Après Above the Clouds
This story was written for Corona Extra Canada, for their Winter 2016 "Closer to the Sun" campaign. This is post 3 of 8. The original blog can be found here.
Resorts are not the only places worth skiing, and they certainly aren’t the only places worth celebrating. If you have every dreamed of heli-skiing- letting a helicopter escort you to rarely explored runs where you can chase fresh powder and carve your own lines, you know what I am talking about. Whistler just happens to be the ultimate place to check this experience off of your extreme-sports-bucket-list. And we were rearing to go. On a bluebird day, with headsets on, eyes wide, and grins stretched broad, we began our ascent. Though I should warn you- there is a twist to this story as good as a lime in a cerveza.
We did not scratch heli-skiing off our own (lengthy and growing) bucket lists that day. We did one better. The helicopter chauffeured our group to a glacier complete with sun-loving lounge chairs, a stunning, bird’s eye view of every mountain in sight, and a bucket of snow-cold Coronas just waiting to be enjoyed. Meet heli après-skiing. Now this is a winter sport I could really get into.
Our vantage point towered over both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains in elevation and, therefore, in scenery. Upon touchdown, we had an astonishing three hundred and sixty degree view of the Coastal Mountains. Laughter and excitement ensued, fresh tracks were made, beers were raised, and celebratory “cheers” commenced. This was, by far, the most epic après-ski anyone could ask for. Even the weather was in agreement.
Much of our time on the mountain was spent conversing and sharing hysterics over the landscape in front of us. But as the clouds moved and time passed, our audible exclamations slowly waned. The sun approached distant mountains and everyone became immersed in the sky’s ever-changing evolution.
In my life, the moments that have always stood out have been metaphorical taps on the shoulder, little elbow nudges, or even big shoves. They have been cues to look up, glance around, and not let life pass by- reminders that I am awake, alive, and part of a world much bigger than myself. That day, it was witnessing sunset from atop the glacier. In the end, it was more about how it felt than what it looked like. Though I have to say, it looked fabulous.
The helicopter ride back to Whistler was a quiet one. Our group seemed to be absorbed in the experience we just shared. Memorable moments were passively sorted through and sifted into hearts, minds, and memory banks. I was remembering how satisfying it was to make footprints in the untouched snow. It was similar to parading around on an abandoned beach, full of clumsy abandon. I recounted how appealing the vibrant pink sky was closest to the sun, and the soft blues that enveloped the range one hundred and eighty degrees from her descent. I relived how it felt to be small and humble, standing in awe of nature; though I also embraced feeling tall and abundant- little me, soaring at the top of a mountain.
As the helicopter landed softly into a flume of powder, I glanced around at everyone’s peaceful expressions and smiled to myself. We all have our own journey. Though in the end, the best experiences are when we cross paths, pause, and share a vantage point. Our heli après-ski was no exception. This time, however, our paths just happened to cross a few thousand meters above sea level. Now that’s something worth celebrating.
(photo credit: Mitchell Taylor)
This campaign was full of spontaneity, brewskies, and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-ski-pants adventure. To read these stories chronologically, start with the first post, "From Beach to Peak", where we head to Whistler, British Columbia.