How to Heliski in -30°CPosted on: Wednesday, May 20th, 2020
So you can shred that perfect pow better!
Set on the northeastern shore of Quesnel Lake, Silvertip Lodge is the most remote and wild heliski operation in BC. Operating off the grid, the lodge is heated by wood-fired boilers and it’s not uncommon to see moose wandering the lakeshore outside. This sort of true northern experience sometimes comes with true northern weather conditions at times.
But those frosty days make for perfect, dry blower powder snow and with unlimited runs per day, staying warm is essential, no one wants to lose the next best run of their life due to frozen fingers or toes. With that in mind, here are a few tips and tricks to staying warm and shredding hard when those arctic outflows hit.
No one, not the 55-year-old pow hounds nor the 25-year-old cliff huckers, regrets splurging for heated boots. Bring an extra battery for long days and your toes will love you forever.
Hotshots in the Mitts
Yes, mitts are inherently warmer than gloves and with one of those chemical reaction heat packets in there, your digits will stay toasty all day. (Contemporary Hot Shots work much much better than the ones some of us remember from the 80s. They even make thing ones designed for your boots.
Fresh Socks at Lunch
This is a classic Silvertip trick. When the weather is super cold the bird brings you home for a hot lunch (take advantage of the best soups ever!) This is a good time to de-boot, chuck the boots on the warmer/dryers in the equipment room and go get a fresh pair of socks (merino wool is always a good call).
Insider tip: there are heaters on the floor behind the front seats of the Bell-212 chopper. And they are blasting heat so don’t be afraid to stick a cold down there, reheat some gloves, or (most likely) defrost everyone on your side of the bird’s foggy goggles. Those heaters are essential no matter where you sit and the short time it takes for the Heli to whip you back up into powder paradise will also warm your bones enough to keep you going for another lap.
The first rule of cold weather shredding, this one will be highly personal, everyone runs at a different temperature and depending on your fitness level, that bottomless pow in the trees can heat you up more than you think. The basic recommended set up for -30°C or lower is a base layer (merino at least 200-weight), a fleece, a thin down warm layer, and a solid water-resistant shell.
Worn under your helmet. The best are those with a larger single face hole that you can pull up or down. Airholes makes great ones. Be wary of breathing through the small hole in the face protector, It will get wet and freeze and might give you diaper rash on your chin. As well, if you pull your balaclava up so it sits under your goggles some of your breath will get up in there and fog those lenses, just sayin’.
Get your blood pumping and your stoke high. That’s the most fun way to stay warm.
Words: Feet Banks via mountainlifemedia.ca
Photography: Zachary Moxley