“You have to wear a mask but you still get to fly in a helicopter and it’s just a process but the actual skiing is still the best product in the world.”
As winter approaches, CMH Heli-Skiing up in BC has been fine tuning best practices to operate during the the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. For skier and snowboarders, CMH’s 2020/21 season will look different than previous years, with new health and safety protocols in place to ensure a successful season. Here’s a behind the scenes look at the hundreds of hours of preparation that have gone into readying for guests this season. FULL DETAILs BELOW:
Hello Skiers and Riders:
What is happening at CMH for this winter?
Without a doubt, this is the question of the moment from everyone eager to get back here and go skiing. While a lot can still happen in the months leading up to this winter, I wanted to provide you with an update on where we are as of today.
Canada’s borders remain closed to non-essential international travel. For those who are allowed to enter the country, a 14-day quarantine exists. While the Canadian government is evaluating these restrictions every 30 days, as long as they remain in place, they understandably prohibit most of you from coming to CMH.
We are aligned with our sector (and other industries who are reliant on international tourism) to work with government to get the borders open. However, in order to deal with the uncertainty surrounding travel to Canada, we have pushed all final payments back to eight weeks prior to trip start dates. If your country is still unable to enter Canada at that time, we will push final payment to four weeks. I see no sense in asking for the remainder of your payment if you cannot travel to CMH.
To that end, four weeks prior to your trip we will make the operational “go vs. no go” decision (we have chosen four weeks because it will give both our guests and staff enough time to plan accordingly). If the borders for your country are open at that time, we will take final payment. If at four weeks out, your country is still restricted from entering Canada, you have the following options:
- Move your full funds to the same trip* in the 2021/22 season, with no change fee.
- Move your full funds to a different trip in the 2021/22 season, with no change fee. (This option requires that you book your space as 2021/22 trips become available)
- Put your funds on account to be used towards a new trip within 2 years.
- Full refund if the above options are not suitable for you.
To facilitate this, we will release the following winter’s trips a little differently this fall – instead of taking bookings in October, we will have a rolling Booking Week for winter 2021/22.
This enables the above options, as well as provides the added benefit for those guests who are able to travel to CMH, to have the option to book the same trip for the following season once their trip is finished. Whereas in a typical year, that trip would already have filled up during our Booking Week or shortly thereafter. For clarification, guests who are able to heli-ski with us this winter will have one week from the trip end date to put their deposit down for the same trip next winter. After a short period of time, the remaining spaces on that trip will open up for bookings to Million Footers for one day, to CMH guests and Ikon Pass holders the next day, and then they will be released to the general public.
How CMH is Adapting to COVID-19
Over the past several months, we have been working hard to modify our program to better manage the risk of COVID-19. We have developed specific protocols in conjunction with our medical consultants and guidance from Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer and BC’s Provincial Health Officer. These protocols assume that there could be asymptomatic carriers at the lodge and institute the appropriate measures. Our number one priority is the health and safety of our guests and staff.
In order to test our protocols, we ran a full-on simulation at the Bobbie Burns lodge at the beginning of August. This two-day simulation covered all aspects of the CMH experience – from coach travel to the helipad, flying into the field (yes we even had our ski gear) and the lodge program including dining, massage, morning stretch and everything in between. We had roughly 30 “guests” and 20 staff present to experience, evaluate, and learn how we will operate in this new normal. I am happy to report that the exercise went well, and we have since further refined our protocols. Learn more >>
What to Expect – Same, but Different
We have all had to make changes in our lives in order to adapt to COVID-19 and CMH is no different. We are applying the same rigor to our pandemic preparedness as we do for avalanche & helicopter safety, and just like those directives, we will require all guests and staff to work together and follow our health protocols with no exceptions – as they have been created with your safety in mind.
Transport Canada now requires all helicopter passengers to wear face coverings, and CMH will provide you with a custom mask for this purpose – the mask is being designed specifically for the heli skier’s needs– easy to take off prior to skiing/riding, and easy to put on at the pick-up.
People traveling within their “cohort” will be able to sit, dine and enjoy each other’s company without any physical distancing, however, we have worked to re-arrange our seating and lounge areas to accommodate those that aren’t in a bubble to still be able to socialize – and when physical distancing is not possible, we will ask that you wear a mask.
We will be requiring each guest to sign a pledge that indicates they will abide by the protocols we have set forth for this winter. For those of you that are unwilling to observe these changes, for whatever reason you may have, we ask that you postpone your CMH trip to a later date – our booking policies have been adjusted accordingly.
To the extent that testing is available and accessible in your home country, we are also encouraging all guests to get tested for COVID-19 prior to coming to CMH.
While the experience may be slightly different this winter, it will still be the CMH that you have come to know and love, our test run in the Bobbie Burns last month reassured us that.