CMH - Five-Day Trip Revelstoke Heli Snowboarding

Booking a snow trip in advance is a gamble. You take a chance on the weather, hoping for the perfect conditions.


In late March, during my trip from the 20th to 24th, a heatwave brought several days of summer weather to the entire Pacific Northwest. Snow level rose drastically. Revelstoke, a small town, basked in warm sunshine. Only dusty patches of snow remained in the corners of parking lots.

三月中的一波热浪几乎席卷整个北美西北,几乎一个周末的时间,气温从冬天转为夏天。周末提前登滑去了Mount Rainier的Camp Muir,感受到了“直把三月作五月”的体验。又将手机里各种气象预报软件反复打开,最终得以放下执念,决意享受度假时光。

Conditions were completely different on my previous trip to Revelstoke in Christmas 2021. Despite a thin early-season snow base, a winter storm brought frigid temperatures - thermometer dipping down to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This time, however, everything had transformed. The lake was thawed, and new growth sprouted on the branches.

Over the five days, we hoped for some nighttime snowfall, but only a few centimeters accumulated. Landing on the ridges in the helicopter, I encountered a thick layer of ice encasing the powder snow from early March. In some areas, this firm layer was so thick that my boots and board could barely break through it.

Despite the lack of ideal snow conditions, the views were breathtaking, and the guides did find pockets of terrain with softer snow. While experiencing true powder days remained elusive across North America, both in resorts and the backcountry, I found myself surprisingly content - at in-bounds resorts in Salt Lake City or Colorado, fresh snow would disappear immediately after just a run or two; in the backcountry, the single ideal window for harvesting spring corn snow was really narrow, offering just several perfect turns for the entire day’s effort.

Over four days, we explored four distinct areas around Revelstoke, each with unique features. Two days were spent shredding the glaciers, while the remaining two for tree runs and lower-elevation terrains. Checking the terrain map and soaking in the surrounding views, I couldn’t help but imagine the thrills these runs would offer only if snow conditions were ideal.

I also noted down some touring-accessible destinations. Mount Begbie‘s twin peaks stood out, with a seemingly inviting chute facing Revelstoke and the Columbia River. The descent must offer an incredible view.

Despite the lack of ideal snow, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, perhaps due to my lowered expectations. The warm weather allowed me to explore the town beyond the slopes. I enjoyed afternoons visiting museums, restaurants, and bars before dinner.

The town has a railway crossing and a nearby railway museum. Displayed were historic locomotives and carts, along with photographs chronicling the construction of the railway from the mountains to the coast. The exhibits highlighted the ‘collaborative efforts’ of various communities.

A charming cafe called “La Baguette“ is worth a visit. Local musicians provided a casual atmosphere in the evenings. I tried the “Frangelica Latte”, which was surprisingly delicious, especially during the winter. With my new luxury coffee machine at home, I might even attempt to recreate it.

Raja Ampat Above the Water - Sauwandarek Village

The 14-day liveaboard diving experience during Xmas in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, was so unique to me that there is no way for me to summarize everything in just one or two posts. I will try to upload the photos here, post by post, to share some of the best memories.

On the third day of the trip, we were in the Dampier Strait and visited Sauwandarek Village.

It was during the afternoon, and the children were playing in the water on the beach. They must play on the beach every day, yet they still enjoyed it so much.

Though not entirely fresh, it was my first time cutting open coconuts, and it was quite fun! The knife was not as sharp as I had expected, but the girl managed it very well.

In the center of the village, there was a school. The classrooms were clean and tidy. I could imagine that the educational resources were limited here. I wonder how much they wish to leave this place when they grow up.

Our guide informed us that this village was one of the largest ones. Yet, the people living here were still poor. The government spent limited funds for local development, and the rest depended largely on tourism. They must have struggled a lot during the pandemic.

The children here were lively, just like the lively fish in the ocean.

Sun Valley and Hemingway's Traces

El Niño has left the snow conditions in the Pacific Northwest historically poor this year. And the snow trip we had booked long ago naturally turned into a more laid-back journey. Though we arrived in Boise amidst a winter storm, the accumulation amounted to no more than an inch or two, followed by several dry days.

By the middle of January, the mountain was still heavily reliant on snowmaking, with only a third of its terrain open. Though the snowfall was insufficient, it was at least dry and packed, a stark contrast to the heavy, wet cascade concrete.

The mountain terrain proved challenging; even the green runs could be compared to the dark blue runs in Seattle.

Before arriving Ketchum, I was unaware that Ernest Hemingway spent his later years there. The place was entirely new to me. My mom loves Hemingway’s masterpieces very much. To me, I have only read The Old Man and the Sea and snippets of The Sun Also Rises. Being here, I decided to explore the legacies of this American novelist and outdoorsman, who devoted his time hunting, fishing, and writing in this locale.

Above is the map from a brochure A Guide to Ernest Hemingway in Idaho. Most of the sites were situated within the town of Ketchum and very accessible.

Since the snow condition was not good, we decided to have an alternative activity. We headed to the rental shop for fat bikes. Ketchum, a small town, had well-maintained bike trails even in winter, with snow plowed from the town center along Sun Valley Road and Trail Creek Road. Biking allowed us to enjoy the winter afternoon and visit the Hemingway Memorial near the end of the trail’s maintained section. Fat biking, with the bouncing feeling, was of much fun!

The inscription on the plaque of the memorial, originally penned by Hemingway as a eulogy for a friend, was ultimately chosen by the sculptor to honor Hemingway himself, commemorating his life’s end in Ketchum.

Sun Valley is certainly worth a future visit to fully explore the Bald Mountain. If possible, the surrounding peaks, especially Galena Peak, could also become enticing backcountry destinations.

1 - Idaho is famous for its potatos and this is from Boise Fry Company
2 - Taking a photo at Hemingway’s Memorial
3 - Two portraits inside Sun Valley Lodge - Hemingway and Marilyn Monroe
4 - Old snowboards - 1998 and 1996

“Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills the high blue windless skies
… Now he will be a part of them forever”