Heli Skiing at 50

How an Austrian immigrant took the idea of using helicopters for skiing and made it a global industry. From first descents in the Bugaboos to heli-assisted touring, a timeline of the most exciting way to fly and ski.

Hans Gmoser was not the first to use a helicopter to shuttle skiers to untracked powder, but the founder of Canadian Mountain Holidays (better known to skiers as CMH Heli Skiing) was the first to do it right. In 1965, out of an old logging camp, Gmoser flew the first group of powder-hungry skiers up the untracked slopes of the Bugaboo Mountains, run after run, and then stuffed them full of good food. Heli skiing, and heli belly, was born.

The granddaddy of the industry, CMH turns 50 in 2015 and, while Gmoser is not around to celebrate what he started, his legacy lives on. CMH is the world’s largest heli skiing company, operating 11 lodges across B.C. including an improved Bugaboo. And the heli ski industry thrives throughout the world as the thirst for pristine runs remains unquenchable.

To celebrate the 50th b-day of one most exciting and rewarding ways to lay tracks in snow, here are the greatest moments in heli skiing’s evolution.