Gertsch family’s heli-skiing legacy starts a new chapter at CMH

In Heli-Ski, Origins, People
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August 30, 2021 | Words by Katie Gertsch

Editor’s note: The following words by the Gertsch family originally appeared in the final edition of The Yodel, an e-publication by Purcell Heli-Skiing, following the announcement that Alterra Mountain Company (CMH’s parent company) has acquired Purcell Heli-Skiing.

Founder of Purcell Heli-Skiing, Rudi Gertsch (left), with son and ski guide Jeff Gertsch (centre) and daughter-in-law Katie Gertsch (right).

The story I have for you today is the most important one I’ve ever told.

And it’s in reverse.

It starts with an ending, and finishes with a beginning.

To set the scene, please know, Rudi, Jeff and I are truly happy about both. 

First, the ending:

Purcell Heli-Skiing has been acquired by Alterra Mountain Company and will be folded into CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, joining the CMH family of incredible backcountry destinations.

Our magnificent operating area and lodge will become the new home of CMH Purcell.

Deciding to sell a family business, especially one that’s been in the family as long as ours, is not a move anyone makes lightly.

Today we cross a finish line. Today is the culmination of countless hours taking stock, looking back, and looking forward – acknowledging the pride of where we’ve been, the potential still unrealized, and recognizing who needs to guide that future.

It’s the result of acting on that which has been part of our DNA from the very beginning: how do we take this tradition into the future?

And when it came to the question of who we would trust with that future, for Rudi, there was only one answer: CMH.

When Rudi struck out on his own in 1974, after guiding for CMH during some of the first years of heli-skiing anywhere on Earth, Purcell Heli-Skiing was born.

And while CMH and Purcell took their own distinct directions in the decades that have passed, Rudi has always felt that, in terms of core values, we’ve been running on parallel tracks.

The tradition of guiding. Professionalism and safety above all else.  The experience of the guest at the centre. The preservation of history. The courage to adapt.

Most of all, CMH has never forgotten what a rare privilege it is to have access to the wild backcountry in the way that we do.

That’s why we’re here today.

So for Rudi, this moment is everything coming full circle. A return to the original family, the original spirit of a group of adventurers and guides at the horizon of something new.

Because what’s to come is a synthesis. 

Here we are at the beginning.

What stays is our format – still led by Jeff – a small group of six guests with a private helicopter, two guides, and a massive area of untouched powder to explore.

What comes in to support that is broader resources and some of the best people in the industry.

The truth is, the places out there, in that mountainous terrain we know so well, and the experiences we take home when we visit them, are more important than us. 

That’s how we know the legacy continues unbroken.

When things of value are placed in good hands, there will always be more of that story to tell.

And our part of the story can’t be complete without expressing our immense gratitude to all of you. For all the support, the trust, the patronage, the connections, the friendship, and of course, the days spent in fantastic places.

Thank you.

It has been the stuff of our lives, and will shape us forever.

This will be the final Yodel you receive. 

It was conceived as a call from one to another, because we don’t do any of this alone.

Rudi’s not going to stop skiing, or yodeling. But he sure likes the sound of the choir.

Because now, there’s an incredible team ready to carry that voice further.

We are happy. We are proud. We can’t wait to see what the future holds, and the epic experiences in store for you.

If you’re coming to CMH Purcell this winter, Jeff and our team of guides will be here to welcome you.

Learn more about CMH Purcell >