Heli-Skiing versus The Helo Detail

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The videos are from my recent Heli trip to Sweden. Looks are deceiving. This is a huge area. Notice how the ski marks disappear. 

There was a time not long ago when I didn’t know a lot about Heli-skiing. Maybe I still don’t know now.

Heli-skiing is pronounced “hell-e skiing.” Example; “the heli took us to the top of the peak.” In my Navy days, we used to call it the Helo; pronounced ‘he-low.” Many hours were wasted in the Indian Ocean on the Helo Detail; sitting in a life boat along with 6 others in the unfortunate chance a rescue was needed. Lucky for me, it was not my turn to man the Helo Detail the day the life crew had to haul a dead man out of the Mediterranean Sea that was found floating in the path of our ship. I was also lucky that I didn’t have to pack “him” in the refrigerated container on the forward deck either

“Back in the day.” I had never flown on an airplane until the first day I flew from Boston to Chicago on my way to Navy Boot Camp, so as you could imagine, I had never flown on a helicopter either, but I always wanted to. Near the end of my enlistment, my ship was stationed off the coast of Beirut, Lebanon. I “may” have told the command structure that I was “thinking” of re-enlisting, and I would like to fly over to one of the amphibious ships to see what Navy life there was like. OK, OK…….there was no chance that I would re-enlist; I just wanted the helo ride, and because the Captain was so anxious to have me re-up, he arranged it. Well, “trouble” broke out on shore the day I was supposed to go, and I never got that ride.

Meanwhile, Heli skiing is a lot more interesting. I recently went heli-skiing for the first time in my life. You pay a fee, and show up. My trip was a one afternoon adventure. The really good operations in the U.S. and Canada have bigger programs that can last up to a week. They have amenities like 5 star accommodations, and gourmet chefs. The joke is they cater to old, fat, out of shape rich bankers who want the experience. Well other than the rich banker bit, I fit the role….kind of. Joking aside, in many operations, there are plenty of phenomenal skiers who don’t fit the role, and though their not pros, they could star in most any ski movie. I didn’t go this route. It can be quite costly, and the Heli may not even fly due to weather constrictions. My time included 5 runs top to bottom; which were very long runs, and though it was far more economical, it lacked in guiding foresight and planning. We skied far away from the local ski resort on completely “Off Piste” areas as do all operations. The snow conditions were great, and the experience amazing, but having done it now, I don’t think I’ll be going back to any European, or probably any other heli-ski operation ever again; well, until I’m really old and rich!

To quote our “guide;” “Ah, OK,…. try to spread out, so we don’t cause an avalanche, don’t ski off that cliff, and be careful of that crevasse over there……..OK, let’s go. And then he was gone!

On more than one occasion, I thought it would be nice to have the Helo Detail geared up and ready to rescue.

4 thoughts on “Heli-Skiing versus The Helo Detail

  1. Choppers feature in my post as well today! As I say there… chopper flying is an addictive buzz… I still miss my flying days! 😉
    I’m not too sure about the snow and stuff… too cold for my liking!! o_O

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