Seth Morrison Reports On Mica Heli and Holiday Travel in 2006
DENVER, CO (Monday, Jan. 1st, 2007)
This past winter I went on a trip to Europe filming for PBP and the still photographer from Norway brought along his Norwegian buddy to ski with us. His name Kaare, ended up getting bronchitis and had to go home, seems as though he was bummed about not getting to play in the snow with us and through that photographer, asked to set up another trip. Got an email this summer about where they wanted to go (Heli skiing at Mica Heli Guides in BC, Canada) and when. At the time it was so early it was hard to tell what the snow would be like or if I had any sponsorship obligations at that time. In the end I missed an Oakley photo shoot in Aspen to go on this trip. So we shot what we could to make up for missing the Aspen shoot. All the photos are what I took along the way even though we had a still photog on it.
So my trip started off with a drive to Loveland Ski Area in Colorado to get some runs in before I headed to the airport, since it was on the way. Get to the ski area for just 2 hours of skiing and met up with a marketing guy to make some runs. It was windy and snowing, the lifts were just able to run. After some runs, decided it was time to go when the lift stopped. Told the marketing guy Dustin I hope this does not take to long and he gets out his phone to help speed up the process of getting the lift going, and then it starts moving again. It was funny that we had that power at the time. So I get into my car and head to the airport. Go, park and take a bus in. As the bus is pulling into the airport I look at my itinerary again and realize that I was looking at the wrong time before and am now going to miss my flight. Find out that I will have to fly stand by, but there are 3 other flights to Seattle from Denver and I will still be able to meet up with the Seattle to Vancouver leg I was already booked on. Cool, wait for the first flight, full, wait for the second, Full again. At this point I have been on the Internet killing time at Wolfgang Pucks drinking and eating and look over at a TV playing the Seattle Seahawks game. The field was bubbling up all over the place from high winds there. Look at weather.com and see the radar and it’s a big storm rolling through the Northwest. Great, this is not looking good. Make the 3rd flight, have to sit on the runway for 20 minutes and figure that I will now miss the Seattle to Vancouver flight, which was the last one for the day. Land in Seattle and I run to the gate just missing that flight. They tell me at the gate that my bags will be in the baggage claim. Go down there and it was a crazy scene, bags and people everywhere. All the bags had no owners and most people had lost bags. After 30 minutes I realize my bags are not around. I speak with a baggage claim person that knew who I was and got him to search the whole back baggage area after not being able to find my bags where a bouts on the computer. Didn’t want to leave my bags before a drive to Van. After an hour he says my bags are not there, and that they must be in Vancouver. At this point its 2am in the morning, and I am feeling spent. Go to the rental car zone and as the printer is printing out a rental form the power goes out. AHHH, give the women a headlamp out of my computer bag and she finishes up the paper work and sends me on my way. The car was a yellow Ford Focus. Great! Driving into Canada in this, the boarder guys will have a good time with me.
As I leave the airport the wind is blowing like the top of Everest and begin to think maybe I should have gotten more of a bomber car for safety reasons. As you leave the airport to get onto the highway, you take an entrance ramp. Right away there was a tree in the highway. This drive was not going to be easy. To Vancouver it takes about 3 hours and during that time I almost ran over 4 fallen trees and almost crashed into a car that had hydroplaned. Being blown all over the road and raining, at least it did not snow on the way. It was hard to concentrate on this drive due to being so tired, but I had an early morning flight to catch. At the boarder the guy in front of me got arrested right out of his car. For me it was super easy crossing. Get to the Vancouver airport drop off the car go into get my bags that I hope are there. At this point I have to get someone for the airline I was supposed to fly in on to take me into get the baggage. After 30 minutes I get a women who takes me in, and there are the bags, sweet. At this time in the morning there are no flights coming in yet, so this means the customs at the airport have all the time in the world to mess with me. After an hour of searching and asking questions they let me on my way. So its 6:30am and the Norwegians that I am suppose to meet have informed me we are going to take a later flight. Cool, go to their hotel have breakfast and we drive back to the airport, trees all over the road. We find that we have to wait for about 4 hours after checking for new flights with a few different airlines. During this time of drinking I find out from the Norwegians that they skied Whistler yesterday and had a 6 hour drive back from there, normally takes 1.5hrs. So we are stoked it’s going to be deep in Mica. We catch our flight into Kelowna, BC and have a ride from the Mica Marketing guy Darren. Three hour drive to Revelstoke and its dark so we stay there since we can’t fly up in the
We wake, meet up with everyone (guides and clients) and drive the 1.5 hr drive to the heli pick up zone, unload and fly to the lodge. We get to the lodge by 9am have some food and more meetings about where we stay, safety, how to put on a beacon, avalanche beacon search, heli debrief, etc. This takes us till noon. We all were the first clients of the season so they had lots to say. We can only fly to 3:30 / 4pm due to the darkness that comes at this time of year. We finally get out and what had started off as a bluebird day has now started to get cloudy. We ski a handful of deep powder runs and are stoked after all the travel we have done to get here. The next 4 days were great deep snow and snowing conditions most of the time. This makes up for the last time when I was at Mica where the weather was super bad, limited flying and skiing almost nil. Everyday was deeper than the last, but due to cloudy weather we never made it up to the Alpine. We skied 2000 vertical tree runs mostly and the snow was so deep we never worried about not making it to the Alpine. After a few days the other clients left so we had the lodge to ourselves plus the staff. We ended up never seeing the sun except for that first day, but if you want fresh powder everyday that’s how it is. On departure from the lodge we flew in the heli back to the airport in Kelwona. This saved us tons of time. Landed at the airport, right next to the jets and headed in to check in. Back to reality! We got on our flight and were back in Vancouver, back to all the people and cars. Very noticeable after being in a Lodge in the middle of the mountains with only 10 people around. At this point I had known what was going on in Denver and knew the crazy travel was just about to begin again.
After a night of partying Vancouver style, say my good byes and thanks for an amazing trip, the heli ride to the airport the day before was a first for me. I went to the airport hours before my Seattle flight from Vancouver, since I was unable to get any United Airlines people on the phone. Most likely due to the Denver fiasco with weather. Come to find out the earliest I can fly home is the 24th, and today is the 21st. Decided to take my planned flight and tried to get anywhere closer to Denver, but all the United flights were booked, everywhere. Customs was no problems this time, then the flight was delayed. Upon arrival in Seattle my ski bag didn’t make it in, even after paying for extra weight. That bag was due in 3 hours later. So in the mean time I had Tim Petrick from K2 come to the airport to bring me a pair of the tribute Doug Coombs skis. So while he was coming over straight from work I went to a few other airlines and ended up being able to buy a flight on Southwest to Salt Lake City in the early morning. At this point I had accepted the fact that I was going to have to drive from somewhere to get back for the holidays since Denver airport was closed for a few days and who knew when it would open and if it would be worth dealing with. Had a chance to get on a flight right away that day to SLC, but not having the ski bag yet and not willing to leave it behind because who knew when I would ever see it again if I left that bag behind. While buying this ticket Tim came up with the skis and said I could stay with him and his family Michelle, Joe, Casey, and we could pick up my bag when it got in. He lives 10 minutes from the airport so this was a big help. On the drive to his house with him and his wife, they told me that the storm that hit Seattle when I came in last week, left them without power for 5 days. They live in a wooded area and had a few trees fall over, one damaged Tim’s truck, but other than that their home was lucky. We had some food went back to the airport to get my bag which made it when they said it would. Then back to sleep after watching some movies with their son Casey.
At 4:30 am Tim woke me and we went to the airport. When I was buying my ticket the night before the women at the desk told me that the lines would be out the door to check in so I should be early as possible. She was right, waited in a 30-minute curb check line. A women in line had 2 huge boxes of fish and just left them and said "Merry Christmas". Went in for security and another huge line. Was just glad to get in and know that I was on the flight and did not have to drive from Seattle to Denver.Get to SLC and it was snowing. Instead of waiting for my baggage, I went straight for rental cars desks. Went to four companies desks and was able to get a car for a lot of money. Sweet! There were many people just like me trying to go to Denver. Lucky to get a car with no reservation. Ran back in to get my bags, could not believe they made it. Then started my drive, the snow only lasted for a few hours and then it was dry roads, just before I hit I-70 people started passing me going about 90 to 100 mph. So I let them clear the way. Made it home dropped off my bags, and drove to the Denver Airport to drop off the rental and get my own car. The roads were fine all the way even though Denver had gotten over 2 feet, a storm that had shut down the city. Thought it would be smooth sailing now, but seven miles from the airport I hit traffic that took 1 hour to go five miles. What were all these people trying to do at the airport? At this point not many flights were coming or going. Thanks to my sister, I save a lot of time by having her meet me and drive me to my car, no bus ride and all that. Drove home and got there at 11:30pm. So a full day later than expected, but considering very lucky to be there.
Thanks to Tim and my sister Cara for making my trip a bit smoother, as well as Kaare for the great powder trip, had been skiing hard pack all season here in Colorado, so I have a bit of stunts under my belt from that trip. Big thanks to Mica Heli Guides, mostly Craig for the great-guided runs, and to Endre for getting some pro pics of me. All I can say is all the pow was worth it and I will never travel during the holidays again, not worth it. Have a deep winter, if you’re not having one, make it up to BC, Canada it will be well worth it.