Words by Bob Krysak
CMH has guests from all over the world, some that ski multiple times in a season and many who have been skiing with CMH for over 30 years. When you reach 1 million vertical feet of skiing/riding, which some have done in one season and others in 8-10, you are awarded a two piece suit made by Arcteryx (see photo to the right). There is a bottle of champagne shared by the recipients group, and there is a pin and certificate commemorating the achievement.
On average, 250-350 suits are given out each year, and there are 3,800 guests who have from 1 million to 20 million vertical feet. In some weeks in a lodge there will be 11-12 suits awarded in high season. So we make sure we are well stocked with champagne!
The idea of giving something to commemorate the million foot achievement came in early 1971-1972 from Chip Fisher who was at the time the manager of Head Ski Canada. His suggestion was an elegant blazer. We had some blazers made and awarded a few, but found that proper sizing and fit were a problem and people did not find them particularly useful.
When Andre Noel took over from Chip (1974) he suggested we do a ski jacket. This was made by HCC (Henri Charles Colsonet) from Geneva. The jacket had a “diaper” that would go under the crotch to keep the snow from coming up inside the jacket. This soon evolved into the first powder suit.
Since the early beginnings of the suit from HCC we have had suits from Far West, Ditrani (see image below), Bogner, Marmot and now Arcteryx.
The suit is a badge of honor, and in many cases a conversation opener. Many times I have been in an airport or at a ski resort and have seen someone wearing the suit. It opens up the chance to ask if the skier/rider has been to CMH, and great stories and memories are shared. Today we have some guests that are in their 80’s who still come skiing with us and still have the sparkle in their eyes as they recount the many runs shared with family and friends.
As Hans Gmoser, founder of CMH said:
“A person should have wings to carry them where their dreams go, but sometimes a pair of skis makes a good substitute”
I hope you have a chance to realize your dreams at one of our Lodges. And if you already have, we’d love it if you’d share your story here!
Photos: Neos AR – the CMH Million Foot Suit jacket, circa 2010
CMH Heli-Ski guests Paul Dudzinski and Reb Forte receive their Million Foot suits together at the Bobbie Burns Lodge, April 13, 1987. Photo by Mark Dudzinski supplied by Reb Forte.