By James Rose
james@columbiavalleypioneer.com

RK Heliski’s season gets underway Dec. 26 and will go as long into the Spring as conditions allow.

Bookings are to be done in a cohort or bubble, said Graham Holt, RK’s general manager. “Our restaurant and lodge as a whole will be at 50% capacity with no walk-ups permitted for dinner.”

Meteorologists are classifying this winter as a moderate La Niña. This isn’t wive’s tale mythology territory. It has to do with temperature readings in the Pacific Ocean. Meteorologists are interpreting the data weather being influenced by colder water in the Pacific along the equator.

“The final verdict, my educated guess for this winter is normal snow to as much as ten to twenty percent above normal,” said Cory Gates, an award-winning meteorologist. Gates worked for more than two decades as a lead forecaster for the United States National Weather Service. Since leaving the government, Gates set up a private weather forecasting firm in Colorado’s Elk Mountains. Gates predicts macro weather trends relevant to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, all the way up the Rocky Mountains trench into Canada, including B.C. and Alberta.

A good snow forecast and a unique competitive advantage RK has over other heli operators keeps a pep in Holt’s step. “We are one of the very few front country heli operators where clients can drive up to the helicopter for their day of skiing,” he said. Day helitrips. Wake up in your Copper Point Resort hotel room, ski the wild purcell backcountry all day, back to ULLR for a burger and a beer. The global grandaddy of heli-skiing, CMH shockingly, is opening only one of their twelve lodges this coming season, Bobbie Burns north of the Bugaboos lodge.

Holt thinks the domestic demand for special outdoor recreational spending will remain steady. But that’s not to say the loss of the American market won’t sting. RK is thankfully not as exposed as CMH. At RK, group bookings must range between four and nine people. No more or less. A 48-hour advance cancellation policy will be in place. “We have a flexible policy,” said Glacier Graham. Masks will be mandatory in the bird and in the heli huddle.