As you walk into Alpine Helicopters, you might be greeted by base manager Paul Quanstrom.
His friendly demeanor makes you feel right at home. When we walked in, our pilot Mark Adams was on the phone. He cheerily chatted away with someone before our flight. When he came out to introduce himself, he shook our hands and gave us a big smile.
The staff at Alpine Helicopters is nothing short of amazing. With their friendly, welcoming, and professional attitude, you know you’re in good hands. We checked out a big map on the wall, staring in awe at all of the interesting places in the surrounding area. After a bit of discussion of where our trip would take us, we headed out through the hangar for a safety briefing. Adams ran through how to open the doors, fasten your seatbelt, what to do in case of emergency, and a few other important safety details before we boarded the big red bird.
With our headsets on, we chatted a bit while the blades began to spin. The shaking while the helicopter is warming up lets you know just how much power is behind the big expensive machine.
It felt like nearly no time had passed at all before we were skybound, heading straight up from the base and flying overtop of the airport. We took off toward Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, and flew high above the Dogtooth Range.
Everything looks so different from the sky. The town grew smaller and smaller as we left it behind, heading toward Glacier National Park. We crept up on the glacier circle, a magnificent feat of ice and snow, even at the end of spring. Adams has been flying with Alpine Helicopters in Golden for more than 10 years, and he says he has seen changes in the glaciers over that time. The ice is growing thinner on top, and the bottoms of the glaciers are creeping up toward the mountain tops. He has seen first hand what global warming is doing to our backcountry. His insight into the glaciers and the science he has picked up from travelling with biologists is mind blowing.
At this time of year, there are plenty of avalanche paths to look at. The sheer force of the avalanches has torn away dirt, trees, and debris from the sides of the mountain. We headed toward Silent Pass, a popular snowmobiling area, before taking a turn back to the Columbia Valley near Parson and Spillimacheen.
If Adams needed to, he could make it to Revelstoke in under 30 minutes in his helicopter. Our entire trip took just over that amount of time, and we covered a lot of airspace between taking off and landing back at the base.
On our way back, we travelled up the Columbia River toward Golden, passing by Mount 7 on our way to the airport. The seven looks different from this angle, as do most things we’re used to looking at every day.
While many tourists enjoy taking helicopter rides through the mountains, Adams says he really enjoys taking locals out because they get a different perspective on where they live.
“Seeing your community from the air shows how it all ties together,” he says.
Alpine Helicopters has base locations in Golden, Kelowna, and in Alberta in Canmore, Calgary, Grimshaw/Peace River, High Level, and Kananaskis. In Golden, they mostly run commercial services, but will do sightseeing tours and charter services when their schedule and the weather allows it. They often pick up and drop off adventurers to backcountry huts, and wedding locations.
If you’re looking for a truly unique and “Totally Golden” experience, give Alpine Helicopters a call. You will get to see Golden like you never have before. Call them at 250-344-7444 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.