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The Real Bill Napier
I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Swift's story. He made the reader feel like a member of the group, skiing along with him and the others. This moving story has brought me one step closer to putting on skis and journeying down a mountain.
My own heli-skiing trip during the New Year's holiday was indescribable. The memories of sun-drenched powder runs will last a lifetime. Canadian Mountain Holidays Inc. did everything possible to keep the skiing fun and safe. But as skiers we recognized and accepted the dangers.
En route to my first CMH heli-skiing trip, I read Swift's article, as did others on the trip. Two of our party took the next flight home, forfeiting their investment. The rest of the group continued on, with some trepidation. Now, on my way home, I can report the article was an accurate account of a heli-ski vacation with the exception of the obvious negative tone. We found our trip to be rewarding and fulfilling.
As a veteran CMH heli-skier and group leader, I found Snow Blind distressing. I was heli-skiing in Canada the same week Swift was, but I was at Monashees. It snowed at least a foot a day, we never saw the sun, we skied in the trees all week in bottomless powder, we fell and got wet, our goggles fogged, we sweated, and the helicopter renewed "the vicious cycle" over and over. In short, we had the best week ever. One man's dream is another man's nightmare. Certainly the death of a fellow skier is heartbreaking. However, it should be emphasized that Eric King, the skier who died, was not following the rules. CMH is very safety conscious, and its guides are well trained.
Your article mentions that King routinely veered 100 yards or more to either side of the line established by the guide. CMH ski guides are certified professional mountain guides, responsible, knowledgeable and assertive. But they arc not drill sergeants, and, in the last analysis, they are in effect employees of the clients, most of whom are very independent and a few of whom, unfortunately, are reckless. Your article gives a fine company a bum rap.
While I can hardly be pleased about Swift's article, I do realize that heli-skiing is a highly subjective experience, tempered by the participant's attitude and ability, and therefore the guest's perception is for him the ultimate truth.
This, however, does not give license to insinuate, pass off hearsay or distort the truth.
Had your writer looked past the pictures, he would have seen that our brochure states very clearly and in bold print that a) "on marginal weather days we can only ski in the trees," b) that this may be "a frustrating experience not meeting your high expectations," and c) "there are risks beyond our control which you have to share with us."