CMH announces new heli-ski area, CMH Purcell

In Heli-Ski, Origins
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Banff, AB | August 30, 2021

CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures adds Purcell Heli-Skiing to operations, creating CMH Purcell

Today, Alterra Mountain Company announced it has purchased Purcell Heli-Skiing in British Columbia. CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures, which is owned by Alterra Mountain Company, will fold Purcell Heli-Skiing’s business and ski tenure into its existing operations.

Founded, owned and operated by Swiss mountain guide Rudi Gertsch and his family since 1974, Purcell Heli-Skiing has offered single-day, two-day and three-day heli-ski trips out of Golden, B.C. in the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges.

It is the closest major heli-skiing operation to Calgary and is just two hours west of Banff, AB.  

With the acquisition, the newly minted CMH Purcell becomes CMH’s 11th heli-ski destination and will add 495,000 acres of backcountry tenure to more than 3 million acres of existing terrain. The addition includes more than 250 ski runs in the Caribou, McMurdo, Duncan, Canyon, Spillimacheen, International Basin and Baird drainages. 

The sale represents a full-circle moment that brings together the stories of three of the founders of the sport of heli-skiing. Gertsch previously guided for CMH in the 1960s. He is responsible for helping to teach CMH founders and pioneers of heli-skiing, Hans Gmoser and Leo Grillmair, how to guide downhill skiing, as the duo was originally most familiar with guiding mountaineers. 

In 1974, Gertsch left CMH and struck out on his own to create Purcell Heli-Skiing. Since then, he has helped shape the heli-skiing industry in significant ways. Gertsch is a founding member of Heli-Cat Canada and is responsible for establishing many of the industry’s standards for safety, client care, operating methods and environmental stewardship. Notably, he has been integral to developing the concept of heli-skiing tenures in B.C. and advocating for their long-term use and stewardship.  

1972: Rudi Gertsch (second from left) with CMH founders Hans Gmoser and Leo Grillmair (fourth and fifth from left), shortly before Gertsch started Purcell Heli-Skiing. Left to right: Mountain guides Pierre Lemire, Rudi Gertsch, Lloyd Gallagher, Hans Gmoser, Leo Grillmair, Manfred Cartellieri, Herman Frank, Frank Stark, and Sepp Renner. Photo by Pierre Lemire with Bruno Engler.

“Everything has come full circle,” said Gertsch. “I have a profound feeling of professional satisfaction at this point in my life, knowing that the story of our business reaches back to those common origins, and will now stretch forward into the future. Purcell is in the best possible hands with CMH.”

“When it was time to consider selling, we knew as a family that CMH Heli-Skiing was the only choice to be Purcell’s next home. CMH is an icon,” added Jeff Gertsch, Rudi’s son and heli-skiing guide. “It’s about where Rudi started his journey, and about the company’s future. We want Purcell to reach its potential and CMH’s vision, scale and respect for the craft will ensure it endures.”

Rudi Gertsch, Founder of Purcell Heli-Skiing | Photo by Claire Dibble

For the 2021/22 winter season, CMH will honour and operate all booked Purcell trips to date, and guests will continue to be guided by Jeff, who is now a CMH guide. CMH will continue to offer Purcell’s style of small-group heli-skiing with one, two and three-day trips in the Purcell tenure.

“I’m thrilled that Rudi, Jeff and Katie chose CMH to help carry their legacy into a very bright future,” said Rob Rohn, CMH President and COO. “Rudi has been such a pivotal figure in the founding of our company and an inspiration to an entire generation of guides in Canada. The addition of CMH Purcell creates some exciting new options for CMH guests, and we look forward to introducing Purcell’s guests to all that we have to offer.”

Learn more about CMH Purcell >
Read a message from the Gertsch family >
Media inquiries >