Farm Story has morphed into Heli-Ski Guide Story for a week, which should give the column some street cred, as I have yet to write about skiing this winter. Lee Anne Patterson is our guest writer this week.
Last Tuesday (Feb. 26) started out the same as most of my workdays do. A 5:30 a.m. wake up, some coffee and some time spent in front of the computer collecting data from weather stations on the Duffey Lake Road and Whistler Blackcomb. Following that a review of avalanche conditions from the previous day and lastly a look at the list of the dayís clients and their abilities. All this helps me to come up with a plan for our heli-ski day.
Right away after reviewing the guest list I knew it was going to be a special day. There was a notation on the list that mentioned that a guest was here skiing with us courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This is the foundation that helps children with cancer to live out one of their dreams.
It was a beautiful sunny day and the family of four showed up: mom, dad and two sons. I couldnít tell which boy had made the wish because both boys, 16 and 18 years old, were stoked out of their minds as we were going through the avalanche and helicopter safety training. It was easy to recognize that their mom and dad were a little more nervous about things, but by the end of the session everyone was just feeling excited to get out skiing. At that point we put the groups together for the day of skiing. The helicopter fits five guests so a fellow from Los Angeles joined my group and the family.
Bob, from LA, was a great guy, a great skier, a seasoned heli-skier and an awesome addition to our group. After a couple of runs the family shared their story with the group about how their son was a cancer survivor. They explained that he still has to be tested every three months, but he has been clean for two years after a long struggle with leukemia. The foundation paid for his family to come heli-skiing for four runs. The company I work for offers four and six run packages and then an option to buy additional runs when you are out in the field for $95 per person per run. Heli-skiing is not a cheap activity, and being a guide has offered me a glimpse into peopleís lives that have chosen a very different path from my own.
The day was amazing: blue skies, 30 cm of very dry powder and good stability all combined for fantastic skiing. So it didnít make sense to ski only four runs and Bob knew it. Then a really special thing happened. Bob pulled me aside at lunch and suggested he would pay for all the extra runs the family wanted to do. I thought that was just an amazing gesture and purely a random act of kindness and generosity.
In the end our company picked up the extra runs for the family. It was a truly feel good story all around.
As I sit and write this tale of kindness and overcoming adversity, I just received an email from my new friend who got to live out his wish. He thanked me for an amazing day, he thanked me for taking care of him and his family in the mountains and thanked me for giving him inspiration in life, because now when he finishes high school he is going to start training to become a ski guide.
Lee Anne Patterson rips, builds and writes a tear-jerking story in Pemberton B.C.