Full disclosure: I’ve never actually been heli-skiing. I hope that will change very soon (looking at you, CMH). But after attending the launch of CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures’ state-of-the-art virtual reality experience in Denver, I feel like I have. I have soared over the endless pow fields of the Cariboos, disembarked from the heli with rotar-wash coming at me, and followed my heli-ski guide down B.C.’s steeps brimming with white fluff with the rest of my crew hooting and hollering behind me.
That’s how realistic CMH’s Line of Sights VR film is. Created in partnership with award-winning Sherpas Cinema with support from Google’s AR/VR team, the five-minute film allows the viewer to experience all the essentials of heli-skiing—jaw-dropping scenery, the sounds of the copter, and snow-spray coming off your skis with every powder turn—all in first-person point-of-view. Wearing CMH’s headset of goggles and headphones, the user controls their experience to a large extent, taking advantage of 360-degree video footage to look up, down, and around to take in surrounding peaks and view the lines they’re about to drop into. What's more: the viewer experiences every part of the trip, from buckling into their seat in the helicopter to charging down the wide-open slopes of the Cariboo Mountains.
“The biggest thing people ask for in VR is ‘take me places I can’t go,’ and heli-skiing is an incredible experience that only a lucky few could even imagine,” said Sarah Steele, Google VR Program Manager, in a press statement.
And yet, CMH hopes that not only will its VR film give the average-joe who may not be able to afford heli-skiing a way to enjoy the experience, but also dispel the myth that heli-skiing is extreme and only for expert skiers. So Lines of Sight doesn’t show off pro skiers charging down extreme terrain, but instead showcases actual CMH guests of varying abilities skiing pretty moderate terrain. In doing so, CMH hopes to convey that heli-skiing is a highly achievable experience.
Can’t wrap your brain around VR heli-skiing? I don’t blame you. I recommend you just go see it for yourself. Lines of Sight will be touring six Ikon resorts across North America this winter season, where giant CMH helicopters will be stationed at the base area for visitors to step into, strap on a VR headset, and fly away into the Cariboos (in VR, but still…)
Line of Sight Tour Dates and Resorts:
Jan. 11-13: Winter Park, Colo.
Jan. 24-27: Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario
Feb. 2-3 and 9-10: Stratton, Vt.
March 7-12: Tremblant, Que.
March 22-24: Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
March 29-31 and Apr. 5-7: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Calif.