Having driven to the Interlaken area the night before, the group took a Bed & Breakfast in Innertkirchen to be met in the field opposite the guest house by the helicopter , pilot and our mountain guide at 8am on a clear and fine spring day.
Firstly our two non skiing/boarding guests took a quick pleasure flight over the peaks while the remaining 5 snowboarders and 1 skier were briefed on the safety aspects and details of the glacier. All participants were fully equipped with a safety harness, back-pack and avalanche rescue beeper.
Two short flights ferried our group to the summit of Sustenlimmi at 3100 m. A snow dome provided the perfect platform for the helicopter pilot to land centimetre perfect.
A view of a thousand peaks stretched away to the horizon as we started our descent over relatively flat terrain before joining the Susten glacier on its left flank. Higher up the snow was hard and icy, and in places with wind blown snow dunes. But the further we descended the better the conditions became with some un ridden powder on the North hangs.
The route took us past stunning ice walls and crevasses. Huge shapes and ice forms gouged out with the passage of time providing a stunning backdrop to our descent.
After about 5 km and a 1600 m descent we met the helicopter in a deserted hamlet near what is the glacial lake in summer. The first run was done at a fair speed in order to complete the second descent by mid day, when the danger of avalanches increases.
The second flight took us over and through more breathtaking glacial formations as the helicopter returned us to the top of Sustenlimmi.
The second descent was going to be special as our mountain guide explained that this route is only safe enough to do a few times each season …
As there hadn’t been a fresh snowfall for a few weeks and our guide had assessed our groups ability as competent enough to handle the 45 degree slope we set off in single file at an interval of 10 metres between each rider and under strict instructions not to venture left or right of our mountain guides route.
Steep? Yes. Dangerous? No, and with even more impressive scenery and better snow conditions than the first run!
The glacier led us down to the Susten pass. (The road that snakes its way through tunnels and over bridges for the summer holiday traffic.)
As the road was closed and still snow covered we continued down the road with some of our group boarding through the tunnels on sheet ice and some of us walking through!
A final section on a mountain path through the forests led us down to where the snow ran out. With some 12 km travelled and a descent of 2200 m the second run left us on a natural high for the rest of the day and memories for weeks to come.
An experience I would recommend to all skiers and snowboarders who like to get off the pistes and feel the freedom and beauty of the mountains.
With thanks to our partners Suddenrush and BoHag Helicopter charters, Snowmotions will be arranging Heliboarding trips in the Spring of 2004.
A day that can be included in your weeks winter holiday or as a one off outstanding experience.