Carr Troxell, and Billy Brown of Trek Tech comprise our gang of four snowboarders. Two more groups, friends new and old, are whirling about in the same zone. We’ve been dropped into snowboard Heaven, and it took only a turn or to realize the conditions are both blower and bottomless.
A feeding frenzy began. I’ve ridden a fair amount of pow over the years, and I can’t seem to recall a better day of snowboarding. Every turn propelled crystalline snow into tubular clouds, contrails momentarily hovering in suspension. We hurtled ourselves through pillow fields -- true marshmallow stacks -- defying ability and gravity. It was a day for the memory bank, one of those experiences I’ll replay in my mind over and over (and over) again.
Many thanks to Scott Trepanier, Andy Nordhoff and the other fine folks at Columbia Outerwear for assembling an all-time trip and crew. Coast Range Heli runs a tight operation and our guide Jeff Van Driel killed it. Cheers-
[Words and Photos by Mike Horn. Snowy beard photo by Mark Going.]