Pre-Season, Safety

Selective glading improves heli skiing runs; results in completely changed feel

A chainsaw sitting on a snowbank with trees in the backWith the ski season just around the corner, we at Northern Escape are getting excited. It’s the time of year where the staff all come together with stories of off-season pursuits and ideas for a great upcoming winter. Our enthusiasm feeds off of each other as we work together to get ready for another successful season. While the office staff works to finalize bookings and get everything in place, the boys are out in the field improving our vast terrain. Selective glading improves heli skiing runs to produce a better skiing experience for our guests.

Over the course of a week, Skiing Operations Manager Clair Isrealson led a crew in “selective glading” or “thinning” some of our tree runs. Or as he put it, “making a lot of sawdust” in order to improve The Bitter End. Located in the Promised Land area of our extensive tenure, what used to be a large alpine area that funneled into awkward trees now boasts three exits through the trees to a recently logged area below. This has resulted in extended runs and more open areas, producing a completely changed feel.

Glading is more than just going to an area and cutting down trees, though. It’s all about strategic planning. In this case, the crew decided to take advantage of the commercial logging operation in order to expand the Bitter End area. This way we were able to make use of the already cleared areas and minimize our impact on the forests of our tenure. The runs were mapped out to allow better appreciation of the fall line of the area and the fun of the pitches, while only removing the trees that were necessary. It is a fine balance between improving the skiing and leaving the natural setting that makes the mountains so alluring.

The crew, consisting of Skiing Operations Assistant Manager Mikey Olsthoorn, Head Guide Ryan Merrill, Operations Manager Chad Hamilton, and labourer Jason Burns, worked tirelessly to get it just right. The days were long, but Clair and the crew say the results are definitely worth the effort. Northern Escape plans to continue annual sustainable glading in the off-season to make all of our tree runs as good as they can be for our guests.