My friend Josh Dueck and I keep in touch on a fairly (un)regular basis… Our lives – which seem to run parallel in more than a few ways- the pursuit powder snow and wind in our faces, meaningful friendships, a connection with certain divine energies, and a life full of adventure- have intersected in many mysterious ways over the past few years. We have hung out, run adventure camps, sat through meetings, presented to youth, meditated, camped, directed a non profit organization and even bungee jumped together.. but until a few weeks ago, had only talked about skiing.
Making turns with Josh was long overdue, and when he e-mailed me to join him heli skiing at Kingfisher Heliskiing in the Monashees- I couldn’t have responded yes quickly enough. It took some schedule shuffling- and one long day of driving, but before I knew it I was taking off from Keefer Lake in a helicopter and flying into the sunrise with Josh, photographer and friend Chad Spector, guides Tim and Darryl and our pilot Brad.
It would be Josh’s first time heli skiing… another long over due experience for this professional skier- and everyone else’s first time heli skiing with someone who rides a sit ski. We had an amazing few days skiing powder, exploring new terrain (even making a few first descents in the brand new heli ski tenure), understanding the mechanics of a sit ski in BIG mountain terrain and getting to know each other on a level that seems to reveal itself best with time spent in the mountains under blue skies and surrounded by powder snow.
We were shooting photos for an article that Chad is working on for National Geographic (he is a blogger for the Nat Geo site). Getting shots, managing terrain, tree wells, sluff, loading and unloading the helicopter with Josh all presented the team with some unfamiliar puzzles, but like in any experience that takes place in the mountains-communication and trust were key pieces and once we got our systems dialed in, it was absolutely incredible what was accomplished.
Watching someone experience something they have wanted for a long time is always a powerful experience… and over three days we shared the excitement of flying around in the helicopter, touching down on knife edge ridges and scoping dream lines from the sky. We bushwacked our way through giant cedar in old growth forests, sat atop peaks, rode deep bellied couloirs, popped off pillows and blinded ourselves in cold smoke. Watching Josh overcome challenge after challenge with incredible skill and determination and shred big lines put huge smiles on all of our faces. A zillion times Chad and I looked at eachother with our mouths wide open gawking at what he was able to accomplish on his man sized bullet on a ski.
The trip ended with us all skiing a beautiful big mountain line- the ones I dream of regularly– with rock walls standing tall on either side and a dog leg to the left in the middle. Josh dropped in first and we watched at the top as he sliced his way through white canvas with effortless determination. It was one sweet moment, and shortly after I dropped into my best run of the entire trip, pulled up and got to high five my friend at the bottom!! (I can’t wait for many more of those pow eating moments in the future.)
Thanks to Tim, Matt at Kingfisher Heliskiing, Brad for flying us around, Chad and Josh for an awesome couple of days!