Sky fall to love action

Rachael Oakes-Ash takes on the heli-ski slopes of Canada, where the men are plentiful and the women missing in action.

There is a little-known breeding ground of potential husbands-to-be deep in the heart of British Columbia's Rocky Mountains in Canada. Though, in order to access them, you will need the keys to a helicopter.

Canadian Mountain Holidays' 12 heli-ski lodges are remote, very remote, and each is in a different location. They are surrounded by thousands of square kilometres of deep snow only a mountain goat can safely negotiate. Put simply, there's no other way out, or as Kris Jenner, aka mama Kardashian, would say, "it's a captive market".

The lodge guest list changes every week, meaning 40 new people who eat, ski and dine together for seven days straight. With a ratio of at least four to five men to every woman, it's the ideal husband-hunting ground for single women looking for love and who like to ski.

I was single (but not looking for love) when I entered my first Canadian Mountain Holidays heli-ski lodge. The first night at dinner I was presented with a line-up of 29 men from Brazil, France, Canada, the US and beyond, plus three women, two married, from England. That left me and a posh teenage Brit spending her inheritance with daddy and his new bride (whom I mistakenly took for her sister).

Let's just say I didn't meet James Bond that week, but I met a lot of men who wanted to be. Then, who doesn't get a touch of the Daniel Craig when flying low over snow-laden peaks they intend to ski down?

The thing about heli-skiing is it feels extreme, elitist and decadent - and the most fun you can have ever because, well, it is.

Imagine having an entire mountain of untracked super-light, super-dry powder to make your mark on, skiing across open bowls and taking flight off pillows of snow. Then imagine a delectable spread of gourmet food to keep you fuelled; fun banter to keep you entertained; a hot tub to soothe the muscles; and a helicopter to take you back up the next day to do it all again.

The real reason the male visitor figures are so high is because so many women simply can't imagine it. But they should, because despite what the menfolk in your ski world tell you, if you are a strong, competent skier then you can definitely heli-ski. You don't have to be Bode Miller to enjoy it.


There is no jumping from choppers with skis strapped to one's feet. The truth is you alight from the chopper in ski boots and put your skis on once it has departed, then ski terrain to suit your ability.

Don't get me wrong, the normal dangers are still there. If you don't get hit in an avalanche then you might fall into a tree. But there's always a strapping heli-guide to cling to. The guides are trained to both keep us from harm and save our lives if the former doesn't work.

I am, however, concerned for my single friends that the word on the male-female ratio of heli-skiing may already have leaked out. A recent visit to the Cariboo Lodge in northern interior British Columbia had a ratio closer to 35 per cent women and 65 per cent men.

Not that I was complaining as I'm now in a relationship, and heli-skiing in Cariboo with a group of fun-loving females was a whole new world of fun. Besides, we did enjoy some flirtatious banter with Ernie, our handsome guide who has been skiing and guiding in these parts for the best part of 70 years.

You can be guaranteed Ernie wasn't complaining about the gender ratio.

The author was a guest of Canadian Mountain Holidays, Travelplan and Air New Zealand.

Frozen moments: where to meet your match

Big White Singles Mark Tuesday, February 12, in your diary. Big White Ski Resort has not one but two events aimed at singles. Start at 2pm with Bullet Speed Dating on the chairlift, then progress to the Traffic Light party at 7pm at Happy Valley. Wear red if you are involved, yellow if "it's complicated" and green if you're single and looking.

Gay Ski Week February 3 to 10 is WinterPRIDE week in Whistler Blackcomb. Expect mix-and-mingle events, dine-outs, ski guiding, Mad Hatter parties and more.

Marry Me and Ski for Free Grab a date and head to Loveland, Colorado, on February 14 for the annual Marry Me and Ski for Free event. All couples partaking in the communal wedding ceremony on the peak of the mountain get a free lift pass.

Bubbly and giddy Check out the world's highest champagne bar at Aspen Snowmass and mingle with fellow skiers and snowboarders. The Little Nell's mobile Oasis bar pops up in random locations complete with umbrellas, lounge chairs and a solar-powered sound system.

Trip notes

Getting there
Air New Zealand flies from Sydney to Vancouver via Auckland three times a week with fully flat beds in business class. 13 24 76,

Heli-skiing there
Canadian Mountain Holidays heli-ski lodges in British Columbia, Canada, have 12 lodges for different skiing levels and needs. From $4370 for four days, including accommodation, meals, powder skis or snowboard hire and transfers.

More information
Travelplan is the exclusive booking agent for CMH Heli Skiing in Australia. 1300 754 754,