At Harris Mountains Heli-Ski we are very fortunate to have some great loyal clients that come to ski with us every year. Two of them are Heinz Steiner and Stewart Poon whose passion for heli-skiing has made them close friends over the years. Before they hit the slopes in 2018, we asked them a few questions:
Heinz: 1983. I was on a group tour doing a road trip of various ski areas of the South Island. This included the Tasman Glacier where I did my first heli-ski day with Alpine Guides. A couple of days later we arrived in Wanaka and the tour guide invited Paul Scaife to join us for dinner. Paul asked who was keen to heli-ski the next day. I said yes and that was when it all started. We did 5 runs off Towers Ridge in September powder with Paul taking photos – it was magic.
Stewart: In 2001, after I saw an advert in a ski magazine. Ever since then I try to come back every August for a few weeks and do as many days of heli-skiing as possible, usually between 8 and 11. I usually come alone and meet with Heinz and other friends here.
Stewart: It is the quality of the snow, friends & staff of HMH, the scenery of the heli terrain and of course the beautiful town of Wanaka. I also enjoy the cooler weather in this part of the world.
Heinz: I just feel at home in Wanaka. To start with it was Paul Scaifes welcoming nature and his passion. He made the decision to return easy. Over the years I have enjoyed some great times with many of the HMH guides, pilots, staff, other Wanaka locals and regular visitors. I feel part of the family and like the relaxed feel of Wanaka.
Heinz: Quite a few changes. It was a very new evolving industry in those early days, so some things that were done back then are no longer done. Eg. Flying from Pembroke Park, staging from Treble Cone, Paul skiing with explosives in his pack ready for some impromptu avalanche control. It is much more regulated now with many improvements in safety procedures gained from experience. Runs are now graded from an avalanche safety aspect and constantly assessed. The B2 helicopters make many areas more accessible than the 500Ds and Jetrangers in the early days. Pauls signature picnic buffet lunches though have been a staple from the very start. It is of course much busier now and with modern ski technology far more people are out looking for max vert days, but despite that, it is still a relaxed atmosphere.
Heinz: Someone who just enjoys being out there, with a relaxed attitude but at the same time attentive and aware of what is going on which is important in that environment. Stewart has been an excellent example of this.
Stewart: A good buddy should keep a close watch on his/her partner & keep him/her out of danger & help whenever needed but still leave enough powder for the partner to enjoy.
Heinz: Just a little one: Hoping to finally clock up a metric million this year. After that, anything else will be a bonus.