Hell Ski Guide Training at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge – Go Behind the Scenes

Hell Ski Guide Training at Tordrillo Moutain Lodge is a yearly event that takes place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I had an opportunity to observe these top pros plan for the season and share insights with other top professionals.

All of the Heli ski guides at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge have a minimum of 15 + years guiding and patrolling in the field and hundreds of Alaska heli skiing runs logged in the Tordrillo Mountains. Guide training was led by Tordrillo Mountain Lodge partners, Mike Overcast, Tommy Moe, and Mike Rheam. Guides came from across the Western US to share the latest in snow safety forecasting and technology. They also spent a day on the slopes of Jackson Hole practicing their skills.

I’ve heli skied all over the world and know a number of heli ski guides, but it wasn’t until I spent 2 days observing this group that I began to understand the nuances of their job. As a ski instructor, I can put my trust in the hands of the ski patrol and assume that if a run is open, it is probably safe. I can focus on my guests, how they are feeling and performing and then focus on fun and what wine we should have at lunch. Not so easy breezy for these top pros. They usually start their day at 5am to collect data on the weather conditions and then have a guide meeting to share their knowledge of the current conditions. At the same time they begin focusing on their guests and making their experience great all the while making safety decisions and evaluating conditions. It’s not until the heli is back at the lodge that they have a short period of time to relax.

The guides all have the highest level of snow safety and avalanche training as well as an advanced medical responder qualifications, one Tordrillo Mountain Lodge Guide, Wes Wylie is an M.D.


I watched this group dig snow pits, collect data, and do drills with avalanche beacons out on the hill. The trainers set up a scenario where the guides had to ski into an area blind, assess the situation, and then find “someone” who had been buried. All of the pros handled the situation with calm and a high level of skill. Every guide found the buried transceiver in record time.

These guys and gals are truly the heroes of the snow skiing world and allow us all to fully experience the joy of the moment in a safe environment.