Racketeering Done Right… Infiltrating Kingfisher and RK Heli

Originally featured in Snowboard Mag Vol. 10, Issue 3 | The Cerebral Issue

A racket is a service that is fraudulently offered to solve a problem, such as for a problem that does not actually exist, will not be affected, or would not otherwise exist.

The way I see it, most heli-ops need a lot of help. Let’s face it – it’s a dying industry on the verge of collapse. The futility of their ventures makes me cringe. If only there were some way to save them, but how? Who could help?

If I could grant any wish for someone who truly loves snowboarding it would be for them to experience a day of heli-boarding.

Though I shall never possess the powers to fulfill your dreams, perhaps I can touch on the more cunning ways to get what you want, proven techniques handed down through the ages, namely deceit and treachery.

Nate Deschenes | Photo: Christopher D. Thompson Nate Deschenes | Photo: Christopher D. Thompson

I will blatantly lie, commit to false promises and cheat all parties involved to make a ride in a helicopter happen. It’s something I was born with, a default override button in my brain that tramples logic and ethics. Clinically, this is termed psychopathy, but I haven’t killed anyone yet so I fly under the radar. Working for a snowboard magazine has its perks in this department, as many brands fool heartedly seem to think my aim is to document and promote their business. However, unlike many in my profession, my main agenda is to snowboard, not polish my ego or stroke others indiscriminately because they supposedly have something I want. Thankfully, those who believe in the magical properties of helicopters usually have my blessing and I don’t have to resort to hostilities.

So, when someone offers me a means to further my snowboarding (in effect, my life’s purpose) via helicopter, I will do everything in my power to help out. Not by declaring how amazing they are, they can pump you full of those stats themselves, but instead by detailing what personal treasures may unfold for you should you visit their operation. I do this mainly by telling you how rad it was for me. This is my racket.

Photo: Nate Deschenes Photo: Nate Deschenes

For those of you still developing your hustle or to those with a stricter moral principal, one experience of the unusual powers bestowed by helicopter accessed snowboarding allows for more clear insight into what it’s really all about. You quickly understand that while a heli trip may cost triple your typical weekend outing to the resort, the experience of that is tenfold. You should also get why someone who lives well below the poverty level like myself turns into a filthy pirate in order to gain access to these riches.

This past winter I was lucky enough to offer my services to a couple of operations in my favorite place to snowboard, the interior of British Columbia, Canada.

The story begins at RK Heli in Panorama, BC, just south of Golden and the legendary Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

I have a friend who runs a “marketing firm” out of Calgary whose aim is to promote the areas’ ample snowcat and heli operations through various media. Let’s call him Scotty. Now, I thought I had a racket going, but this guy Scotty, fuck, he’s obviously much smarter than me. All he does is set up trips for media like Snowboard Mag to come and visit his “clients.” And with clients like Skeena Cat Skiing, Monashee Powder Cats and in this case RK Heli, he spends the winter months bouncing to and fro through untracked powder in the BC wilderness. He knows nothing of conventional shaped snowboards and revels in the knowledge he will never have to center his stance. I both despise and envy him.

Also see: The Untracked Mind: Snowboarding, consciousness and the ultimate reality

Regarding RK Heli: When most people think of heli-boarding, the thing that comes to mind is a week at some fancy lodge nibbling on duck pâté while the guides tie your boots for you, all to the tune of a year’s salary. Yes, that is the model that many places abide by since oil tycoons and the filthy rich like to have fun too. RK on the other hand is a much more attainable option for those of us who do maintain a keen eye on our account balance. Serving mainly day trips at anywhere between three and five drops per, this is the perfect place to take your first heli ride.

Accessing some of the most impressive terrain in the region, the lofty peaks of the Purcell and Bugaboo ranges certainly qualify as deep wilderness. The powder is light and dry in these parts and the rideable terrain varies from gladed trees and pillows to wide open alpine bowls.

Nate Deschenes | Photo: Christopher D. Thompson Nate Deschenes | Photo: Christopher D. Thompson

If I were to imagine a dream week shredding BC, I would suggest a flight to Calgary, renting a car and popping on over for a few runs at RK before allowing an open schedule to explore the region. Depending on snow conditions, there is the neighboring Panorama Mountain Resort, Kicking Horse a couple hours north, or Revelstoke, just another two hours from there. I won’t even go into the backcountry access, as it’s so incredibly abundant if you are willing to do your homework and play safe.

Later in the season I received a suspect email from a known extortionist, this guy who started that iPhone app SNOCRU. I don’t have an iPhone because I don’t need radiation sickness, but for those of you who do, the capabilities to track everything from speed and altitude to connecting with a community of riders from around the world via this app are extraordinary. Anyways, this guy, let’s call him Eddie, says he wants to invite me to a new heli op outside of Kelowna, BC. It’s called Kingfisher and SNOCRU is their business partner. He threatens that if I don’t go he will give the spot to someone else, probably a skier.
I know this game well enough indeed to call his bluff. I am going to go, and he is going to thank me for it!

With just days to refine my scheme, I arrive unprepared.

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