Helicopter Accident Leaves Heliskiing Guide Seriously Injured on Christmas Day

Dylan Cautela |
Stellar.
They’ve got the goods up at Mike Wiegele Heliskiing Resort that’s for sure! PC; John Schwirtlich Source; Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing Facebook Page.

At the Mike Wiegele Heliskiing Resort in Blue River, BC a helicopter accident left one of the operations guides in serious condition on Christmas Day. The pilot was attempting to land the aircraft near a summit for the guide and guests to descend on a deep powder run. During the landing process, due to the angle of the slope, one of the helicopters skids touched down prior to the other and dug into the snowpack. This caused the entire machine to slowly roll over.

“Where he’d been landing the previous times, there hadn’t been a big powder cloud, but when he moved over to this spot, he created a very big powder cloud which whited out everything,”

Bob Sayer, Guiding Operations Manager at Mike Wiegele Heliskiing Resort 

Killer spot.
The heliskiing operation is located Southwest of Jasper National Park in the heart of British Columbia. Source; Google Maps.

There were three guests, two guides, and the pilot onboard at the time of the accident. Fortunately, only one of the six passengers were injured from the incident. One of the guides suffered a collapsed lung and internal bleeding and was transported to the local hospital immediately by another of the operations helicopters, which had a doctor onboard. The guide is said to be recovering well and will return to the operation, most likely behind a desk, before the end of the season.

An investigation was done by the resort with the overwatch of the Transportation Safety Board. It was determined that there were no mechanical errors, but simply a conditions and landing error. The heliskiing operation has now placed a new rule stating; “on low density days when there is very powdery snow, pilots must land on a site that’s been previously staked out.”

Beautiful Bird.
One of the operations helis coming in for a landing. Source; Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing Facebook Page.

But even after the accident and having the staff and guests receive counseling from a critical incident stress debriefer, the folks at the operation wanted to get back out onto the mountains where they could leave their woes in the deep BC powder. 

“People don’t want to sit around and dwell on the fact that helicopters might crash when they are going heliskiing, they would rather just go skiing and think about how great the skiing was.”

Bob Sayer, Guiding Operations Manager at Mike Wiegele Heliskiing Resort 

Damn...
A dose of cold smoke is just what’s on the menu at this heli op. Source; Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing Facebook Page.

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