Tobogganing to the extremes 

Tour company offering heli-toboggan experience

Money may not buy happiness, but it can get you helicoptered into the backcountry with four friends and family members to take in a little extreme tobogganing.

If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face nothing will.

Whistler VIP Mountain Holidays came up with the idea this year while entertaining some wealthy guests from Russia. Not all of the members of the group were into skiing and snowboarding, so VIP Mountain Holidays came up with the idea of flying them into the backcountry for a one-of-a-kind toboggan experience.

Ben Thomas, a co-owner of VIP Mountain Holidays, says he has checked around and this service, offered in conjunction with Whistler Heli-Skiing, is the only one of its kind in the world.

"There were these young guys looking for cool things to do, and they said they wanted to go tobogganing, but just hiking up and coming down the mountain wasn’t exciting enough so we said let’s go into the backcountry to do it," said Thomas.

They brought along crazy carpets, which weren’t much good in the deep snow, and some old-school wooden toboggans, which worked great once their bottoms were waxed.

The group did four drops during the day, each with more than 300 metres of vertical and long runs to the picnic area at the bottom.

"It works really well. You just find a nice big bowl with a long run-out and you just let it go. It was awesome," said Thomas.

After the first successful foray into the backcountry, VIP Holidays catered to a wealthy family that was also interested in the experience. That trip also went well, prompting VIP Holidays to add heli-tobogganing to its list of activities.

The cost is $2,000 to fly with a party of five in the backcountry. That price includes the helicopter trip, the services of a guide and a catered picnic lunch – food, wine, and music courtesy of portable speakers and an iPod.

Once in the backcountry the family can either hike up with the toboggans or pay for additional heli-drops further up the bowl.

Thomas admits that this trip won’t be for everybody, but for affluent families and groups it’s a unique opportunity – he knows because he checked.

"I think we may have invented a new sport here," he said.

For more information on Whistler VIP Holidays, visit their Web site at www.vipmountainholidays.com.

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