Climbing

Well the results are in and we lost exactly ZERO members of our skiing party to avalanche, helicopter crash, scurvy, cannibalism, or alcohol poisoning during our epic back country skiing adventure. Ok, we did almost lose someone down the outhouse hole but that’s just because he’s old and has no discernible rear end. What is back country skiing you ask? It’s insane practice of climbing mountains in order to ski down them instead of using chairlifts like civilized folk. To be able to climb steep snowy mountainsides you need skis with special bindings that allow the heel to move freely for climbing, like cross country skis, and then be locked down for skiing the epic power you find at the top. You also attach climbing skins to the bottom of the skis for better traction that allows you to climb some pretty steep grades. BTW if you’re wondering if climbing thousands of feet is a lot of hard work, it is. So why do we do it? Because we love to climb, OK we love the amazing deep powder we find at the top way more but we still love the climb.

The spot we chose to ski this year is the Bolder Hut located in the Purcell mountains of British Columbia, Canada. This hut is only accessible by helicopter so in addition to some great skiing we all got to take a pretty cool helicopter ride in the mountains. Here’s the approach to the Bolder Hut.

The flight was a lot of fun but I’ll have to admit I didn’t really know where the pilot was going to land us until we made the last turn. Before that it looked like he was flying us into a dead end box canyon, not that I was scared mind you, just that I’m kind of a control freak and I like to know what’s going on at all times. That’s not weird…….is it? I’ll tell you all more about the trip and post tons of pictures later. You’ve been warned.

Launching

Zero Hour, 8:00am Meet and board A-Star B3 (That’s a helicopter)

Fly 20 miles into the Purcell Mountains

Depart A-StarB3 (Still a helicopter) unload gear into Boulder hut.

Put skies on.  Hunt deep power.

Details to follow.

No Autographs Please

As I’m sure you’re all aware Hula Girl is famous again. What? You’re not? Well, you really need to get out more. I went and saw Dead Pool last night and in the middle of the movie Dead Pool’s blind roommate trips over a Roomba and guess who’s mounted on said Roomba? You guessed it, Hula Girl! For those of you who are not fans of “Dangerous Flights” (losers) Hula Girl is my side kick/good luck/co-pilot who’s been flying with me for about 25 years. Her first claim to fame, besides knowing me, was being featured on the show when I had to fix her broken legs before mounting her on the glare shield of the Bonanza I was ferrying to Argentina. Since that episode aired I have actually gotten fan main for Hula Girl and have people ask me about her all the time. OK, not really all that much but some anyway. So apparently she got herself an agent and has broken into film. Good for her. I just hope she remembers all the little people. Oh, and I loved Dead Pool, it was hilarious.

Trip Warning!

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OK, OK, Sorry, it’s not amazing around the world ferry flight, it’s just my annual back country skiing trip with my BC buds. I’ll be flying out to Spokane (commercial, mores the pity) then driving to the great white north where after a warm up day skiing at Kimberly My friends and I will board a helicopter which will whisk us hundreds of feet into the air, maybe thousands even, and deep into the cold snowy Purcell mountains where it will drop us off to fend for ourselves for many days. And by “fend for ourselves” I mean sleep in a super cool back country lodge with catered meals and a sauna. But no internet so it’s basically like sleeping in an igloo on the north pole. We are allowed 35 pounds of gear to take with us and that includes beer, wine, rum, scotch, and assorted schnapps…ez. So I guess I’ll have to make do with only one change of underwear for the trip. Hey, safety first I always say. OK, I don’t say that but someone does. I’ll keep you all posted with how many of our party we lose to avalanches, heart attacks, and the like.

DO NOT LOSE!

Now that Charles is all wrapped up and comfy in his space blankets and rain poncho it’s time to go through the DO NOT LOSE! bag and see what else he might that might come in handy in the quest to not die. (If you don’t know just what in the heck I’m talking about look back a few posts to catch up)

You might remember that the DO NOT LOSE! bag is the small survival kit that I bring with me on every international ferry flight (Ocean crossing) and most other flights where I’m flying over terrain that might be challenging to survive in if I’m forced down. On ferry flights I also have additional supplies and gear in the plane with me that I’ll bring with if I can when exiting the aircraft in and emergency but the DO NOT LOSE! bag is the first priority. If I’m ditching the bag gets zipped inside my survival suit before hand so there’s no chance of losing it and I have my hands free for the raft and maybe my secondary bag of supplies.

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So without further ado here’s what’s in my DO NOT LOSE! bag.

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OK, from left to right (sort of) top to bottom.

Chem light: Just a good emergency light or tie it on the end of a line and twirl it over your head as an emergency beacon.

Lazer pointer: Excellent signaling device. Just shine it in at an aircraft and the cops will come and arrest you. Saved!

Space blanket with electrical tape.

Large military dressing with duct tape wrapping: No not the bandaids. Thanks US ARMY!

More bandaids and iodine wipes.

Bandage tape with strong rubber bands

550 cord

Power bar

GPS

Cloths pins: In case you need to do some laundry. Honestly I don’t remember why they are in there.

Tweezers and large safety pins

Military heat tabs: Good fire starter.

Magnesium block with sparker. Good fire starter.

Waterproof lighter and matches

Safety wire

Compass

Good luck charm

Swiss Army knife, large and small

Diamond stone

More knife, you never want to run out of knife.

Super glue, Good for patching holes in a raft or your body.

Tiny flashlight

Drugs. Mostly ibuprofen, I don’t think the little blue pills are viagra but I’ll take them last, just in case.

Sewing kit

Metal tape

Army power bar

More bandage tape

Rubber gloves. Mostly for keeping hands warm.

Raft patch kit

PLB (Personell Locator Beacon)

Aviation radio

Gerber multi-tool. Probably on my belt

Headlamp

As I said I change this kit to fit the part of the world I’m flying over or when I think of something new. Like why don’t I have any booze in it? Hmmmm, guess I’ll have to go to the store.

 

Dad, Please Stop

Like most fathers I enjoy torturing my children with corny jokes. Especially in front of their friends. Classics like “Why don’t crabs give to charity? Their shellfish!  Ha  ha. Yes, I would literally have my kids begging me to stop. So imagine my joy when I discovered private messaging in Facebook. Now there is nowhere in the world they can hide from me! As you know my son Connor is currently in Fort Eustis VA, attending the US ARMY’s Black Hawk mechanics/crew chief school so of course being a former Huey Crew chief myself I had to come up with some helicopter maintenance humor. It’s harder than you think (that’s what she said) but I finally came up with something, found a Rick Grimes joke generator online and sent it to him yesterday.

connor nut

OK, it’s not that funny, maybe not even a joke, but I thought it was funny and that’s all that matters.

By the way the Jesus nut is the large nut that holds the main rotor system onto the mast.

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If it comes off………well,that’s bad.

Just Kick Back And Relax

In case there is anyone out there who hasn’t been following the trials and tribulations of Charles, our unlucky fictitious ferry pilot I’ll try and bring you up to speed. Chuck was hired to ferry a small single engine airplane from the US to Europe in the middle of winter. Since then he’s made a lot of serious mistakes. Number one, agreeing to ferry a small single engine airplane over the north Atlantic in the winter time. Somewhere off the coast of Greenland his plane suffered some sort of mysterious mechanical malfunction, no, he did NOT run out of gas! He’s not THAT much of and idiot. He then managed to ditch the plane without flipping it of knocking himself unconscious, exit the plane wearing his survival suit before it sank, (the airplane, not the suit) inflate and climb into his life raft, and make contact with a passing airliner. Now that you are up to speed, please pay attention because I’m NOT going to do this again!

So where was I? Or should I say where was Chuck? Oh yeah, in his raft trying to play solitaire with soggy cards while waiting for help to arrive, It turns out that being bored might be the least of Chuck’s worries because although he was smart and wore the proper layers of clothing under his survival suit it still might get a little chilly in the wet rubber room after a few hours. My instructors in Iceland told me that the biggest loss of body heat won’t be from the cold air, provided your raft has a good cover on it, but from the rubber floor of the raft. Seeing the the water temperature of the North Atlantic in the winter is…….hell, it don’t know exactly. All I know is that it’s damn cold and that it sucks the heat from anything that touches it for any length of time. Like your butt. I know this for a fact because a few years ago I flew one of my Cessnas up to Alaska with my father and number one son for a week long raft trip down the Kobuk river. It was an amazing trip but one thing we noticed was that the floor of the raft was so cold that it your feet froze even through your tennis shoes. we finally had to put some cardboard down to set our feet on. sort of an insulating barrier. It wasn’t much, but it worked. The problem is that there isn’t much extra junk laying around a life raft in the middle of the Atlantic. All you have is what you bring with you.

That’s why I carry two cheap mylar space blankest and one or two thin plastic rain ponchos in my DO NOT LOSE! bag. I can unwrap and sit on them or wrap them around my body to help keep my core warm. (pictured below)

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“But Kerry, I only see one space blanket and no rain ponchos” Oh, you noticed that? That’s because when I opened up my DO NOT LOSE! bag they were missing! Yes, I lost things out of my DO NOT LOSE! bag. That’s because I use the items in the bag for other things and trips other than ferry flying and sometimes they don’t get put back. Grrrrrrrrr. You might also notice that I have some electrical tape wrapped around the space blanket because you never know when that will come in handy. I’ll have to remember to change that tape because I put it there over two years ago and it tends to get funky.

You might also have read that those cheap mylar space blankets aren’t all they are cracked up to be. That’s true, they are not some magical item that will keep you warm no matter what. They are about one atom thick, tear SUPER easy, and give you almost no insulation. But they block the wind a little, trap air a little,(that’s also what the tape’s for, I use it to seal the gaps) and when you wrap two of them around you and then add a cheap plastic rain poncho on top of that it will do something. Better than nothing, and if you don’t bring them that’s what you’ve got, nothing.