Hans Gmoser, founder of Canadian Mountain Holidays, lived and worked in mountainous terrain in Canada and Europe for over 50 years.
He began his career in 1953 as a mountain guide on the "Matterhorn of Canada", Mt. Assiniboine, within the World Heritage Site of the Canadian Rockies. In 1957 he formed Canadian Mountain Holidays, where he pioneered Heli-Skiing – the thoroughly innovative, thrilling adventure of flying intrepid skiers to remote, awe-inspiring mountain peaks.
During his exciting 20-year career of extraordinary high mountain ascents, Hans Gmoser distinguished himself on many expeditions:
- He was the first to reach the summit of Mt. Blackburn in Alaska (16,390 feet) in 1958.
- In 1959 he led the first Canadian ascent of Mt. Logan, the second highest peak in North America, at 19,850 feet.
- In 1963 he led the first Wickersham Wall ascent of Mt. McKinley, 20,320 feet into the clouds, highest climb in North America.
Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) flowed naturally from his lifelong mountain experience. First to introduce the concept of Heli-Skiing in 1965, he opened the Bugaboo Lodge in British Columbia in 1968. He then began opening comfortable lodges in other remote Heli-Skiing areas. He introduced another novel concept -- Heli-Hiking. Heli-Hiking opened up mountain adventures to recreational hikers, families and even the disabled. He opened the Cariboo Lodge in 1974, the Bobbie Burns Lodge in 1981, the Gothics Heli-Ski area in 1986, in 1989 the Galena Lodge, and in 1990 the Adamant Lodge. Today CMH operates a total of 12 Heli-Ski areas and lodges with over 500 in staff, and attracting over 7,000 Heli-Skiers and over 3,000 Heli-Hikers a year.
In addition to his thriving Heli-Skiing and Hiking business, Hans filmed and produced ten feature-length lecture films on mountain climbing and skiing in Western Canada, which he personally showed and narrated in North America and Europe.
Hans Gmoser was founding member and president of the Standards Committee of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), founding member and president of the Association of B.C. Heli-Skiing Operators (now HeliCat Canada) and president of Canadian Mountain Holidays until 1991.
In 1987 Hans Gmoser was inducted into the prestigious Order of Canada. In 1989 he was inducted into the Honour Roll of Canadian Skiing, was an honourary member of the Alpine Club of Canada, and honourary member of the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations.
In April of 2006, Hans was honoured by the Honourable Michael Wilson, Ambassador of Canada to the United States, and Murray Smith, Minister Counsellor for Alberta, at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, for his contribution to Canada's mountain heritage.
While in Washington DC, Hans presented a retrospective featuring slides, film clips, and stories from his early days of climbing, guiding, heli-skiing and heli-hiking. The presentation was held at the Grosvenor Auditorium in the National Geographic Society Headquarters, as part of National Geographic's Quest for Adventure series.
In June 2006, Hans was one of five individuals inducted into the brand-new Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame, created by TIAC to publicly recognize individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to Canada's tourism industry. The press release announcing the recipients noted of Hans: "'The father of heli-skiing', Hans Gmoser has made a significant contribution to wilderness and adventure tourism in Canada. He founded Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH), the world's first heli-skiing and heli-hiking company, and was a founding member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. His values and practices have continued to guide the company since his retirement in 1995: a relentless commitment to safety, excellent service, environmental stewardship and hiring passionate people."
Sadly, Hans passed away in July 2006 following a cycling accident. In October 2006, he was awarded posthumously the TIAC Lifetime Achievement Award. for his "...significant contribution to wilderness and adventure tourism in Canada not only by developing the world's largest and most sophisticated heli-skiing operation—in fact, CMH is one of the most successful tourism operators anywhere—but by participating in initiatives that influenced the sector's development over more than three decades."
Hans Gmoser (1932 - 2006) – Canadian Mountain Pioneer
by Chic Scott
by Topher Donahue