Meet the Unofficial Mayor of Whistler Village: Interview with Powder Mountain Heliskiing and Catskiing



Interview by Tom Jackson, HELISKI.com

Recently we visited with Gordon Calder who runs Powder Mountain Heliskiing and Catskiing in Whister-Blackcomb, BC. He goes by Gord, and is the unofficial mayor of Whistler Village. What follows are 15 or so questions with HELISKI.com and HeliskiingReview.com


1. Gord, Powder Mountain used to be a catskiing-only operation. What made you decide to move up? (bad pun intended)


It has always been a dream, and when dreams come along you grab them and run.

2. Where is your terrain, in relation to Whistler-Blackcomb Resort?


15 minutes South. [387 square miles of terrain, so there is always a good aspect and angle to heliski.]


3. You get more snow than Whistler, too, eh?


30% more snow on average; if you don’t believe me I’ll prove it to you.


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More Snow than Whistler!


4. Describe a typical day of heli-skiing with Powder Mountain.


All I can say is “Bucket List,” with Whistler as your backcountry lodge.

Your Heli Day:

7:45am Meet at Gone Bakery in the Whistler Village, behind the grocery store, to check in and sign your waiver. Be dressed and ready to ski except for your ski boots. We drive you and your equipment to our simple base lodge The Powder Mountain base Lodge is 20 minutes south of Whistler on Highway 99 at the Chance Creek turn off, or to the Black Tusk Heliport in Squamish depending on weather conditions, where you meet your guides. .

With Gone Bakery being right behind the grocery store, you can watch everyone race for powder as you saunter over to the Backside of Gone Bakery with your guide for your ride down to our lodge. Please be on time. Time wasted is skiing wasted. You can never get back turns you missed.

8:00am Departure for “Your Best Day Ever” from the Gone Bakery. Don’t be late.

9.00am At our simple base lodge we have a cozy fireplace and bathroom facilities. After a short talk on the day’s proceedings and a short helicopter safety briefing, we load up the helicopter and head out into the backcountry.

Book and Ski Guaranteed: If the weather makes it impossible to fly, your powder day will be from our snowcat that we keep ready in case of the weather not cooperating. If your day is from the cat instead of the helicopter, you will only be charged for a day of catskiing not heliskiing.[cool]

9.15am – 9.45am You step out of the helicopter and begin a quick orientation to make you feel comfortable and to ensure you are familiar with our safety procedures and equipment. After that, it’s time to get our first taste of the day’s snow. You will be at an altitude between 6,500 and 8,000 feet, clicking into your bindings for the first run of the day. The first run is always a “Let’s Get Acquainted” run to let everyone get warmed up and so the guide can get an idea of everyone’s ability so they can plan the day that gets the best skiing or riding for the group. The groups’ ability and snow conditions determine what kind of terrain and runs we will be riding.

3.00pm – 3:30pm The end of your day depends more on the energy level of the group, snow and weather conditions, etc, than what time it is.

3:30 – 3:45pm You return to our Base Lodge, then transfer into our 4×4 vans and head back to Whistler.

4:30pm You are usually back in Whistler, dropped at Gone Bakery. [grinning ear to ear]


Bonus Question: As the unofficial mayor of Whistler, what are the best après-ski bars in Whistler Village?





5. If the weather looks iffy to fly, do you tell your guests to stay in town and ski Whistler?


HAHAHAHAHAA! No we jump in a cat and hit the most epic trees on the planet.


6. You ski the A-Star, so groups of four?


We do A-Star groups of 4 and a 214 for groups of 10.


7. How many groups per helicopter?


A-Star up to 3 groups of 4. In the Bell 214, 2 groups of 10.


8. Do you usually have space on short notice, or should guests make reservations before they get to Whistler?


If you only have one or two days to shred then book ahead. If you’re here for a week or so, feel free to roll last minute. We have a 24 hour cancellation policy and do not charge your card until the night before the trip leaves, so if you cancel there is no fee. [Cool]


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While you’re in the backseat, get me a beer


9. Can you recommend lodging in Whistler?


There are so many amazing places it does not really matter, just make sure your not right above a night club or you could get no sleep at all. [great insider tip…]


10. So, how did you come up with the name for Powder Mountain Heliskiing Catskiing?


Pretty easy, we have Powder and a Mountain. [Huh!]


11. Other than a Private, you offer 3-run and 5-run packages.

$595 for 3 runs

$995 for 5 runs

How much vertical does each usually get?


Tons, most people don’t have the legs for what we offer!

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Been there, skied that, got the T-shirt


12. Once your guests have had a taste, do you send them straight to


What’s the right answer? Of course!


13. So you are my gateway drug, eh?


We have Gateway and the Endway just jump on board for the ride. At Powder Mountain the answer is YES to every question. [Sounds like my old girlfriend]


14. Do you take a lot of heli-boarders?


With Ken Achenbach and Don Schwartz as the owners that is a big yes.


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Powder Mountain is OWNED by Riders!

15. Do you provide powder boards for guests?


No we suggest going to summit ski and sport in the Hilton hotel.


Anything else you want to add?


The only way to describe our place can be said in just two words.





LOL, you are the man, Gord!. Thanks. See you soon.

Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)

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Interview with Coast Range Heliskiing, Whistler Blackcomb Heli-Skiing BC Canada


Check out the latest in our series of Heliskiing Operator Interviews.

Also check out the New Blog Look – Comments Appreciated

Let us know if you want advice on the best trip for your group, too.
Whistler’s Coast Range Heliskiing Interview – HELISKI.com and HeliskiingReview.com 15 Questions with Coast Range Heliskiing  originally posted Nov 16, 2011 09:45 am | Tom Jackson

For starters, my partner Mike and I want to thank you for your generosity. When Mike’s grandson was in a bad accident, you offered a heliski trip to the charity auction on his behalf. Thanks again, Tyler!


1. When does the season open for Coast Range Heliskiing from Whistler?

We are set to fly our first tour December 10th, 2011.

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Escape Whistler-Blackcomb



2. What do clients need to do to get your 10% advanced booking discount?

To take advantage of our early booking offer guests must make their 2011-2012 heliski booking before November 31st.


3. What if they have to change dates or cancel?

We have a 24 hr cancellation policy so guests always have the chance to re-schedule should something unexpected pop up.


4. Where is your terrain, in relation to Whistler-Blackcomb Resort?

Coast Range Heliskiing operates in several areas North-East of the Whistler-Blackcomb Resort. Guests are picked up in Whistler village and taken on a quick 20 min chauffeured ride out to our home base in the quaint town of Pemberton where they will board the helicopter to ski/board in our Mount Currie zone.

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Coast Range Heliskiing Terrain Map


5. What made you decide to pioneer small group heliskiing in Whistler?

Some heli-ski companies ski in large groups of 10 or more. We like to offer a more personalized service where you get to know your guide, so we limit the group size to just four or five guests. Skiing in small groups makes it easier to match ability levels, reducing wait times and maximizing vertical so you’ll do more skiing/riding and ultimately end in a better experience.


6. What helicopters do you use, and how many groups per ship?

We fly in the A-star and Bell 407 helicopters. Both are fast dynamic machines that are quiet and nimble in the mountains providing a luxury experience for the smaller groups of 4-5 guests, maximum of 3 groups, that we specialize in.

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7. Describe a typical day of heli-skiing with Coast Range Heliskiing.

Guests are picked up at one of our 3 Whistler locations at 7:45am. They are then driven 20 minutes north in our comfortable vans to our base in nearby Pemberton. Upon arrival at our base facility they will be welcomed by our friendly staff with hot coffee and a light continental breakfast while completing some formalities including our comprehensive release of liability.

Guests then receive a safety briefing from both the pilot and guide. The group is then divided into groups of 4 or 5 based on skill level or specific request. As safety is our main concern guests will go over a complete safety briefing with their guide which includes a personal transceiver orientation. After mastering the use of the personal transceiver guests will be introduced to the pilot who will take them through the helicopter safety orientation.

Lift off is approximately 10.00am. Typically we complete 2 or 3 runs prior to lunch which is served in the alpine amidst snow capped mountains and beautiful frozen lakes. Guests will take in the crisp fresh mountain air and soak up the view. After lunch guests are refueled and ready for more glorious powder runs in the pristine alpine. Once guests have completed all the runs in their package they do have the option of purchasing additional runs at $95pp until the days end between 3-4pm when they return to the base for après-ski and a photo slideshow of the day. Then it’s finally time to prepare for the quick trip back to Whistler.


8. If the weather looks sketchy to fly, do you tell your guests to stay in town and ski Whistler-Blackcomb?

If it looks as though we won’t be able to fly we do try and let our guests know in advance so they can make alternate arrangements to switch their heliski trip to a different day and enjoy one of Whistler’s many other attractions, which could include skiing on the mountain.


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Deep, eh?

9. Do you usually have space on short notice, or should guests make a reservation before they get to Whistler?

We always recommend guests book in advance to secure their spots and also to get the best deal. We have a 24hr cancellation policy so if guests arrive in Whistler and decide that they would like to change their dates we are happy to accommodate them. Our booking office is centrally located in Whistler village across from the Whistler Gondola and we are happy to help out our guests.


10. Other than a Private, you offer 4-run and 6-run packages.

($960 for 4 runs; $1150 for 6 runs).

How much vertical does each usually get?

Our 4 run packages typically enjoys between 6,000-12,000 vertical feet of skiing, while our 6 run guests typically ski 9,000-18,000 vertical feet. It’s not unusual to get 4,000 vertical feet per run with a strong group on days when the conditions are in our favour. [Sweeeeeet!]


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Ooooooooh Yeeaaaaaaahh

11. How much are extra runs?

Extra runs are $95 per person.


12. What percentage of your guests buy extra runs, and how many?

75-80%, 1-2 extra runs.


13. What percentage of your guests are heli-boarders?

About 35% are heli-boarders; a number that has increased over the past 10 years.


14. Do you provide powder boards for guests?

We are happy to arrange for rentals of new powder snowboards through our rental partner in Whistler.


15. Anything else you want to add about Coast Range Heliskiing Whistler?

Coast Range Heliskiing is the boutique heliskiing operator in Whistler. We work hard to offer an unforgettable service to our guests, one that they will remember for their entire lifetime!



Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)

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Knowledge is Powder!
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Whistler Heli-Skiing Operator Interview. 15 Questions with Heli Skiing Whistler Blackcomb, BC HELISKI.com

There are three operators offering heliskiing at Whistler-Blackcomb. We recently visited with Whislter Heli-Skiing, the original helicopter skiing operator in Whistler. Enjoy!

1. Whistler Heli-Skiing has been completing bucket lists since 1983. You must lead the world in bucket list fulfillment. How often does a guest say “Best Day Ever?”

Every time we go Heli Skiing Whistler guests are ecstatic and pumped from the day they had. Whether it be their first time or their 20th time we have the terrain and the snow to keep guests having “the best day ever!”

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2. Whistler Heli-Skiing offers 3, 4 and 5 run packages. What do most clients choose?

We actually offer 3, 4 and 6 run packages. We recommend picking a package that suits your ability, pace of skiing and or your goals for the day. Most first timers start with a 3 or 4 run package depending on their ski experience especially in powder.

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3. Can guests buy extra runs? How much?

Yes we typically offer extra runs depending on the day (conditions, weather, timing). 3 and 4 run package extra runs = $85 and 6 run package extra runs = $95

4. What is your average vertical per run?

    • 3 runs (approx. 4,500 – 7,500 vertical feet, or 1,400 – 2,300 vertical meters of skiing)
    • 4 runs (approx. 6,000 – 10,000 vertical feet, or 1,800 – 3,500 vertical meters of skiing)
  • 6 runs (approx. 9,000 – 15,000 vertical feet. or 2,700 – 4,600 vertical meters of skiing).

6216548984_710e30261cBest Run? It’s a Grey Area in Canada

5. Does Whistler Heli-Skiing recommend lodging for your guests?

Most guests are in the resort of Whistler for a couple of days skiing on Whistler Blackcomb or doing other activities as well as heli-skiing. That’s one of the best things about Heli Skiing Whistler is that there numerous options for places to stay in Whistler based on your budget, or other requirements. We typically recommend staying in Whistler the night before to check in and get ready for your Heli-day. We always make the final call on whether we can go Heli-skiing or have to cancel due to weather the morning of.

6. How many guests are in each lift?

It depends on the package you purchase. The 3 and 4 run packages are in the Bell 205 Helicopter which typically holds between 7-10 guests. The 6 run package is in the Bell 407 which holds up to a maximum of 5 guests.

7. How many lifts per helicopter?

Depending on the time of year and volume of guests we have up to 3 groups per helicopter.

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8. What happens if the weather does not cooperate?

If Whistler Heli-Skiing has to cancel due to poor weather we offer guests a FULL Refund and or the ability to move to the next available day or try to get them out on the next they want to go.

9. So you have a photographer / videographer?

Yes it is included in the 3 and 4 run packages. A photographer will work with each group to take some photos and a video of one run of each group.

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10. How many of your guests are heli-boarding?

I’d think 30-40% of our guests are heli-boarders.

11. Do you have powder snowboards for your guests?

Yes Whistler Heli-Skiing (WHS) has many great powder boards to rent. We highly recommend boarders use them as it makes the day so much easier and fun to really float on the fresh snow.

12. When does the Whistler Heli-Skiing season open?

Season dates for 2011-12 are Dec 3rd 2011- April 22nd 2011

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13. Can guests get a deal if they book more multiple days?

Yes we offer $100 off and free rentals for subsequent days within the season.

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14. Do you offer deals to groups?

Depending on the time of year and availability WHS does offer some incentive for groups of 10 or more people to pre-book Heli-skiing.

15. Anything else you would like to add about Whistler Heli-Skiing?

Just beyond the ski lifts of Whistler and Blackcomb, minutes from North America’s #1-ranked Ski Resort, awaits the ultimate high-alpine experience. Imagine carving through untracked powder, endless terrain and breath-taking scenery. With hundreds of ski runs, there is a tremendous variety of slopes to accommodate all levels of skiers and boarders from intermediate to expert. The skiing varies from wide-open glaciers to beautiful gladed tree runs. The heli-ski area is made up of several zones and is approximately 50 miles north/south by 30 miles east/west (80km by 50km). Your guide will select terrain within a zone according to snowfall, the weather, and your group’s ability.

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Thanks. See you in Whistler!



Tom Jackson
CPO (Chief Powder Officer)

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Escape from the Lift Lines

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Coast Range Heliskiing (Whistler) Deal for 5

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Local Corporate/Staff Heliski Special!

Looking for an amazing way to say Thank you to your hard working staff, or perhaps you need a team building activity?… an unbelievable one.

From March 15th to the end of the season,

based on groups of five, get our six run Powder Hound Package for $2999

Based on direct bookings. Other discounts may not be used in conjunction with this special pricing, all packages are subject to HST.

Call or Email them, and let them know HELISKI.com sent you.

604-894-1144 or info@coastrangeheliskiing.com

Heliskiing Whistler – Cool Options

Whistler-Blackcomb Rocks – Add a day of heliskiing or heliboarding and it’s a peak experience.

There are three operators accessible from Whistler (not including those you can jump to from Vancouver or Pemberton like TLH Heliskiing, Northern Escape Heli-Skiing, Bella Coola Heli-Sports and Last Frontier Heliskiing.

Here is a summary of the three at Whistler. Email or call (866-HELISKI (866-435-4754) if you have questions or want recommendations.


Coast Range Heliskiing skis in small groups (three groups of 4) Just 25 minutes from Whistler.

  • 4-Run Package is $960, 6-12K vertical
  • 6-Run Package is $1150, 9-18K vertical
  • Additional Runs $95
  • Privates available
Heliskiing Whistler British Columbia Canada
Coast Range Heliskiing takes you to the top



Powder Mountain Catskiing and Heliskiing offers catskiing backup and the landing zone is just 20 minutes from the Village (South on 99). They ski in three groups of 4 and average 2.5-3K vertical per run.

  • 3-Run Package is $795 Cdn +HST, expect 7-9K vertical
  • 5-Run Package is $995 Cdn +HST, expect 12.5-15K vertical
  • Additional Runs are $95

Check out this picture from yesterday (December 17)!

heli-skiing whistler with powder mountain heliskiing and catskiing
GM Gord ( right) with poster shot – Powder Mountain Heliskiing and Catskiing



Whistler Heliskiing offers 3, 4 and 6 run packages. They ski in a bigger machines, with 7-10 guests in a group.

  • 3-Run Package is $815, averaging 4.5-7.5K vertical feet
  • 4-Run Package is $899 averaging 6-10K vertical feet
  • 3-Run Package is $1150, averaging 9-15K vertical feet, using a Bell 407 in groups of 5 guests per lift
  • Extra Runs are $85

Wondering if you can hang? Take the Whistler Heliskiing Ability Questionnaire

Save money on your facial, skip the spa and add a day of facials with Whistler Heliskiing

Heliskiing Whistler BC Canada
Skip the Spa, Facials Included!

How early can you Heliski in Canada?

We are working with a couple who want to go helicopter skiing in early December. Most heliski operators start the season after Christmas or New Years. (In fact some have great deals on heli skiing around New Years and early January.

As it turns out, we found some great options with both Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing and Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH). 3, 4 and 7 day heliskiing trips are available starting the last week of November!

The resort-based heli-skiing operators start around mid December. These include Helitrax Heliskiing Telluride, Whistler Heliskiing and Wasatch Powderbird Guides heli-skiing in Snowbird, UT (say that three times fast).

Resort + heliski options are available early season from Great Canadian Heliskiing, Snowwater Heli Skiing, Eagle Pass Heli-Skiing to name a few.  Snowwater and Great Canadian also offer catskiing combined with heliskiing.

So, it’s never too early to heliski!